A few weeks ago, Sucker Punch released the free update, Legends, to their award winning title, Ghost of Tsushima. If you have ever wondered what a developer can do to improve an already almost perfect game, Sucker Punch has answered your question. Within this, again, free update, players now have access to New Game+, additional aesthetic items, and a higher difficulty. The other side of this update is probably one of the best additional content releases in this generation, an expansive, developed, and well-thought multiplayer mode. This multiplayer mode includes three separate modes, Survival, two-player co-op, and a four-player raid mode. In the first night of playing, we kept asking the unanswerable question, “Why is this so good, and how is it free?”
The new multiplayer mode could have easily been a twenty dollar+ content update. The amount of thought, depth, and new content was truly surprising. It feels almost too good to be true, and every play session I find myself asking, “When are they going to monetize this?” It is a weird feeling, because I like free stuff, but I love the content so much, I want to make sure they can continue to develop; however, if Sucker Punch is being honest, not only do they not have plans to monetize, but they have plans to continue developing. Did they make some deal with a cross-roads demon?
While returning players may be expecting a historical setting with a seasoning of magical realism, like in the base game, Legends mode goes full haunting mythic. Set in a world with Oni, kami, monsters, and traditional Japanese folklore, players set out to overcome a fierce antagonist who, after being buried alive while pregnant, wishes to exact revenge on the entirety of Tsushima.
The new update includes a variety of new features, modes, and customization. Players have a current choice between four different classes, though it seems like they are positioning themselves to add additional classes in the future. As of now, players can be a “tanky” melee based Samurai, a utility based Ronin, a fierce, stealth based Assassin, and a ranged, burst style Archer. Generally, I would classify these classes as soft classes, meaning that while they can play niche group roles, they generally can be played in a variety of styles.
While many games are developed with multiplayer as a focus, so they deliberately focus on balance and role of classes, I was surprised at how well Sucker Punch succeeded in their class development, because one would assume this multiplayer was just a nice afterthought to an established single-player game. In the past, single player games would expand out to be multiplayer, like Red Dead, Last of Us, and others, and while their multiplayer modes aren’t bad, they are obviously not the intended strong suit of the game. Ghost has changed that trend.
Each class has a unique skill tree which allows only one of two class skills to be used, and three other class specific perks to be applied. These restrictions allow players to craft a variety of synthetic builds which allow for experimentation and unique party compositions. Personally, I main a healing Ronin who can mass rez, launch artillery, and heal throughout combat; however, that is only one out of many ways to uniquely build that class. Beyond the unique personal builds, teams can experiment with a variety of compositions to fit their survival, co-op mission, and raid needs.
Ghost of Tsushima: Legends presently has three main game modes for multiplayer. There are ten, two-player story missions that are each three chapters long all connecting in a singular arc that is concluded through a final raid, a series of four-player survival maps that range in wave length, and, presently, three multi-hour long raid missions which are also four player co-op. For the survival and co-op missions, there are three main difficulties, bronze, silver, and gold; however, once your ki score (gear rating) is high enough, players can try out nightmare mode. The raids do not have separate difficulty levels, but they all recommend a max ki score, and you are going to need it.
One of the premier new modes is the Nightmare mode and the weekly challenges that accompany it. While each previous difficulty level is a nice challenge step-up from the last, Nightmare is a smidge different. If you thought, “Hey, I can handle Gold pretty well, I wouldn’t mind another small escalation in challenge,” Nightmare may disappoint you. If you are a player that thought, “I would like something where the enemies are all boss level, and it might be interesting to have volleys of Hwacha arrows raining down on me every couple of seconds, so I can never take a break,” this is the survival mode for you. Having a mode where every player on the team must be on point for an entire hour straight, was something I didn’t know I needed so badly.
This amount of cooperation, communication, and challenge exemplifies the expertise of development. When I play a game, I want to feel like I have earned everything I’ve received, and the first time my friends and I completed this survival without losing a defense point, a simultaneous exhale of relief and accomplishment was easily understood by everyone in party. I still wear the reward gear, not because it is the coolest looking apparel, but because it actually meant something. While the Nightmare story missions aren’t nearly as difficult as the survival, having to efficiently and perfectly coordinate with a team member makes each successful mission feel like another notch in the belt.
Sucker Punch gave every player a couple of weeks to increase their ki score before finally releasing the raid mode for Legends. Being a veteran, Millennial gamer, I have had my fair share of raid experiences throughout the MMO era of the 2000’s and 2010’s. While some game developers seems to believe that raids merely constitute a lengthy dungeon, rare loot drops, and a beefy boss fight, a true raid is something a bit different. For me, a good raid is always a well-developed, multi-mechanic, communication based dungeon. A great raid employs a singular teacher, death. Throughout the contemporary age of MMO’s and Looter-Shooters, while skill has always been important, gear seems to be a heavily focused key for success. For Ghosts, skill is the true filter.
Legends raids have removed gear as a central component, rely heavily on skill, and makes team communication the most essential element. The developers have been able to take a mechanic that is usually identified by large player numbers (some traditional raid dungeons have required forty or more players) and emulate the same feeling with only four players. Every new raid I encounter on Legends impresses me with this feeling. In the past, a dungeon with just a few players can usually muscle their way out of bad strategy; however, one bad call-out, one player missing their assignment, or one player out of sync can end the mission or delay success for an additional hour.
This new mode will require grit, strong allies, and zealous skill. While casual players may recoil during some of my review, players looking for a strong team based game that pushes individuals towards mechanical perfection should migrate en masse back to Ghost of Tsushima. While the game rewards players with new customizations for their success, Ghost of Tsushima: Legends gives a sense of respect, dignity, and valor to those who can endure and triumph through the challenges of teamwork, strategy, and mechanical skill-work. I feel like yelling at Sucker Punch to take my money, so I can continue to test my skills and friendships through their future content. If you haven’t returned to Ghost of Tsushima since completion, now is the perfect time to see if you deserve the honor of being called a Ghost.
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Haven’t had the opportunity to read up on the base game of Ghost of Tsushima? Check out the Ghost of Tsushima review
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