Title: Ghost of Tsushima | Developer: Sucker Punch | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Initial Release: 17th July 2020
Ghost of Tsushima's most significant update so far, version 1.1, is just a few days away and is set to bring with it the new Ghost of Tsushima: Legends 2-4 player co-op modes, the always popular New Game+, pettable dogs and of course, some new options for the much coveted photo mode.
It's no secret that I am a big fan of the photo mode already, having given it the platinum rating in my original review thanks in part to an overwhelming beauty and innovative feature set, but that's not to say that there is no room for improvement. So before we find out exactly what changes Sucker Punch have made to their latest photo mode, here are some of the things on my own wish list.
Remember photo mode settings:
The Ghost of Tsushima photo mode UI is a beautiful one and the visual icons do help to speed up navigation through it but, as with most titles I photograph, there are times when I want to take a series of similar shots and would rather not have to work through every tab each time. With a simple trick of retaining the settings upon exiting, rather than resetting everything to the default values, this sort of thing would become a whole lot easier.
Increased camera bounding sphere size:
The camera controls in this game are generally pretty good, including a clever method of making an orbit-mode camera actually useable, but there are times that it would be nice to get further away from Jin. Whether for a moment of distant isolation or a wider shot of a duel, more camera freedom will always allow more creativity.
Switch between characters:
Speaking of camera freedom, the ability to switch the camera's bounding origin and auto-focus subject to characters other than Jin would also be welcome. Something like the Switch Character option found in Days Gone would be ideal, especially considering the upcoming addition of multiplayer.
make them appear fully engaged with their activity and surroundings...
Use photo mode with the bow & throwable items:
The game's control scheme is such that the D-Pad input normally used to access the photo mode is reassigned to the weapon selector wheel while holding L2 to aim. The result is that it is not possible to photograph Jin while he is firing arrows or using a throwable object. Although a small workaround of rapid button presses lets you get a brief moment with bow / bomb in hand, I'd like to see a better solution to fix this missed opportunity.
Reverse the depth of field scale:
With a very realistic implementation of aperture f/stop values, Ghost of Tsushima does offer great control over the depth of field in an image. However, I constantly find myself scrolling all the way from the improbable f/750 down to much wider aperture values in order to get a more desirable shallow DoF. It may be a simple quality of life improvement, but starting at the useful end of the gigantic scale would be nice.
Put some emotion in Jin's eyes:
Eyes help to tell a story, especially in a still image and although Jin has 14 selectable facial expressions that will alter the shape of his face, they all completely fail to engage his eyes and leave any supposed emotions looking really rather vacant. Adding the ability to manipulate the character's gaze direction would certainly go a long way to making them appear fully engaged with their activity and surroundings.
Is it just me, or is there an obvious solution here...?
Pose for the camera:
In a similar vein to facial expressions, body poses have now become a popular feature in many photo modes. I am not suggesting that our Samurai / Ghost should be throwing out comic shapes like Sam in Death Stranding, but I would certainly enjoy some training stances and meditative poses.
Adjustable tracking camera speed:
Another of Ghost of Tsushima's more novel features is the Tracking Shot which lets the camera automatically move through up to 16 custom positions. The trouble is that its movement speed is determined by the distance to the next setpoint and it is way too fast when trying to cover a larger distance. While multiple setpoints can slow it down for a smoother and more cinematic look, a simple speed setting would make all the difference.
More varied scripture stamps:
Despite the game containing lots of them for the titles of missions, there is currently only one kanji script overlay available as a Stamp in the photo mode. These beautiful logographs are very much in keeping with the subject matter and I would love to be able to choose from more of them. While we're on the matter, I have a feeling that a few of the game's own stylised logos will be making an appearance too.
One of the game's clearest nods to traditional Chanbara cinema is Kurosawa Mode, a wonderful homage to the legendary Samurai movie director. While you can play the whole game in this classic B&W style, complete with film grain and imperfections, it is completely missing from the photo mode filters. At the very least, the addition of contrast and film grain sliders could allow some recreation of the style, but given that it is already implemented, that actually seems more difficult. Yes, you can activate Kurosawa mode in the game menu settings first and then carry it into the photo mode, but then you are limited to only this filter. Is it just me, or is there an obvious solution here...?
it seems like a waste given the game's great potential...
Some things in photo modes are like photographic cheats, playing God with the time of day for example, but having certain elements of convenience is surely one of the big advantages of working with a virtual camera, so why not fully embrace them with quick change costumes. With the ability to swap armour without leaving the photo mode, you would never find yourself improperly dressed for the occasion again, and the soon to be added loadouts could be the perfect way to do it.
Hide all accessories:
It is already possible to hide Jin's helmet and mask, but the same can't be said for other accessories, primarily the bow, arrows and quiver. Although arrows can be fired away and the bow itself can be hidden by switching to a throwable item, a simple option to toggle the visibility of accessories in the same way as helmet / mask would be helpful when trying to capture the detail or elegance of the various outfits.
Multiple lightning strikes:
Capturing lightning can certainly be tricky, and while you can find a highly reliable method in my Top Tips post, it really is only useful for still images. The fact that the bolt appears just once each time you change the weather may be unintentional, but one thing for sure is that it seems like a waste given the game's great potential for capturing animated sequences. My only hope is that if this does change, it isn't at the cost of being able to freeze a single flash.
Add a sword glint:
A classic scene from Samurai films is the glint of light across a highly polished katana blade, something Sucker Punch even do themselves in an early cinematic. What better photo mode feature could there be to take those animated shots to the next level than a timed or intermittent sword glint?
Bring back the foxes:
Tsushima is full of helpful and playful foxes who will lead you to shrines, aid your progress through the game, and make for great photographic subjects while they are at it. Unfortunately though, once you honour the shrine, the fox that led you there will disappear and never return to its den. Not only does this feel like some sort of systematic extermination of these sacred creatures as you visit each shrine, but it leaves you without any of these furry friends left to photograph by the end of the game. Return the foxes to their dens please!
What changes would you like to see made to the Ghost of Tsushima photo mode and do you think they will make it into the version 1.1 update? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.