Sucker Punch releases its first major, and free, update for Ghost of Tsushima today with Legends and we sat down with the team to talk about it all. Earlier, we revealed more about the raids and how they demand teamwork and tempt trolls, but there is so much more to this content drop than what meets the eye.
Sitting down with Creative Director Nate Fox and Darren Bridges, we dive deep into Ghost of Tsushima Legends to reveal how much freedom this update truly gives players. From unique co-op experiences, to way more ways to show that creative flair through New Games+ and more Photo Mode options; there is a lot to love — and unpack — with the new content.
Tell us a little more about Legends and what players have to look forward to! What was some of the inspiration behind the different classes?
Bridges: When Nate first put together the pitch for Ghost, we knew we wanted co-op multiplayer to be a pillar of the experience. We’ve been working on this since the beginning. We worked for awhile on many different concepts and ways of marrying the cooperative experience to the Ghost singleplayer. The name Legends, it appealed to us for a few reasons. Legends connects to singleplayer of Ghost in the way that it is a series of stories told by a storyteller in Tsushima named Gyozen.
Gyozen is a sort of gatekeeper of Legends and he’s kind of the source of all of the stories. When you’re in a mission, you’ll hear him speaking as a narrator. He’s where Legends sits and how it connects to Ghost. He, along with everyone else on Tsushima, experience the events of the Mongol invasion; an overwhelming force coming into the island. Then there is one huge event and that’s when they begin seeing the Mongols start to get repelled by the Ghost and hear those stories about the Ghost himself.
Legends is [Gyozen] processing all of this information and retelling it as he interprets it from his perspective. From his perspective, one person couldn’t repel a Mongol invasion. There has to be more than one Ghost. And it wasn’t a mortal, it was, this idea that Ghosts kind of resurrected Samurai, the warriors that have come to defend the island. That’s how Legends marries into the single player story; it’s a sort of supernatural exaggeration, a retelling of the events with supernatural influences.
As for the classes, we have four classes that you can play as. There is the Samurai, the Hunter, the Ronin, and the Assassin. You can play as any one of those classes. Legends starts off with a quick tutorial to run through each class. You’ll pick who you want to start as, who you want to play as initially, and you’ll focus on ranking those classes up. You’ll be able to unlock more skills and whichever class you want to play next for as long as you go through this experience.
Can you tell us a little more about how you can level each class up with specific skills, or is the leveling more on a broader scale?
Bridges: There’s some overlap, there’s some individual progression; each class will have its own technique tree. When you set a foundation for the classes, you’ll have specializations for each particular character type. They all start basic and will use basic abilities, combat, range attack, and assassinations. Each class overlaps and has a few shared abilities.
After awhile, the class specializations begin expanding in a specific direction. For example, the Samurai is really good at using combat and staying in a fight to survive a long time. The Hunter is good with her ultimate attacks that focus on range and crowd control. Ronin is more support-based and the Assassin is all about getting in, doing a lot of damage, and getting out as quick as possible.
With the various competitive experiences, will you guys offer any sort of leaderboard system?
Bridges: We do have leaderboards, but not in raids specifically. All the missions in Legends are replayable at increasing difficulty levels. The three initial difficulties are brozne, silver, and gold. The first time you play through brozne is just the first experience. Then once you start into silver and beyond, one of our main priorities in developing replayable content was that we wanted it to feel fresh while you’re replaying it.
So on the story missions on silver, when you play through it, it’ll feel different because we’d swap out the encounters and we’ve added bonus objectives. Inn every two-player story mission in the third chunk of it, there’s a curse you can opt into kind of a double or nothing thing that’ll make it more difficult, and the ending more difficult, but you get more rewards if you can complete it.
With the three primary difficulties, we’re going to have a rating nightmare difficulty mission. We’ll select one mission and add some modifiers to it, we’ll change the encounters. That is the one you play to rank up in the leaderboards. It’ll be one of the highest difficulty areas in the game, so you can play it again and again with your friends and see how high you can score.
With so many new mechanics introduced, were there any games out there currently that helped influence the direction Sucker Punch took Legends?
Bridges: I don’t think we directly did. There’s a general principle of playing co-op that we tried to draw a lot from, like the idea of playing a specific role in combat. I think that one of the most enjoyable parts of co-op is where you can be the hero to your friends. Your friends can see that cool think you did, or you have a great opportunity to really just flub it and that’s hilarious too.
To me, the enjoyable thing about co-op is just to have fun with your friends. Like, one of the things you do can do in Survival is buy a gift that heals everyone. Using that at the exact right minute, or the ignite feature to light up all of the players nearby; you’re just running through a mission and see someone has purchased that and activated it and suddenly everyone around you starts to be on fire and you’re like “Gee, thanks buddy.”
It’s that connecting movement in co-op, because [that moment] says who did it, right? It says who activated it. We tried, when designing those features, to find ways that would allow players to feel each other’s presence and feel like they were the hero or the person that needs to be saved by someone else.
The New Game+ mode offers a lot of new content, what about it gives returning players a reason to jump back in and newcomers to join the party?
Fox: New Game+ was built to try and push players to have a brand new experience. So when you jump back in, you are rewarded with Ghost Flowers with whatever you do. IT’s a new form of currency that players can spend at this new vendor to buy cosmetics that make your armor look different, as well as charms that switch up your playstyle. I think a really good example of that is the charm of canine recruitment that allows you to sneak up on a Mongol dog and you can pet it until it fights on your side.
You could never do this in single player because we were being very ‘grounded’. However, New Game+ we were able to break the fourth wall a little bit so that players can experience the game in a new fashion. That’s the goal: to bring a freshness through these charms and through an elevated level of difficulty. We’ve rebalanced the game because we know that when you’ve finished it on your first playthrough, your hero is just really powerful and we need to have the villains also come up in level to meet that. And there are also upgrades for armor, bows, and swords, so that you keep picking stuff up off the ground with the intent that you’re building towards more strength.
Untimately, you can feel like a demi god. That’s really the biggest difference between Legends and singleplayer.
Any future plans beyond Legends?
Fox: Right now, we’re focused on the getting 1.1 update out the door, it’s a lot. It’s huge, both Legends and New Game+ with the associated charms and the new horse. But we’ve also included a few other upgrades namely to armor loadouts that really lets players tweak their builds so that maybe they want to have that lightning charm on their melee armor, but they want to have other charms that also help them sneak more effectively.
It’s really easy to swap out your playstyle by just switching out that base armor type. That also extends to the elapsed time counter; if you look at your saved game, you can tell how long you’ve been playing it. For some people, they really want the [elapsed time counter] and were very vocal about it, so we wanted to deliver that.
How the heck did you guys manage to keep this massive update from leaking?
Bridges: It’s insane. I swear, we spend so many days where we were like “There’s no way, there’s no way we’re going to be able to keep this a secret.” And then, the time kept getting closer and closer. We launched Ghost, and every day I’m like “Now, it’s going to leak.” Everybody kept coming up to me like “What did you work on? Ghost? I’m so excited for that game” and I would just have to respond “Um, different parts” because Legends is really the only thing I worked on almost exclusively.
What is your favorite part about Legends and the experience offered to players?
Fox: My favorite part is just being able to share your Ghost of Tsushima experience with a friend. I mean, if you’ve gone in and enjoyed the combat and the feeling of being in this world, launching into Legends is the next step. While it is more fantastical, it still feels a lot like Ghost of Tsushima because the controls, the characters; there’s a huge amount of overlap. And now you get to be in that gameplay experience with a friend that is going to save you from death and you’re going to save them from death. It elevates the experience to something that really bonds you.
Bridges: To me, the best part is the fact that we can give so much of this content to players for free. That, and I still can’t believe we kept it a secret (laughs).
Ghost of Tsushima: Legends goes live today for PlayStation 4 players. You can learn even more about this Ghost adventure with our game hub here!