Ghost of Tsushima from Sucker Punch Productions has been a highly anticipated title since 2017 when players were introduced to the Japan setting in which players take on the role of Jin Sakai, one of the last samurai on the beautiful island of Tsushima. However, before last night’s State of Play, we learned that the game doesn’t include waypoints. This sparked concerns from disabled players as to how they’re going to navigate the world when immersion appears to be the key focus.
The State of Play gameplay reveal yesterday —which you can watch above— showed us exactly what to expect, and so I’m going to jump in and give it a look at how the interface seems to display information to the player when navigating the world.
Firstly, there are no waypoints in the sense that you seeing a giant beam of light in the distance, or an icon that’s present at all times, be that on-screen or on a compass. Instead, players are able to open a map, set a marker on the map, and then are guided to that unmarked marker by following the gusts of wind.
It’s certainly a unique way of directing the player, and players can activate these gusts of winds through an assigned hotkey at any time. The winds will blow towards your destination, however, this system might take some getting used to, especially for those who are reliant on using colored markers or guides.
In the top left, there’s a distance meter that allows you to decipher how far away from the marker you are. This will only appear if you summon a gust of wind. This mechanic works for story elements, but also for other elements in the world you can find, such as rare collectibles.
It’s explained that players can also keep an eye out for other visual cues to discover more areas of the world. Smoke is one element that stands out in Ghost of Tsushima but there are other subtle cues such as “odd-shaped trees” or even animals trying to get your attention…sorta like a Disney film I guess?
In fact, at one point a bird swoops in, flies next to the player riding horseback, and guides them to a hidden location. During this sequence, I noticed that anything you can loot glimmers with a silvery sheen which indicates that you can pick whatever it is up. This also goes for crafting materials outside such as bamboo trees.
A fox is another animal that guides players through the world of Ghost of Tsushima. Exampled in the State of Play video, the fox leads the player to a shrine. Shrines act as a fast travel mechanic which means you can spend less time riding your horse if you wanted.
The interface isn’t entirely lacking, which is certainly what some disabled players, myself included were concerned about. Ghost of Tsushima will display different icons to indicate any dangers nearby. At one point we see a circular ring appear similar to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey where the more aware the enemy is, the more filled in the meter becomes. Adding to that, a bit further down the road the player encounters a beast which is illustrated by a white pawprint to start, —Similar to Farcry 5— then once it notices the player, the pawprint goes red to indicate danger.
There’s no form of subtitles shown throughout the gameplay which worried me, however toward the end of the video it’s revealed that there’s a Japanese voice track option with English subtitles. The fact the game seems to be teetering on a minimalistic focus and every other text element on-screen throughout essentially blending into the background…my worries are the standard subtitles aren’t going to be great.
It’s also mentioned that players can choose to enable this voice track through the options at the start of the game, which potentially means we’ll be able to adjust everything else prior to starting the story. The game still has a few months before it launches, so there may be accessibility options we don’t know about yet, but we probably won’t know about them until launch.
The wind element for wayfinding certainly looks lovely and intuitive, and the on-screen cues for nearby dangers are heavily welcomed. From the footage shown, the environments tend to be quite dark and desaturated. This does raise concerns for those who may need brighter colors or colored paths or markers to follow. But having said that, players also get the option from the beginning of the game to play in a Samurai Cinema mode which renders the entire game black and white.
It’s just hoping that simplicity and immersion aren’t going to detract from a player’s experience in Ghost of Tsushima if they need visual aids. A future video looking at the options available would be something I’d want to see prior to release. For now though, I’d say I’m fairly impressed with how the game seems to be displaying information to the player. What are your thoughts surrounding these areas?
Ghost of Tsushima is slated to launch as a PS4 exclusive and should arrive on July 17, 2020.