Ghost of Tsushima: The Samurai’s Guide to Survival

The Samurai Game We've Been Waiting For

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Have you ever dreamt of being able to play as a samurai? Being able to stand up to your opponents with honor and courage, or sneaking around, killing them from the shadows? If so, then Ghost Of Tsushima is the game for you. The game delivers a beautfiul open world, filled with amazing combat and characters to keep you interested for hours.

First announced at Paris Games Week back in 2017, Ghost of Tsushima is Sucker Punch Productions‘ first game since Infamous: Second Son in 2014.

Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima introduction

The Story

Ghost of Tsushima is set on the Japanese island of Tsushima during the Mongolian invasion in 1274. You play as Jin Sakai, one of the samurai looking to defeat the Mongols. A deadly battle leaves Jin seriously injured, and teaches him that the samurai way of fighting may not be enough to defeat the invaders. His uncle Lord Shimura is captured by the Mongolian Leader Khotun Khan, leaving Jin to rally his allies to free him and rid the land of the Mongolian invaders for good.

When we first start the game, we are introduced to Jin and his uncle who are leading an army of eighty samurai against thousands of Mongolian invaders. Heavily outnumbered, we see the honor that the samurai have and how they are willing to give up their lives to push the invaders back. During this fight, Khotun Khan captures Lord Shimura and leaves Jin for dead.

This sole event drives Jin’s story, as he realizes he needs more than just honor to fight the invaders. This is a story that goes from honor to revenge, as we see Jin change from the samurai to the Ghost.

Moving aside from the main story, the side quest content is some of the best I’ve played. It’s never gets boring or repetitive. I would often engage in multiple side quests which I would never really find myself doing in other games. The side characters are great, and we get to experience their journeys as Jin helps them with anything they need.

Ghost of Tsushima Map
Ghost of Tsushima Map

Exploration & Collectibles

Ghost of Tsushima is very much an open world game, the world is massive and filled with many great optional tasks to do, and you can explore the world on foot or on horseback. I often found myself running to objectives rather than being on a horse, so I could take my time and fully immerse myself in this gorgeous world.

During exploration you will be able to find collectibles within the world. These can be anything from items to find, such as Mongol artifacts and singing crickets, to being able to participate in mini-games. One mini-game I particularly enjoyed was the Bamboo Strikes, which have you cutting through bamboo while button prompts are shown on-screen. The bamboo level starts at three, which is the easiest, then goes through to seven which can be quite tough if you cannot remember what prompts to press.

Players can also find Haiku locations, which allow you to meditate and write your own poetry. Completing these will unlock vanity gear for Jin. Vanity gear allows the player to customise their weapons and armor to make them unique. Players can also find fox dens, which will have you following a fox to a shrine that you can pray at. Doing this will increase how many Charms you can carry.

Speaking of Charms, they are important as they help to make Jin more powerful. Some can be defensive Charms that buff your damage at lower Health Points, and some can be offensive Charms which will have you doing more damage etc. These Charms can be obtained in several ways, either though quests, side quests or through special shrines called Shinto Shrines. There are 16 shrines in total, and each one will reward you with a new Charm.

Ghost Charms
Ghost of Tsushima Charms and Gear

During Jin’s journey through both the main quests and the side content, you will be able to unlock new armor for him. These armors can be fully upgraded at stores and give you several different ways of playing. There are three different slots for Gear; a head slot for hats and headbands, a face slot for masks, and the armor slot. You can change these in any way you want to make your character look unique. I found myself changing armor for different situations. If I wanted to be stealthy, I would use the Ghost Armor as this gives buffs to stealth gameplay. Whereas if I needed damage, I would wear armor that gave me more damage and health. It’s really up to you to choose which one you want to wear for each situation.

Ghost Armors
Ghost of Tsushima Armor Sets

Combat and Skills

Ghost of Tsushima has one of the best combat systems I’ve ever used. Early on it is difficult, but once you unlock skills you will be beating enemies in numbers, and it’s so satisfying. Holding L1 will allow you to block enemy attacks and tapping it at a certain time will allow you to parry, which you will need to do to stagger enemies and lower their guards. One of the systems I found myself loving was the stance system. This system has four different stances which are used for fighting different enemies. These can be obtained by either observing or killing a certain number of Mongolian Leaders, that you can find throughout the world.

Ghost Skills
Ghost of Tsushima Skills and stances

You can change stances that you have unlocked by holding down R2 and selecting the corresponding button.


Stone Stance R2+X

Stone Stance is the basic stance you start off with and is useful against swordsmen. These stances can be fully upgraded to do more damage.

Ghost stone stance
Ghost of Tsushima Stone Stance

Water Stance R2+Circle

Water Stance is used against enemies that use shields. They can be quite tricky, so patience is required to defeat them. You can upgrade this stance to break through shields and stagger them.

Ghost water stance
Ghost of Tsushima Water Stance

Wind Stance R2+Triangle

Wind Stance is very useful against enemies that use spears. These guys can be tricky and annoying, so I recommend you take the upgrade called Speed Defense which allows you to automatically parry any spear attacks during the Wind Stance.

Ghost Wind Stance
Ghost of Tsushima Wind Stance

Moon Stance R2+Square

Moon Stance is the last stance you will unlock and is useful against enemy Brutes. This stance has a series of fast attacks which will stagger the Brute, so they can’t get those big hits on you that deal massive damage.

Ghost Moon Stance
Ghost of Tsushima Moon Stance

During fights, while surrounded by enemies, you should always switch stances depending on who you are fighting, This is very easy to do and can be done on the fly. You can also deflect arrows with your sword in any stance while holding block. Cool, right? You will have to purchase this skill early on, but once unlocked those pesky archers won’t be a threat anymore.

Weapons

Aside from the katana, you have several other weapons that you can use in combat. Combined with the stances and parry they can be very useful, especially if you’re outnumbered. You can use a Half Bow or a longbow if needed. Half Bows can shoot fast, but don’t do that much damage whereas longbows are slower but can often kill the enemy in one shot. I never really found myself using the bows unless I had to for a specific mission. This isn’t because they are bad, I just enjoyed the melee combat so much that I rarely used bows.

There are also Ghost Weapons that can be used to get the upper hand on your foes. Kunai are throwing knives that you toss out into an area and can inflict massive damage or even stagger enemies, allowing you to finish them off. Upgrading these can make them kill enemies in a single shot. Black Powder Bombs are used as area of effect weapons. I found myself using these a lot against enemies that were huddled together. Very useful, especially when starting an encounter.

Ghost of Tsushima Ghost Weapons
Ghost of Tsushima Ghost Weapons

Smoke Bombs are used mainly as an escape tool. You throw them onto the ground, and it covers you in smoke allowing for an escape or helping you kill enemies without being seen. Sticky Bombs are also useful, and can be used on pesky enemies that are hard to kill. They are useful especially against Brutes and shield users. These bombs can stagger enemies, allowing you to move in and get the kill. They can also be upgraded to do more damage if needed.

Finally, we have the last Ghost Weapon: wind chimes. These are used to lure enemies to certain locations, allowing you to either sneak past or lead them into sights. I very rarely used anything other than the kunai and the Black Powder Bombs as I never really played the game stealthily, but the option is there if that is your preferred style.

I really enjoyed the standoff feature. This allows you to challenge enemies to a Standoff by pressing up on the D-Pad. Starting off, you can only challenge one enemy but once this gets upgraded you can challenge up to three enemies at a time (five if you use and fully upgrade the Sakai armor). I often found myself starting fights with this, especially while entering enemy camps. This could grant me an easy three to five kills in a satisfying way. This does not have to always be the case though. Playing the game stealthy is always an option and in some cases can be even more useful than fighting a bunch of enemies at one time.

Ghost of Tsushima Standoff
Ghost of Tsushima Standoff

I  hope this guide helps you through your early hours with Ghost of Tsushima. If you haven’t played this game yet, I recommend you pick it up and experience this magnificent PlayStation 4 title for yourself.


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Matthew is a Writer from the North-East of England. He is a huge fan of the Metal Gear Franchise and enjoys single player story driven games.

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