Ghost of Tsushima Director Breaks Down the Game's Impressive Duels

Ghost of Tsushima is officially out for the PlayStation 4 as of this past Friday, and folks can finally get their hands on the video game and play out the struggles of protagonist Jin Sakai as he works to free his island home from Mongol invaders. There's plenty to love in the game, but perhaps the most cinematic aspects of it all -- beyond the Kurosawa Mode -- are the game's many duels. Ahead of the game's release, had the opportunity to speak with Sucker Punch Productions creative director Nate Fox all about the game and how the team worked to get these duels just right.

Spoiler warning: Beyond here, there are certain aspects that might broadly spoil Ghost of Tsushima. You've been warned.

Ghost of Tsushima Duels
(Photo: SIE/Sucker Punch Productions) Can you just tell me a little bit about what was most important from those to get right? Because I know it would dilute them if you used them too often throughout the game. It wouldn't be as big of a deal. But I would've loved to just duel everyone in the game every time. So what did you guys want to get right? What was most important to you when you were trying to create a duel?

Nate Fox: The duel has two main components. One is that there's a feeling of tension that precedes swords coming out. And I think that happens before the duel even starts. As you're walking towards the dueling ring, and you see the lone warrior standing in it, and that environment is very serene. And you understand that you're going to go into a deadly, deadly sword battle. You talked to your opponent, and then there's the standoff where you and that warrior stare each other down, and slowly take out your sword. This is quintessential samurai cinema that precedes every duel.

The other side of the coin is that the fights require skill. The person you're fighting, you have to learn to read, and you have to learn to move and counter with very quick precision in order to overcome them. You can't use any tools like smoke bombs to make it easier. It's just about precision with you're sword. And that's because the duels are meant to bring that cinematic clash to life where it's just about honoring the sanctity of blade on blade combat.

And during these duels, whenever you whittled down their health, a third of the health, fourth of the health, whatever it may be, and they kind of cross swords for a minute. And they exchange some banter most of the time. And then you go back to it. Was that was that specific part of the duel just in there to deepen the relationship between the two fighters? Or was that kind of a moment to give the players a break because those duels are very tense? And I ended up using those moments to kind of catch my breath, and just reevaluate. Was that decision behind that, or was it just banter?

So they actually call them sword binds in duels. Those are there to help reinforce why they're fighting. Jin doesn't duel people just because they're there to duel. It's always for a reason that he's willing to kind of step into the ring and take another person's life. They have some form of relationship. And when they talk to each other over a sword bind, it's just to really force why they're doing this battle. I'm happy that it also gave you a break to take a breather. Honestly, I never thought of it that way, but that is a good bonus.



Ghost of Tsushima is now available for PlayStation 4.'s review gave Ghost of Tsushima a 4 out of 5. "Whether you want to just fight to grow your legend, see your companions’ tales through to their emotional conclusions, or just see what’s over the next hill, there’s no wrong answer when you’re asking yourself what you should be doing in Ghost of Tsushima," our review reads in part. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the upcoming video game right here.

What do you think of Ghost of Tsushima so far? Have you had a chance to play it yet? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!

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