Title: Ghost of Tsushima | Developer: Sucker Punch | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Initial Release: 17th July 2020
Ghost of Tsushima Legends arrived this week and, along with a satisfyingly robust multiplayer co-op mode, version 1.1 also brings the likes of New Game+ and several updates to the already excellent photo mode. If you're new to the game, or indeed its photo mode, please do check out the full Photo Mode Review for an in-depth look at the camera tools, as well as my Top Tips for a few hints on how to get the best out of them.
Onto the update then, and the good news is that Sucker Punch have been paying attention to the feedback they receive, and the photo mode has been treated to its first additions since the remaining visual icons replaced a few generic placeholders in an early patch. This covers some of the most requested features from fans, including 5 or 6 from the wish list above.
Easily one of the biggest quality of life changes on that list was the ability to retain photo mode settings upon exit, rather than have them all returned to their default values. This has been addressed and now, if you exit the photo mode and go straight back in, you'll find every setting from the selected colour grading filter and depth of field to the actual camera position exactly as you left it. A perfect way to ease the pain of accidentally exiting a composition, and helpful for taking a series of shots, but it's not quite that simple.
a selection of new stamps that are a definite step up from what was there before
Maybe Sucker Punch realised that, without a "reset all" option, these retained settings could also cause problems. The solution then, is that photo mode settings are remembered just until you take a few steps with the character, after which, all is reset. It seems like something of a sensible compromise.
Within the photo mode itself, most of the changes are immediately visible having been given their own UI tab, and the first you will likely come to is Contrast (Black / White). Found just below the colour grading options, which still lack the Kurosawa filter unfortunately, this new slider boosts contrast significantly and can lend a much more dramatic feel to cinematic shots in particular. It is a one-way adjustment though, so don't expect to be able to lower the contrast below the game's own default setting.
Moving further down the list, we come to another new option that allows you to hide Jin, or your Ghost if playing on Legends, to remove them from view. You may also apply a smattering of mud or blood to the character model but, I personally think that the effects that occur naturally during gameplay both look better and appear more authentic. It is worth noting though, that these accumulated layers of dirt an innards are removed when switching to either of the preset overlays; something that is actually useful as a cleaning service.
While we are on the subject of the character, or rather just Jin in this case, his eyes remain fixed straight ahead and continue to make the optional emotions seem so unengaging. I swear that at least his smile seems bigger now though!
a very narrow range of sharpness that is more distracting than pleasing
Maybe one of the things making him happy is the enhanced shininess of his precious katana blade. A classic scene from samurai cinema is the glint of light across a warrior's sword; while this could be achieved in Ghost of Tsushima by getting the lighting angles right, it is now much, much easier. Thanks to a dedicated Sword Glint option, you can now simply add light glare to a drawn blade regardless of the direction of light. It is however, a fixed effect intended for use in still images, and not a quick flash which would have been more useful for animated captures.
More visual style can be found in the cinematic aspect ratios, with an ultra-wide 32:9 crop having been added to the existing 21:9, and a selection of new stamps that are a definite step up from what was there before. The single kanji script stamp has been removed and replaced with 12 new ones including a mix of standard logos, stylised designs and portrait oriented scriptures. With added colour to liven these up further, the new designs are not only attractive, but should give users a little inspiration too.
Not so much a new feature as a slight change in behaviour, the depth of field effect appears to have been tweaked to produce a shallower field at wide aperture values and short focal lengths. While more true to life, the result feels a little overdone with excessive defocus either side of a very narrow range of sharpness that is more distracting than pleasing. You may want to work at longer focal lengths and with smaller apertures (larger f/number) to counter the effect.
awash with a sense of foreboding
Of course, all of this applies to the photo mode in the main game, and whether you are on an existing play through or on New Game+, but the photo mode is also available in the online co-op Legends mode. Any concerns over using the camera with non-compliant strangers, or worry about possibly annoying people with it, are alleviated by the fact that you must join a photo mode enabled game to be able to use it. This disables matchmaking and ensures that you will be playing with a like-minded party, or indeed shooting solo.
The Legends game mode could actually be considered a new virtual photography feature in itself as the 4 distinct character classes bring new looks, and the mythic context of the stories provides a radically different look to the beautiful island of Tsushima. The supernatural folklore completely changes the mood of the game, with grotesque blights on the landscape and haunting new enemies, while the soon to be release raid promises yet more new visual content.
While exploring these new themes, you will also find a few photo mode features that are unique to the Legends mode. Most novel among which, is the ability to switch between the Ghosts in your party to use them as the subject. Undoubtedly handy to move around with the action, or to get an alternate viewpoint on your own endeavours.
Legends also features its own set of "weather" conditions. I say weather because these are found on the usual Weather tab and replace the standard conditions from the main game, while also removing time of day control, but in fact they are more of a set of distinct "atmospheres", vivid in colour and awash with a sense of foreboding. If you are hoping to enhance the mood further with video content, 6 new soundtracks are also available exclusively within Legends photo mode.
There are plenty of additions in this free update then, but there is one more that may be easily overlooked. Yes, you can finally access the photo mode while firing a bow, or indeed the blowgun. This actually works by default in Legends where there is no weapon wheel to override the D-pad input to access the camera tools, but for Jin it must be activated in the Gameplay Options. By setting Photo Mode (Archery) to ON, you will be able to access the photo mode before releasing your arrow / dart. This doesn't remove the weapon select wheel, in fact the photo mode is still inaccessible while that is on screen, but as you draw the string back with R2, the wheel disappears and the D-pad is free to be used to start photographing.
Whether new features or clever workarounds, it is great to see the developer repeatedly finding ways to achieve the things people want to see in the game. Legends is an excellent (and free) update for Ghost of Tsushima that adds fresh new content to both play through and capture. If you like the changes or have thoughts on what else you would like to see let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
[ Disclosure: Ghost of Tsushima reviewed on PS4 Pro using a retail copy ]
Full Feature Set: *updated
Photo Mode Access: D-pad Right
* Settings retain on exit, until character is moved in-game
Camera Movement: Orbit (non-fixed tether)
Orbit Horizontal: 360°
Orbit Vertical: 180°
Tracking Shot: New Camera Position (Max 16)
Focal Length: 12 - 300 mm (± 1)
Roll: -180 to +180 (± 1)
Depth of Field: f/1.4 - f/750 & Off
Focus Distance: 0.1 - 200 m (± 0.1 at <10; ± 1 at 10-200)
Colour Grading Filter: None + 10 Presets
Colour Grading Intensity: 0 - 100% (± 1 approx.)
Exposure Bias: -5.0 to +5.0 (± 0.1)
Contrast (Black / White: 1.0 - 3.0 (± 0.1)
Particles: None + 13 Presets
Particle Intensity: 0 - 100% (± 3 approx.)
Wind Speed: 0 - 44 (± 1)
Wind Direction: 0 - 359° (± 1)
Clouds: -5,000 to +5,000 (± 1)
Time of Day: HH:MM:SS (± approx.) * [not available in Legends]
Weather: Current + 8 Presets
* Weather Legends: Current + 5 Presets]
Animated Environment: On / Off
* Jin / Ghost: None / Hide / Muddy / Bloody
Jin Emotion: Current + 14 Presets
Helmet / Mask: Show / Hide
* Sword Glint: 0.0 - 15.0 (± 0.2 approx.)
* Aspect Ratio: Standard (16:9) / 21:9 / 32:9
* Stamp: None + 12 Presets
Music: None + 9 Presets
* Music Legends: None + 5 Presets
Game Menu Settings
Photo Mode: On / Off
Photo Mode (Archery): On / Off
Kurosawa Mode: On / Off
Contrast: Normal / Dramatic