Since the release of inFAMOUS Second Son back in 2014, followed in quick succession by stand-alone expansion First Light, it has been almost 6 years since developer Sucker Punch Productions rolled out a new game. July's much anticipated release of Ghost of Tsushima on PS4 is of course, ready to change all that and this first new franchise in over a decade marks a stunning new direction for the studio.
Taking place on Tsushima Island in Feudal Japan's 13th century, the game pits you against the Mongol invasion and looks set to be a love letter to both the ancient traditions of the Samurai warrior and Japanese Chanbara cinema alike. Remaining true to their own heritage, Sucker Punch are clearly aiming for a high level of authenticity and exceptional visual quality, but also continue to embrace more than just the gameplay. Having produced one of PS4's earliest photo modes in inFAMOUS, it is great to see the studio once again supporting virtual photography with a fully featured tool set in this latest title. After several previous reveals and trailers, it was last Thursday's State of Play presentation that finally gave us a glimpse of what the upcoming photo mode has in store. It's worth pointing out that the features in this footage are pre-release and may be subject to change, but let's take a look at exactly what was shown and what else we can learn from this short preview.
A beautifully clean UI boasts visual depictions of each function
The first thing worth noting is that the video shows a seamless jump from the game in motion to the photo mode itself, a welcome sign that there is a dedicated button binding with no need to delve into an options menu to reach it. A beautifully clean UI boasts visual depictions of each function, great to cut through jargon and aid new users, while typically expected features include Field of View, presumably in degrees; Depth of Field with true aperture f/stop values; and a selection of 11 thematic Colour Grading filters. Amongst the list, a couple of other sections remain unrevealed but, going by the graphical icons, my guess is that these will likely cover focus adjustment as well as exposure / contrast settings.
11 colour filters include include B&W Vintage, Storm and Autumn
Before getting onto the more innovative features shown, a quick word on camera controls. From the on-screen legend, we can see that Ghost of Tsushima will use an orbit camera with separate Pan & Tilt for directional look, as well as Roll and "Distance" adjustment. If the latter is assumed to mean distance between the camera and subject, I must admit, I have slight concerns. A need to drive the camera back and forth along an orbit tether with no dedicated truck, dolly or crane adjustment could potentially make fine compositional changes quite tricky and even restrict the types of shots that can be achieved. Of course, this is speculative and I reserve all judgement for later, but I do hope that the photo mode receives the camera freedom that the content deserves.
Where this preview truly stands out is with the reveal of some new and more creative photo mode aspects. As well as a range of 15 emotions and an extensive array of character customisation options, Sucker Punch have put a particular focus on movement, in a way that literally brings the photo mode to life. Notice how the environment and costume elements animate within the frozen scene as the game's seemingly important winds continue to blow. Not a pre-baked effect though, the available options allow the photographer control over the wind's speed, direction and possibly even gusts, if my interpretation of the symbols is to be believed, as well as providing access to a selection of 14 different particles that are blown around with great visual impact.
This living environment will undoubtedly transfer more atmosphere and dynamism into still shots and also eliminates the occasional need to un-pause a scene to move a rogue particle that was obscuring your chosen composition. More significantly though, it serves to elevate the photo mode to a new creative level, especially with the ability to overlay beautiful tategaki script and accompany the dynamic scene with music tracks from the game's original score. Through these innovative features, Ghost of Tsushima's photo mode is not only ready to embrace regular virtual photography, but with great potential for users to create stunning GIF animations and short video sequences, it should be open to a much wider range of creative capture art as well.
Let me know what you are most looking forward to or if you spotted anything else in the comments below,