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Ghost of Tsushima Chopped Pirates to Become PS4’s Samurai Epic

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:04 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:04 PM
  • The final first-party PS4 exclusive, Ghost of Tsushima, released today.
  • Developer Sucker Punch Productions explains it considered pirates, Rob Roy, and The Three Musketeers before settling on a game about feudal Japan.
  • Ghost of Tsushima’s development occasionally ‘got away’ from Sucker Punch, who likens it to ‘wrestling with an octopus.’

What do a kilt-clad outlaw, swashbuckling pirates, and mustachioed swordsmen all have in common? They were all considered by Ghost of Tsushima developer Sucker Punch Productions before it settled on the concept of a samurai warrior liberating a land crawling with foreign invaders.

Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch considered a game about pirates, musketeers, and even a Scottish outlaw. | Source: Sucker Punch Productions/PlayStation

Sucker Punch co-founder Brian Fleming shared this piece of Ghost of Tsushima trivia in a recently published PlayStation Blog post  titled ‘The Road to Launch’ that looks back at the long journey to today’s launch. Fleming explains:

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.

Ghost of Tsushima
Early concept art bears an uncanny resemblance to the final product. | Source: Sucker Punch Productions

Massive Scope for an Open-World

The blog post also touches on the taxing process behind bringing Ghost of Tsushima to life, not least due to the impressive scale of the game.

But the real challenge? The scale. Nothing was immune. World size, foliage placement, dialog lines, missions, characters. These things didn’t just increase, they multiplied. 5x, 10x, 20x, even 40x in some cases. And none of the tools from inFamous were up to the task…. except for our visual effects system.

Fleming candidly reveals that the game ‘got away’ from the team at times, comparing unifying all its systems, story, and setting as ‘wrestling an octopus.’ Fortunately, staunchly sticking to the original vision helped Sucker Punch stay on track throughout Ghost of Tsushima’s six-year development cycle. Generally, positive reviews appear to corroborate this as well.

Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima’s development was like ‘wrestling with an octopus.’ | Source: Sucker Punch Productions/PlayStation

The blog also features early Ghost of Tsushima concept art, highlighting how close the final product remains to the original vision: an atmospheric world, steeped in mystique and natural beauty.