Ghost of Tsushima was almost a very different game, according to developer Sucker Punch.
On the PlayStation Blog, Brian Fleming, Co-Founder of Sucker Punch, discussed the journey that led to Ghost of Tsushima. He explained that InFamous Second Son and First Light had just shipped, and that it was time for the developer to move on from the superhero franchise. They did not know what their final product would be, and went into the unknown.
"So we set off towards an uncertain future - to conceive and create a new game - but starting that process without the faintest idea of what the final product would be" Fleming explained. "We launched ourselves into the unknown.
"Early on, we concluded that we wanted to build a large, open world experience - and one that featured melee combat. But beyond that we were uncertain. Pirates? Rob Roy? The Three Musketeers? All these were considered - but we kept coming back to feudal Japan and telling the story of a samurai warrior. Then one fateful fall afternoon we found a historical account of the Mongol invasion of Tsushima in 1274, and the entire vision clicked into place."
Fleming then goes on to showcase concept paintings that the team did for after deciding on the path that they would take. However, Fleming does admit that Sucker Punch did have a lot of creative problems. This included issues with the game's characters and narrative, as well as figuring out how to make combat work. The team also had trouble with the scale of the game, from world size, foliage placement, missions, characters, and more. Fleming admits that they had trouble keeping track of the state of the game, but eventually pulled through.
"In the end, what pulled us through this six (!!!) year project? I think the key was the clarity of the original vision. Unlike any project I've previously worked on, Ghost of Tsushima's topline vision stayed almost entirely unchanged throughout the years of development. The story evolved, the combat went through countless iterations, but the vision was clear from the first presentation to today: "A lone samurai survives the Mongol invasion of Tsushima, and is forced to reinvent himself to save his island home."
Ghost of Tsushima is available now for the PlayStation 4. The game currently holds an OpenCritic Mighty rating.