Ghost of Tsushima is the end of the PlayStation 4 era. Sucker Punch Productions was tasked with kicking off the PlayStation 4 era with Infamous: Second Son, and now we find the developer returning for the end. As we round the corner towards the upcoming PlayStation 5, Ghost of Tsushima represents everything about open-world games in this generation, for good and ill.
Apparently, Sucker Punch's ode to samurai cinema is exactly what people wanted. Not only is Ghost of Tsushima the best-selling debut of a first-party PS4 title in Japan, the game also crossed 2.4 million copies sold worldwide in just three days. That's a fantastic start for a new series, and it points to a potential sequel for Tsushima's protectors.
With a sequel likely, editor-in-chief Kat Bailey, reviews editor Mike Williams, and guides writer Joel Franey tackle the form of Ghost of Tsushima's follow-up.
Should Ghost of Tsushima get a sequel?
Mike Williams: Hell yes. I had some issues with the way Ghost of Tsushima's story played out and I would've liked a little more gameplay ambition, but it was exactly what I needed at this moment. It's a solid, compelling open-world that allowed me to take in a beautiful landscape, and live out the fantasy of being a samurai and a ninja. Hell, Ghost of Tsushima was also a callback to the older style of Assassin's Creed, a type of game that I thought gone with the success of Assassin's Creed Origins and Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Given that and the excellent sales start, I'd love to see a sequel for it. I don't know if I'd want them to reuse the same island or move to another location though. The hints of the mainland were tantalizing, and honestly I'd prefer a few more urban environments, as that's where stealth tends to be at its best.
Joel Franey: Probably, though I can't see it being a big loss to culture if it didn't get one. I'm not so desperate to see where Jin's character is going (who is?), as I am more intrigued in what a better version of this same game would look like. So much of Tsushima feels like a rough draft, something that needed to be refined into a purer form. The combat has its moments, but feels a bit wonky and one-note. The stealth has some interesting ideas, but doesn't really know how to utilize them. The idea of a samurai losing honor in favor of a more pragmatic approach is a solid one, but Jin never really seems to struggle with the idea once the first couple of missions are over. The grappling hook is criminally underutilized. I'm not even sure Twoshima should try anything new; it might just be enough to work out what it's doing with all the existing pieces.
Kat Bailey: I think Ghost of Tsushima was a good one-off project, but Sucker Punch should move on. It already feels kind of anachronistic in this generation. How dated will it feel in five years? If a Ghost of Tsushima sequel has to happen, I would like for a developer of Japanese descent to be the director, and I would like it to lean more toward authentic history than being a raw tribute to samurai films. There are plenty of ways that a potentially sequel could be improved. Hopefully those improvements will go beyond enhanced combat and improved graphics.
Would you like to see that sequel focus on Jin, one of his supporting cast members, or a new character?
Mike: I've been pretty open that Jin's story was probably the least compelling in Ghost of Tsushima. Lady Masako is a bit older, but she still seems to be able to do the murder, and Yuna was one of the more compelling cast members over the course of the story campaign. She stays on Tsushima to help Jin take down Khotun Khan, but she ultimately wanted to go to mainland Japan. I say let her and follow her journey.
Alternatively, there were actually two invasions of Tsushima. This game clearly covered the first invasion, which was a much smaller army in 1274. This is the invasion where the Mongol navy was ultimately defeated by a great storm that rose up around them, which inspired the Divine Wind mechanic in Ghost of Tsushima. The second invasion was much larger, coming in 1281. So perhaps that's a good foundation for the sequel, if Jin is still our hero.
Joel: My first impulse is to say Yuna should have top billing, as she was the most interesting and likeable character overall. I suspect in reality we'd get Jin during the second invasion in 1281, but that's not what I want. What I want is Yuna taking up the mantle of Ghost after Jin dies, the story of a thief-turned-legend who has far more reason to keep the samurai and upper echelons of Japanese society at arm's length. Even within the first game Yuna was nearly framed for the Ghost's actions in order to protect Jin's reputation. Seeing her struggling against both an invasion and her own society could be a genuinely engaging narrative, and build into the idea of the Ghost as a true figure of the common folk.
Kat: As far as I'm concerned, Jin's story is over. A potential sequel should either create someone entirely new, or hand the reins of the story over to Yuna.
Where should a sequel take place?
Mike: As I said before, the game is based roughly around the first invasion of Tsushima. Perhaps a sequel could take place during the second invasion, expanding from Tsushima to the nearby island of Iki, and Hakata Bay in Kyushu. Which allows them to start with the existing island, but expand to some new locations.
Sucker Punch could also move forward in the timeline. Japan is obviously taken with the world and characters they've created, so perhaps you move to the Sengoku jidai, the famous warring states period. This allows Ghost of Tsushima to draw on more recognizable historical figures; yes, this leans closer to Assassin's Creed's territory, but screw it. Playing around with Oda Nobunaga or Toyotomi Hideyoshi is why I wanted Ubisoft to go to Japan in the first place. It's why I play the Samurai Warriors games from Omega Force and Koei Temco. Make it happen, Sucker Punch.
I would caution with moving too far forward in Japanese history though, as you get in more nationalistic and horrible conflicts with China and Korea that Sucker Punch should stay far away from. Perhaps going back to the Heian period, with the rise of the samurai class in the first place, or the beginning of the Sengoku period with the Onin War.
Joel: The obvious suggestion is mainland Japan, or at least another major island. Tsushima is done and dusted, and the second invasion feels like the next clear step in the narrative; a bigger assault that lasted months with numerous battles. Alternatively, seeing the Ghost take the fight to the Mongol Empire itself might be interesting, confronting the enemy on their home turf or seeking to bring down key targets that—oh wait, this is just becoming an Assassin's Creed game now. I know very little about the history of the period (and honestly, Tsushima ain't helped much on that score), but if I had to choose, those feel like the clear paths leading forward.
Kat: An authentic location would be a good start, and not just a weird mashup of different attributes of Japan. I'm personally really fond of Hokkaido and its snowy mountains, which doesn't really get represented with Japanese media tending to focus on Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Alternatively, it would be neat to set the story in Nagasaki, where ships from the Netherlands and Portugal historically docked during Japan's isolationist period, giving it a little bit of a Samurai Champloo vibe. Finally, there's Hakone, which sits not far from the base of Mt. Fuji and is filled with beautiful waterways. There are a lot of different options, so I'll just go with, "Anything but Edo."
Should Sucker Punch go full Assassin's Creed, taking the same game, but in different time periods?
Mike: Part of me wants it. Part of me wants it so much. But ultimately, no. I think it's best for Sucker Punch to treat this like the Infamous games: get two or three hits out of this concept, a warrior in ancient Japan with aesthetics drawing heavily on samurai films. Perhaps the move towards other famous Japanese conflicts, combined with a further use of the actual themes inherent in the films of Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Tadashi Imai, and more would lead to a much stronger set of sequels.
Joel: Nah, probably not. Aside from the fact that that gap in the market is very much claimed already, Ghost of Tsushima lacks the overarching plot to glue the whole thing together, not to mention a unique selling proposition to really make the idea of a long-term series exciting. No, right now Tsushima can only sell itself on being the AC game that Ubisoft refused to make, but start leaping about through history and I suspect it'd just become "Assassin's Creed, but lesser". Nonetheless, I'm willing to be surprised, and seeing a new Ghost creeping through Aztec rainforests or 1920s Chicago speakeasies… well, I suppose I can think of worse things.
Kat: Ghost of Chicago? Ghost of London? I suppose that Ghost of Tsushima is enough of an Assassin's Creed knockoff as it is that it would make sense. I don't see Sucker Punch going for it, though. Doing so would only throw its connections to Ubisoft's series into sharper relief, inviting people to make unflattering comparisons. I'd say any future Ghost game should either stick with Japanese history, or ride gently into the night.
That's where our panel of esteemed writers stand, but what about you? Are you looking forward to a sequel for Ghost of Tsushima, and if so, what form should that sequel take? Let us know what you think in the comments below.