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Ghost of Tsushima combat in detail - speed, sharpness, and precision

Published: 20:36, 23 June 2020
Sucker Punch Productions
A samurai sneaking up behind a guard in Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima developer Sucker Punch Productions posted a lengthy explanation of how they crafted the in-game katana combat, where they said they focused on three things - speed, sharpness, and precision.

"Our hopes of achieving our goal, of creating the time machine we were after, rested on capturing the right feel for the katana. Without katana combat that looked right, sounded right, and felt right, Ghost wouldn’t succeed", the dev wrote, and it's hard to argue that. 

And the first step in making it look right was the speed, which plays a huge role in actual as well as cinematic depictions of katana combat. 

Ghost of Tsushima development required quite a bit of tweaking in order to portray speedy combat adequately, without breaking the game and/or immersion. Funnily enough, Hideo Kojima's visit to the studio was prior to these tweaks, something the dev team regret very much. 

"We tune things so that Jin has barely enough time to deal with each enemy attack as it lands, just like in the samurai movies that inspired us, but there will often be two or even three attackers in the middle of an attack sequence at once", they wrote. "No enemies standing around waiting to be attacked, just unrelenting aggression."

Ghost of Tsushima's second focus point was sharpness, which is reflected in how much punishment enemies or Jin can take. Protracting a fight felt unnatural, but Sucker Punch apparently tweaked it to perfection. 

"Sharp weapons and aggressive enemies mean that death is always nearby. That sense of danger, that you're never more than a few mistakes away from dying, is crucial to Ghost of Tsushima's tone", they said. 

Sony screenshot from ghost of tsushima showing samurai in combat Ghost of Tsushima

Last but not least is precision. "The katana is a weapon that rewards precision — a lifetime of discipline and practice to make exactly the right cut at exactly the right moment. It was important that the player got the same sense of precision — and those same demands of discipline and practice", the dev said. 

Ghost of Tsushima doesn't just reward attacking precision - it extends the same thing to defence. While holding L1 will take care of blocking, executing a timed-L1 block just before you're about to get hit executes a parry, which is far more effective and can even be upgraded for perfect parries. 

All these lessons are distilled into Stances, which are collections of attack techniques that Jin can switch between whenever he chooses so. Every stance works best against certain enemies, so learning them is invaluable. 

Sucker Punch Productions A samurai and bowman standing in sunset in Ghost of Tsushima Ghost of Tsushima

You can check out Jin's switching of Stances in the video below, for which Sucker Punch provided a brief explanation. 

"Jin uses Stone Stance to quickly finish off a swordsman — Stone Stance is his ancestral style, developed to fight other swordsmen, so it works well against Mongol swordsmen — then quickly switches to Water Stance to create an opening against a shieldman. Jin devises Water Stance in frustration after the techniques he's practiced for decades prove ineffective against the Mongol shieldmen", they said.

You can find the full post over at PlayStation Blog

Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai adventure by Sucker Punch Studios

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A man with an axe running through a forest in SCUM
Ghost of Tsushima

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