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Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)

Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) - Review

by Paul Broussard , posted on 24 July 2020 / 10,307 Views

It’s been six years since Sucker Punch’s most recent outing, and they’ve returned with what is almost assuredly their most ambitious project to date. An open world game set in feudal Japan that seeks to blend stealth and sword combat into a cohesive whole is a tall order for any studio, and especially so for one that hasn’t really done much with either stealth or swordplay before. That said, Sucker Punch has history with handling ambitious projects well in the past, particularly Infamous and Sly Cooper. Is Ghost of Tsushima another success story, or is this the game where they bit off more than they could chew?


Ghost’s setting is the island of Tsushima in the late 13th century, situated between China and mainland Japan. Our protagonist, Jin Sakai, is a samurai defending the island from invading Mongols while upholding the samurai’s code of honor. However, after realizing the Mongols are willing to win by any means necessary, Jin begins to embrace sneakier and more underhanded tactics; usage of subterfuge and stealth rather than honorably strolling up to enemy fortresses, challenging everyone in a hundred foot radius to a swordfight, and being instantly fired upon by 15 different archers.

Jin is torn between personas of the samurai and the “ghost,” and the story primarily focuses on him wrestling with wanting to uphold the samurai’s code of honor, while also wanting to uphold the code of not being murdered by people who don’t care about honor. This split serves as the driving force behind the two major aspects of gameplay; the swordplay of the samurai and the stealthy tactics of the ghost.

Before diving into how the core gameplay functions, though, it’s worth noting that Tsushima is absolutely beautiful, probably the most gorgeous open world I’ve ever seen. It’s filled with a good bit of content too; plenty of enemy bases to raid and friendly settlements to find. Exploring is also rewarded, as you’ll often find materials to upgrade your equipment and weapons, as well as various locations that can boost your max health and healing ability.

If there's one thing Ghost absolutely excels at, it's the way it presents its world and everything that inhabits it. One very cool feature that really adds to the immersion factor is that setting a waypoint doesn’t cause a marker to pop up in front of you or some such, but rather will cause the wind to blow in the direction you need to go. It sounds minor, but it’s a really cool way to tie the game into some of the themes of nature and make the world feel like a more cohesive whole.


When you’re not traveling between locations within the world, gameplay is mostly divided into two halves: stealth and combat. Between these two aspects and the open world, Ghost has quite a bit of gameplay variety to hand. Having that gameplay variety, however, is often a double edged sword, because while it can lessen the chances of any one mechanic wearing out its welcome, it also often means that none of the mechanics have room to really grow and develop properly. And this is, by far, Ghost’s biggest undoing; both the combat and the stealth aren't particularly deep and are brought down by several notable problems. The stealth is especially bare bones; with stealth kills from behind, an enemy awareness meter, and the now pre-requisite stealth grass that’s in virtually every open world game with stealth mechanics. But there’s nothing that sticks out or makes Ghost’s stealth interesting; the mechanics are all bog standard stealth game material with no interesting new applications or uses. 

The combat is a bit better. Swordplay in Ghost has a certain visceral quality to it; each swing of Jin's sword possesses weight and slicing through enemies feels impactful. The combat also has more complexity than the stealth, with Jin possessing different stances that grant different moves and each are effective against different enemy types. Ghost does do a good job of making players experiment, as use of the correct stance is almost essential to quickly taking down enemies in a crowd. There’s certainly fun to be had in quickly switching between styles as you glide from enemy to enemy, and dodging, blocking, and parrying all work together reasonably well.

But, again, there isn’t really anything particularly interesting here; just your standard suite of light attacks for dishing out quick damage, heavy attacks for breaking guards, and dodging/blocking as defensive maneuvers. Even the much touted stance switching doesn’t do much beyond just make a certain type of enemy’s guard take fewer hits to break. It's all certainly functional, but it never felt like it was really challenging me or evolving in any significant way.


If that were the end of things, Ghost might have had a perfectly satisfactory if not particularly deep combat system, but this brings us to the combat’s biggest flaw - the camera. Ghost eschews action game convention by purposefully foregoing a lock on mechanic. This means that, combined with Ghost’s rather zoomed in perspective, enemies that you're fighting will routinely move off screen, out of view. And despite the developer’s promise that the camera would stick with enemies if pointed at them, it seems to consistently do anything but.

This is especially the case with the unlockable roll upgrade, which will often move the camera so that the player can no longer see the enemy they're rolling to dodge an attack from. The fact that both attack and dodge are forcibly mapped to the face buttons with no option to reconfigure the controls means that any time an enemy you’re fighting gets off camera, you have to make a choice. Either you fight blind until the enemy moves back into view (which, if they’re preparing to attack off screen, is making a dangerous wager with getting stabbed in the face) or take your thumb off of the face buttons temporarily and hope you don't get hit with an unblockable attack while you babysit the camera.

The lack of a lock on or targeting feature also means that there is no way to guarantee which enemy Jin will swing at when you press the attack button. In some cases, the game will seemingly just forget about things and target nothing at all, resulting in a number of frustrating moments where Jin opted to attack shrubbery rather than the 7 foot tall naginata-wielding behemoth who desperately felt my head would look better separated from the rest of my body.

Thankfully this, and the camera issues as a whole, are mitigated somewhat by how easily most enemies go down; as long as you don’t neglect to upgrade your sword, standard enemies will usually die in 3-4 hits, which keeps combat from ever getting too frustrating. Unless you really go out of your way to attract an enormous group of enemies, you’ll rarely find yourself in a position where you can’t fight your way out of a cluster, as long as you’re willing to consider your options carefully and switch between stances to break foes’ guards.


However, the ability to handle multiple enemies is a double edged sword, because while it gives the player more freedom in combat, it also inherently cheapens the stealth. Being detected has virtually no consequence, as you can almost always easily dispatch whoever is attacking you. And even on the rare occasion that you find yourself overwhelmed by sheer numbers, you can simply make a dash for a hiding spot and wait a few seconds for the enemy to forget about you. Ghost’s enemy AI is legendarily awful - one of the worst I’ve seen in any AAA game with stealth mechanics. You can run through a hole in the wall or dive under a propped up piece of wood and the enemy will instantly forget you exist. The AI in the original Metal Gear Solid, a game released more than two decades ago now, was more intelligent than this. You might reasonably believe I'm exaggerating the issues with it, so here is a short video showing just how easy it is to fool the game’s AI. It's truly astonishingly dumb.

A stealth mechanic with little to no consequence for being caught is barely a stealth mechanic at all, which is probably why the game occasionally makes the player participate in forced stealth sections where you have to avoid detection. This is usually done by either escorting a convoy of defenseless civilians, having the enemy run to kill a previously captured hostage if you’re spotted, or just automatically giving you a game over the moment the alarm’s raised. Despite my usual aversion to forced stealth segments, these were honestly probably the most fun I had with the stealth in Ghost, because it was the only time I felt like I really had to take things seriously. It’s not good game design by any stretch of the imagination; forced stealth is always, at the bare minimum, a cheap way to restrict the player’s options, but it at least adds some weight and genuine stakes to proceedings.

As you may have gathered from this, Ghost of Tsushima isn’t a particularly challenging game, even on hard difficulty. The exception to this is the game’s boss fights, which take the form of one on one showdowns with a named foe. These do provide a solid challenge, and often feature interesting movesets that you have to learn and adapt to, but the fights are also let down in their own ways.

Ghost’s boss fights share the same problem with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or Sekiro, in that they're purely combat focused in a game where combat and stealth are otherwise both equally viable options. It’s entirely possible to get through pretty much the entire game save the boss fights relying on stealth alone, and anyone who has been opting for stealth will be at an inherent disadvantage when all their gadgets are stripped away and they’re forced into a tough fight without having practiced the combat that much. One might fault players in this situation for avoiding combat up until they absolutely have to use it, but if a game allows for multiple solutions to the vast majority of its problems, it should either allow for both those approaches at every point or routinely require the player to practice the skills that they will be tested on.

On top of this, the game has a nasty habit of throwing boss fights in locations with no easy opportunities for healing, so if you happen to use up most of your health restores getting through a segment and then a boss gets sprung on you, you can be in for a real rough time taking on a fight with 20% or so of your health and no opportunity to restore it before retrying without aborting the mission altogether.


Even with all those criticisms, I can’t say I really dislike Ghost of Tsushima. Ultimately, I feel like its largest problem may have been over-ambition. While Sucker Punch has created some compelling open worlds before, they’ve never really tried their hand at sword combat or stealth, as the large number of rookie mistakes on display certainly shows. Terrible stealth AI and bad combat camera design - these are things that developers familiar with the respective genres would recognize as significant pitfalls to be avoided. And Sucker Punch might have too, if it had focused on one or the other. However, the attempt to tackle both stealth and combat creates a game that never really quite manages to fully get a grasp on either. Going forward, I hope the devs get the chance to take a crack at a sequel or another game with a similar concept, because I believe there’s genuine potential with a bit of polishing. As it stands now, though, there are too many flaws that keep it from being good.

But is it worth your money? That will probably depend on how much the issues I’ve described bother you. Ghost is a game that has a sizable amount of content, but much of it lacks depth or substance. If that isn’t a deal breaker, and you’re intrigued by the prospect of a title that comes as close as video games can to capturing the feel of feudal Japan, then Ghost is probably a solid buy. However, if you’re looking for thoughtfully crafted, fleshed out stealth or combat, I’d advise searching elsewhere, because like a ghost, neither can be found.


VGChartz Verdict


5
Acceptable

This review is based on a retail copy of Ghost of Tsushima for the PS4

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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96 Comments
JWeinCom (on 24 July 2020)

Just to get a step ahead of things, the same rules that typically apply on the forums apply to the comments section. You are free to disagree with a reviewer, but make sure your criticism is directed at what they wrote. Criticizing the reviewer as a person (i.e. accusing them of having a particular motive or any other form of insult) will most likely lead to moderation.

  • +12
Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

What I don't understand is how you go through the entire game, and on Hard mode you said, seemingly without realizing that you generate Resolve during combat? "If you happen to use up most of your health restores getting through a segment and then a boss gets sprung on you, you can be in for a real rough time taking on a fight with 20% or so of your health and no opportunity to restore it" As far as I know, there is no fight in the game where there is no opportunity for you to restore your health. And even if that weren't the case (and it is), I don't think I've heard someone consider it a detriment to a game if it doesn't restore the health/health items you spent before a boss fight. Did you want Megaman to restore your E-tanks, or Zelda to replenish your faeries in a bottle before a boss fight? I'm genuinely confused about this point.

  • +9
MTZehvor Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

I'm well aware that you generate resolve during combat, primarily by parrying attacks and breaking guards (at least, those were the two I had unlocked that were useful during boss fights). That said, I'd still argue it's a major handicap to start off at very low resolve and then largely rely on parries (since guard breaks take too long to be particularly helpful with restoring lots of resolve) to try and regain your resolve to a comfortable level, especially since that's a relatively dangerous risk reward proposition and a single mistimed parry can undo all the resolve built from a few successful ones.

I'm not terribly familiar with Megaman structure so I can't comment on that, but the distinction I'd draw for Zelda is that if your health is low or you're running out of resources before a boss or other difficult section, you can leave, get what you need, come back, and then tackle the challenge immediately. You don't have to abandon the entire mission (or dungeon, I guess would be the comparable thing) and start from scratch. Personally I think it'd be pretty annoying for someone who had to redo an entire Zelda dungeon just so they can arrive at the boss in good shape, but maybe that's just me.

  • +1
Hiku Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

I can understand if you are talking about it as a handicap (though I still don't understand how this is a criticism of the game, which I'll get to), but because you worded it as "no opportunity to restore it", and I don't think such a scenario can occur in battle, I wasn't sure if you were aware that you can. Maybe you can re phrase that part so that people don't get the impression that there are boss battles where you can't heal? As for what you described now about it being a handicap, and how you like to be able to replenish your resources before a boss fight like in Zelda, a couple of things. There's a charm you can get that's available as soon as Act 1 starts that slowly restores your health outside of combat. But disregarding that and what I'm about to say, I think it's pretty standard fare in videogames that you face a more uphill boss battle if you expended all your resources getting to the boss, while players that managed their resources better are rewarded with more leeway. But even if you don't find that reasonable, why exactly is this an issue for you in this particular game? As far as I'm aware, if you lose to a story boss, you get to retry the fight immediately, and start with 100% Health and 50% of your max Resolve. And for camp leader (mini bosses), if you fall to a camp leader, you don't have to kill the enemies you've already defeated when you respawn. That happened to me the other day where I cleared out the entire camp except for the camp leader. Tried to observe him for an extra stance point but got spotted, so I let him kill me to reset the situation. And when I respawned the camp leader and myself were the only two people remaining. So I also don't understand where your analogy of having to restart an entire Zelda dungeon comes from? Maybe I'm missing something.

  • +4
Cerebralbore101 Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

He's talking about the duels in the 2nd act of the game. If you start one of those duels with 20% hp, then you'll be at 20% hp everytime you restart that duel. But there's multiple ways around this. For example: You could just equip an armorset that gives you extra defenses and resolve.

  • 0
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Hiku Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Thanks for that explanation Cerebralbore101. Though I'm now confused about this. After reading your comment I looked up a duel bossfight on Youtube and found a player going into one with 60% Health and 100% Resolve (8 points). After dying and retrying, they started off with 100% Health (more than what they originally had) and 1 point of Resolve (less than what they originally had). But you describe a scenario where you restart with the same amount of health you had going into it? Could you tell me the name of a mission that has a boss fight where this happens? I'd like to test this. So far the lowest Resolve I've seen someone restart with is 1 (although I've also seen someone restart with 50%, which is confusing), and that is enough to heal.
Though if it's possible to restart with 0 Resolve somehow, even without the option to change your gear to something that increases resolve or healing, since you get to retry infinitely, it shouldn't be too hard to parry the first couple of attacks and heal.

  • +1
Cerebralbore101 Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Sure, I have an example. Let's say you choose to fight some regular enemies before going on to do the final duel with the last of the strawhat swordsmen. Let's also say you neglect to heal from those previous fights, and your resolve is at 0. Then you start the fight with the final strawhat with 20% hp, and 0 resolve. Well now the game saves a checkpoint just after that duel cutscene, and then you are forced to restart the duel always at 20% hp. Similar things can happen in other bossfights. But IMO this is a pretty negligible issue, and only really brought on by player neglect.

  • -2
MTZehvor Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Throwing out a massive SPOILER warning here as I'll be listing the name of several story essential fights below.

That's interesting to me; maybe it's a difficulty thing and you only don't get your HP refilled on hard?

For me, almost every single boss or (duel) that I went into, I restarted the fight after death with the same health that I entered the fight with. Both Ryuzo fights, all of the straw hat duels, and the spirit of Yarikawa. (can't say for sure with Shimura as I started off with full HP on that fight).

The Khotun Khan boss fight was a very weird exception, as I came into it with full resolve and almost full health, and after coming close to beating it on my first try, the game booted me back with only one resolve and full health. At the time I figured it was just some weird glitch and that the game normally just sent you back with the health/resolve you started with, but given what you've said maybe there's more to it?

  • -2
Hiku Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Since you seemed to have experienced two of these different scenarios on the same difficulty, there seem to be either different rules for different boss fights, or something else that triggers it. Looks like there are at least two different retry conditions. #1 Retry with the same HP and Resolve you had going into the fight. Or #2 retry with 100% HP and 1 Resolve. (The one I saw with 50% Resolve could be a third one, but as I can't see what they had going into the fight, it could just be Condition #1.)

  • +1
Evilms (on 26 July 2020)

5/10

big lol

  • +4
Erazor_DJ (on 25 July 2020)

Death Stranding 4/10
The Last Of Us 2 7/10
Ghost of Tsushima 5/10

NEXT.

  • +4
coolbeans Erazor_DJ (on 28 July 2020)

I can provide independent validation that those first two are indeed on the mark. Good job to that guy. ;)

  • 0
Jaicee (on 24 July 2020)

I have complicated feelings about this game myself. I really, really LOVE this game's story (so far anyway; I'm not done yet) and setting! It's also just breathtakingly beautiful in a way that makes me genuinely WANT to explore the vast landscape that it offers. I also love many of the types of side quests that are offer (haikus especially!) because they're pretty clever in a way that just makes for thematic cohesion. BUT...sighs here comes my nigh inevitable complaint about, frankly, really this genre of game in general...there is just SO MUCH to do that I've gotten to find the volume of it all burdensome. It feels like I'm not supposed to stop and take a moment to actually just take in and enjoy the ambience of the game's world. GoT feels so downright desperate for me to feel constantly rewarded, like I'm constantly making progress toward set long-term objectives, that the sheer volume of side quests stopped feeling organic to me after long enough and the freedom the game offers me as an open world adventure has started feeling somewhat superficial as a result. I'm not saying "give me a large world to explore that offers me nothing to do", but rather "in an open-world adventure of this scale, give me maybe 50% fewer items on my checklist to do so that it feels more natural and genuinely free and not so much like just a game with an endless laundry list of chores to accomplish."

  • +4
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OTBWY (on 24 July 2020)

That video about the AI... that's mind boggling..

  • +4
Hynad (on 27 July 2020)

I give this review a 5 out of 10: Acceptable.

So many points in there fall on the seemingly poor gaming ability of the writer, and not the game's actual faults.

  • +3
MTZehvor Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

I died maybe twenty times throughout the entire 40 hour game on hard mode but sure go off on how this is all because I suck.

  • -2
Hynad Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

You complain about having to move the camera by yourself. So, seemingly, it looks like it's on you rather than the game itself.

  • +2
MTZehvor Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

...that makes no sense whatsoever.

The game's combat system has no way of ensuring enemies stay within the player's field of view. There's no lock on feature like Devil May Cry or Dark Souls, nor does the camera zoom out to ensure the player has view of the entire arena like Arkham or the original God of Wars. Adjusting the camera mid battle to compensate for enemies moving off screen is going to be inevitable from time to time, regardless of how good or bad a player you are. And that's an issue with the combat system; no fast paced melee combat system should routinely require you to babysit its camera so you can see who you're fighting.

  • -2
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Hynad Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

I had absolutely no trouble keeping the camera adjusted while fighting. So, yeah, that makes me think it's on you. Sorry if that hurts your feelings. I give your reaction to this a 5 out of 10: Acceptable.

  • +1
MTZehvor Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

Ah, yes, the famous "I didn't encounter the problem so it doesn't exist" defense.

You're certainly welcome to whatever opinions you feel like. That being said, the excuse of "you're just bad at it" is a rather tired one that's generally made by people who can't summon the effort to actually find a legitimate response to a critique, so I figured I'd give you the chance to elaborate on it. Given this response, though, it seems like you've already made up your mind against having an intelligent discussion in advance.

  • -1
Hynad Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

What is there to elaborate? I have no trouble whatsoever adjusting the camera while fighting. I am used to games not locking you to a single opponent, the way Zelda OoT popularized. I find this complaint silly. Do you complain about FPS shooters when they don’t allow you to lock-on a target, and when you have to look around in order to face the enemies that attack you from your back?

  • +1
MTZehvor Hynad (on 28 July 2020)

Of course not, because shooters (wisely) map the commands you primarily need to attack to bumpers and triggers, which allows you to adjust the camera and fire your gun simultaneously. If a shooter came out that forced you to use the face buttons to shoot while simultaneously controlling the camera with the right stick, it would be criticized for the same reasons, and I imagine more people than just me would have problems with it.

The issue at play is not "the game lacks a lock on, and therefore the combat is bad." The issue is that the game lacks both a lock on as well as a way to compensate for what a lock on does, which is to guarantee that the player can always keep their target in view. As I previously mentioned, plenty of game have accomplished this without a lock on system, including the Arkham games and the older God of Wars. And, conversely, the new God of War, despite having a lock on, also gives its players the freedom to move its camera around during combat by mapping its attack commands to R1 and R2.

Combat systems have evolved to the point where they've consistently been able to ensure the player doesn't need to take their hands off of their primary attack commands to fiddle with the camera mid battle. Even if these issues are mitigated a bit in Ghost by how easy the game is for the vast majority of its runtime, there's still no excuse for bad design that accomplishes less than the standard action game in this day and age.

  • -1
Hiku (on 26 July 2020)

People often criticize the A.I for characters behaving unintelligently. But making characters look stupid can be an unavoidable byproduct of game design. For example, in many stealth games (this one included) enemies are often times staring right into a wall so that you can conveniently sneak up behind them, when all they had to do was not stare straight into the wall, and you would never have an opening.

I think enemies in this game are meant to lose track of you if you hide under anything, in which case the A.I. is behaving as intended. The question is then whether there was a better way to handle the hideout spots in THIS game.

Would you feel better about it if instead of broken cart, it was an underground passage with 6 different exists, and that's why enemies lose track of you, and you have to wait there for 3 minutes before you get out? I wouldn't in this game. Because unfortunately this is no Metal Gear, so the trade off wouldn't be worth it for me, and I'd only end up using stealth less than I already do. I'd just fight the enemies head on then instead of hiding. There's hardly any weight to the consequences of my mistakes as it already is with how checkpoints work. But what I do like about the stealth mechanics here is how the various assassination skills and tools feel on impact. If all I want to do is a sweet chain assassination in this environment, then I appreciate that Sucker Punch chose hideout objects and locations that are not limited to what makes logical sense, but by what's convenient. And that I don't have to lay in hiding for 3 minutes, and that enemies instantly lose track of me, when all I want to do in this game is get back to what I was doing quickly. If this was a significantly more fleshed out stealth game then I'd probably feel different.

  • +2
MTZehvor Hiku (on 28 July 2020)

I think my primary issue with this is that it undermines the point of a stealth mechanic entirely. Games like Metal Gear Solid, Hitman, or Splinter Cell have enemies pursue you aggressively because they need a threat for the player failing the stealth component of things. There has to be some discouragement for failing the stealth in place, or else players won't take it seriously. Why bother carefully planning and sneaking your way through an enemy base when you can get just as effective results by sprinting through at full speed and then ducking under some obstruction?

And the problem is that because Ghost's AI is so unintelligent, the penalty for failing the stealth all but disappears. Get caught? No biggie, just find a piece of wood to duck under or a hole in the fence to slip through and they'll immediately forget about you. There's no reason for me to weigh my options carefully or plan things out well when I can do just as well by assassinating three dudes in the middle of a crowd and then running off to hide.

I don't think the game would be better by requiring the player to wait 3 minutes for things to calm down, just add something that doesn't make it quite so easy to fool the AI into believing you no longer exist. At least make it so that they can do something to you if you duck under a piece of wood or a house and don't instantly forget about you.

  • -2
Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

I agree with the criticism of the stealth. It is indeed hilarious and cringe inducing at times. But the combat? You have perfect dodge, perfect parries, a myriad of tools to use, multiple armor sets that vastly change your combat style, and an excellent archery system. The combat is anything but bog standard.

  • +2
QUAKECore89 (on 24 July 2020)

I didn't know the AI can stop chasing me and call out to go back to patrol when i hide underneath the broken woods?...

  • +2
xl-klaudkil QUAKECore89 (on 24 July 2020)

Thats kinda with every open world, even zelda botw.

  • 0
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QUAKECore89 QUAKECore89 (on 25 July 2020)

Oh dear, do you guys want me to sell my Ghost of Tsushima or something? Like i'm not allowed to play first party PS4 game?

  • 0
Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

I have questions about another point I don't understand in your review, so I'll make this a separate comment. What kind of stealth mechanics do you think we should be able to utilize in boss battles that we can't? And wouldn't you consider the many camp leaders or side quest mini bosses available before the Act 1 story boss as ample combat practice? And since the tutorial shows you early on what you can expect from a story boss battle, (Being unable to sneak up on the boss while having to fight them in a narrow space (bridge) where there's nowhere to run or hide.) is it really reasonable for a player to expect otherwise? But on that note, I've always been of the impression that you can almost always expect that rules that apply to regular enemies don't apply to bosses. And vice versa. I can defeat almost every regular enemy in Metal Gear Solid by luring them in with a dirty magazine, holding them up a gunpoint, and then choking them out. Usually can't use any of those strategies against bosses. I can launch almost every enemy in Devil May Cry to put them in a vulnerable airborne state, but I can't do that with most bosses. I can convince regular enemies in Persona 5 leave the battle (some times without laying a finger on them) and still hand me the battle rewards, but I wouldn't expect to be able to do that with a boss, etc.

  • +1
MTZehvor Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

What immediately springs to mind is the original Deus Ex, where you can engage bosses in straight up combat, but the environments are also set up to let players hide, sneak up on bosses from behind, hack machines and lure them into traps, turn automatic weaponry like turrets against them, etc. I think my ideal way of setting up bosses in this game would be setting up something similar; and I think it already mostly exists in the game with the larger Mongol forts that house leaders. Leaders function as tougher enemies in the midst of an enemy hotspot, and the game's freedom of choice is on full display here. If you're confident in your combat ability, you can stroll up to the fortress, kill several guards with face off and then take down the leader and whoever's left. Or, alternatively, you can pick guards off one by one until only the leader is left, and then sneak up on him to either get a straight up kill or give yourself a massive advantage in the ensuing fight.

A full blown boss fight would, ideally for me, be that but bigger. Instead of having more linear, scripted action setpieces that culminate with a one on one fight at the end, give the player a gigantic fort with an enemy somewhere inside that needs to die, and let them figure out how they want to accomplish that. If the player wants and they're confident enough in their combat skills, they can immediately challenge enemies to a faceoff, and then fight their way inside, or maybe even just instantly challenge the boss to a fight similar to what exists in the game now. Conversely, if players want to be more stealthy, let them sneak inside and dispatch guards. Maybe take a playbook out of the final part of Act 2, and give them discoverable alternative ways of taking out enemies/weakening the boss, like poisoning their drinking supply. Something like that would encourage organic and careful scouting of the region, and might add some much needed depth to the stealth as a whole.

Obviously this is just off the top of my head and professional game developers could do a lot more with it, but I think the game industry has demonstrated that there's ways to create bosses which are fun to tackle with both combat and stealth. To quickly touch on another point you bring up, I certainly don't expect bosses to be just as vulnerable to everything as regular enemies, but I also don't think they just completely restrict over half of the major gameplay mechanics.

  • -2
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Hiku Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Well if I consider some boss fights in this game under the scenarios you described of giving the player options for when, where and how they engage bosses, a potential issue that comes to mind is that they'd seemingly lose control of how they want to build up and execute the battle. For example, if Jin and another character start off a conversation as friends, but during the conversation the tone starts to shift, until they are enemies, preparing for combat, then sneaking up on them before that scene occurs wouldn't make sense. And if you'd be able to do it afterwards, then I don't think the developers would be able to create some of the same memorable stand off moments that they have in the game, such as (using an example from a trailer to avoid spoilers) Jin and another characters staring each other down while redying their weapons, carefully positioned in a beautiful field of fallen red autumn leaves, with just the right view to make it a sight that will be imprinted in my memory for a long time. So I think the primary reason is so the developers can guarantee that we are seeing and hearing what they want during those moments. I don't know if I'd categorize the options you can't use during boss battles as over half the major gameplay mechanics, depending on what you mean. There are way fewer skills exclusively used for stealth, and even fewer that you can't use during boss battles. But if you count things such as calling and riding your horse, using the guiding wind, clearing out fog on the map, upgrading your gear, and fast traveling, etc, which I consider all to be major gameplay mechanics, then sure. You can't really use any of those during boss battles. But I think that's pretty common in games, and it shouldn't be a matter of quantity, but what makes sense for that particular game. If you find it unacceptable that over 50% of what you consider major gameplay mechanics are not possible to utilize during boss battles, then a lot of memorable boss battles I've had in various games over the years probably wouldn't exist. In fact, some of my favorite and/or most memorable boss battles have been ones that have completely different rules from the rest of the game, such as Suikoden's duel and map strategy battles, the bullet hell shooter at the end of Devil May Cry 1, piloting a Metal Gear in MGS4, etc. Nothing in the game prior to that prepared me for those battles, but that was part of what made them stand out as special and interesting.
If game designers come up with more fun gameplay mechanics to use outside of boss battles, I don't think they should have to worry about implementing them just because it may cause the percentage of major mechanics unusable in boss battles to pass 50%. Especially if they prepare you for what to expect in most boss battles. As they do in the tutorial portion here, and with the combat practice I've gone through with the 30+ something camp leaders I've encountered before reaching the Act 1 story boss.

  • +1
MTZehvor Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

I think it would be possible to have that still make sense. Plenty of games have boss fights where the characters confront each other, and then slip back into stealth for the beginning. Take the Mr. Freeze fight from Arkham City for instance, which starts off with Mr. Freeze threatening Batman openly, and then Batman slipping into cover so the gameplay can begin. The setup might need to be changed a bit for certain things, but personally as someone who prioritizes gameplay above story, I think that would be a worthwhile tradeoff to provide the player with more options.

I do think it's reasonable to say that roughly 50% of the mechanics aren't in play during boss fights. Not only is every stealth mechanic gone, but you're also prevented access to using various tools that you'd normally be able to use in regular combat, like the bow, kunai, smoke bombs, sticky bombs, and darts. You're right that in many games bosses aren't vulnerable to every mechanic in the same way that standard enemies are, but I'm not sure I've ever seen the player just flat out denied access to so many of their standard tools used for defeating tools in a boss battle. Even in something like Devil May Cry where you generally can't launch bosses the same way you can regular enemies, you still have all your moves available, and your launcher can still be used to propel yourself into the air. Unless it's an option that would normally just win the fight altogether like Persona's negotiations and can't really be worked around, these abilities are still generally left to the player's disposal, only nerfed so they don't break the challenge. I feel like a more apt comparison would be imagining a DMC game where your guns and style moves disappeared during a fight, and you were only able to fight every single boss with standard melee attacks. That's kind of what Ghosts' major fights feel like to me.

And speaking of Devil May Cry, it's interesting to me that you bring up the Mundus fight, because the general consensus among the fanbase is that that's one of the least well liked segments of that game, for similar reasons; it feels a little arbitrary to expect the player to handle a rail shooter-esque segment when they haven't done anything like that previously. That doesn't make it wrong to like that segment, but it's just an interesting point to bring up imo because it often gets the exact same criticism.

That said, I would point out that even in those cases that you mention; the first Mundus phase in DMC1, the Rex vs. Ray battle in MGS4; those are largely one off segments. Games that do restrict or change up the mechanics drastically for a section tend to do it once and then leave it be; whereas every single major battle with a named character operates with the restricted mechanics of Ghost's duels.

All that aside, this may just come down to personal preference. For me, personally, keeping a consistent gameplay system that works across all facets of the game is of higher priority than unique setpieces that might not work as well unless they compromise the gameplay (one of my biggest issues with Wonderful 101). That may not be as big of an issue for you, or you may feel entirely differently; that the spectacle or feel of the moment is worth some restrictions on gameplay. And that's totally fine, I'm all for different opinions. But I hope that at least provides some perspective into where I'm coming from and what I personally think is good game design.

  • -2
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Hiku Hiku (on 25 July 2020)

Since the start of the game when the camera pans out to reveal that epic shot of the Mongol army at the beach, to the player controlling the horse down the hill in a restricted but (because of it) visually spectacular fashion with bombs and fire arrows raining down, to the practice young Jin had with his uncle, I think their focus on having major battles occur in specific controlled locations, under certain conditions, is something that can be necessary for the atmosphere and story they're going for. If Jin snuck up on let's say the boss you fight in the field of red autumn leaves, I think that would feel pretty strange and uncharacteristically dishonorable. As far as I know, Jin resorts to Ghost tactics on those who deserve it, when he feels he has no other choice. If there is a point in the story where this changes and he'd stab anyone in the back, it's at least not something that seems plausible for his character in any of the boss fights I've been through so far, aside from maybe the tutorial boss.

I'm not exactly sure how to quantify the amount of skills not usable in boss battles, since there are things you can do that are not learnable skills you can expend skill points on. But I count 38 such you can use in boss battles, and 32 that you cannot. So if we go by that metric then let's say roughly 50%, sure. I'd say Metal Gear Solid bosses are similar in this regard. Almost all boss fights start off under the premise that the boss immediately knows your location, which creates a scenario that is quite different from how you're able to approach most regular enemies using the element of surprise to gain an advantage before the first exchange. Often times you can't even have bosses lose track of you at any point. Though there are some bosses where you can. But even in those cases, the options you had under those conditions outside of boss battles are mostly gone. You can still equip the cardboard box for example, but the boss will know its you. You can't hold them up (except The End, off the top of my head), you can't choke them out, you can't hide the body from guards, because none will be searching the room anyway, etc. Though I never considered this unacceptable, or surprising. If they come up with fun mechanics to use outside of boss battles, it's probably best to implement them than worry about boss battles sharing fewer similarities.

The Mundes fight I mentioned was more in the category of memorable than a favorite. I didn't find it particularly fun, but it stood out as as a memorable part, largely because it's a different scenario. I even remember the music for some reason. And while the duel boss fights in Tsushima are not one offs, I think facing largely different conditions than normal during boss battles is something I've usually found interesting. If it's properly executed, then I don't mind if all boss battles in a game are majorly different.

I do understand your view on this better now. Though even if I may not have the same inherent concerns of boss battles being different, I do still think this game properly prepares you for what to expect there through the duel boss fight in the tutorial portion of the game. If someone doesn't take that as a sign for what's to come, somehow going through the rest of the game mainly practicing things that were not usable in that tutorial duel, then I would blame the player if they find themselves unprepared for the challenge.

  • +1
Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

Also, how much time did the reviewer put into this game? I've put in around 60-75 hours since release, playing every moment that I didn't have to either work sleep or eat. Despite that,I haven't even reached the 3rd act of the game. Yet the reviewer here managed to finish the game and write a review in that time? Sounds to me like all he did was rush to the finishline as fast as he could, barely taking in a third of the content the game has to offer.

  • +1
MTZehvor Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

Couple of things that I think are worth noting here.

First, my copy of the game came in two days before launch, so I've had a bit more time to play than people who got their copy on launch day.

Second, if you're near the end of the second act, then you're pretty close to being finished with the main plot. The third act as a whole is substantially shorter than either of the first two.

Anyway, with that aside, my initial playthrough was around 40 hours. I certainly didn't handle every single sidequest or optional activity that was thrown my way, but I think I got through a good chunk of them, including completely liberating the bottom third of the map, mostly liberating the top two sections, maxing my resolve and health and coming close to charm slots, and doing a good number of the optional tales involving the rest of the main cast. I'll freely admit I don't realistically have time to handle every single sidequest and go for 100% completion if I hope to get the review out in a timely fashion, but I also think I engaged with the world enough to form an informed opinion.

  • +2

I don't expect someone under a time constraint to do 100% completion. I think somewhere around 70% completion would be enough for an open world game. I'll compare my 100% completion time to yours once I'm done with my first playthrough.

  • +1
JWeinCom Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

So for on howlongtobeat it says the average time for the story alone is 20 hours, and for 100% around 60. Unless the sidequests are really introducing a lot of new gameplay twists or important story content, I wouldn't think it's necessary to play more than 15-20 hours of them to have an informed opinion.

  • -2
Hiku Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

Where can I view my playtime? I thought that was the number on the save file, but that appears to be the current time of day. Though I think I'm over 20 hours in before fighting the first Act 1 boss. I haven't actively avoided progressing the main story, but just found the other quests I ran into along the way interesting enough that I didn't feel the need to progress the main story faster.

  • +1
MTZehvor Cerebralbore101 (on 25 July 2020)

Unfortunately, I don't believe you can view it in game. I don't think the game displays an hours played counter anywhere. I personally just timed myself after my first session when I realized that the save file didn't display a time counter because I figured I'd need to field this question at some point.

  • -1

@JWeinCom I would imagine that the only people that have 100% completed the game right now are either reviewers who got an early copy, or people that are unnaturally fast at completing games. The latter is bound to drive the average 100% completion time way down. A lot of the sidequests do introduce important story content. Granted that story content isn't absolutely essential to the main plot, but that's true of any story. There are plenty of sections of books and movies, that set the world, or set a character up, that could be removed entirely, without effecting the main plot.

  • +1
Hiku Cerebralbore101 (on 26 July 2020)

They've done so good with the UI in this game (being able to see when and where gear upgrades are available for example) that I won't complain about this minor thing missing. But that might mean I could be off by several dozen hours when I make my best estimate at the end of the game.

  • +1
Ryotsu (on 25 July 2020)

Facepalm

  • +1
xl-klaudkil (on 24 July 2020)

A absolute masterpiece of a game, this " revieuwer" prob didnt play many open world games,the game is pretty hard compared to others.
Deff does not deserve a 5 calling it " acceptabel "
But well opnions and all.

  • +1
MTZehvor xl-klaudkil (on 24 July 2020)

Hey! Your local friendly "reviewer" here.

I'm not...completely sure what my background with open world games has to do with how hard it is, but even still I'd say Ghost was pretty easy even when compared exclusively with recent open world titles. Games like Outer Worlds, MGSV, Breath of the Wild, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn personally all felt like they posed at least a reasonable challenge on their highest difficulties. I played through Ghost on hard mode, conversely, and very rarely died outside of the boss fights. In my opinion, at least, the player has too many resources at their disposal to consistently be threatened by enemies in a fight (large health pool, numerous ranged tools that stagger enemies immediately, projectiles that can kill instantly), and it's too easy to escape from enemies if you ever do find yourself overwhelmed by numbers.

You're free to disagree, of course, but I don't think it's unrealistic to view Ghost as pretty easy, even just compared to other open world titles.

  • 0
xl-klaudkil xl-klaudkil (on 25 July 2020)

Then maybe i just suck at games, yes you have tools at your disposal,but thats with every open world game.
Zelda botw was easy beyond words btw.

Point is all the faults you have with it,every open world game has it.
Ac oddesey had the same problems your bow being overpowered verry early on.
Stealth system not working.
Easy to flee.
Same goes with zelda.

It the end its all opinions but giving it a 5 is truly underserving.

Really dont understand whats so special about a game like botw compared to open world games that does a lot more a lot better.,yet never reaches the score of botw.

  • -7
MTZehvor xl-klaudkil (on 25 July 2020)

You're correct, many open world game give you a lot of tools to use, but I can't think of many where the tools are quite as overpowered as they are in this game. Poison dart is a one hit ko on any standard enemy, kunai staggers multiple enemies and basically guarantees a free kill until the very late game, smoke bomb does the same, etc.

I think BotW gets pretty easy in the late game, but initially I'd argue it's reasonably challenging, particularly on hero mode. Unlike Ghost, you can't take many hits, and at the beginning of the game you don't have many weapons or resources to heal yourself. There's also a multitude of enemies that can one hit KO Link, which are not present in Ghost.

Personally I would tend to agree with you that I think BotW gets overhyped a bit; I don't really view it as the 10/10, best game of all time candidate that many do. But for whatever nitpicks I can throw at it, it's an exceptionally polished game. Take the combat, for instance, which isn't super complex but it functions very well, and the presence of a lock on and wide attack animations mean you'll rarely wind up whiffing attacks or attacking the wrong enemy due to to no fault of the player (like is frequently the case in Ghost). Heck, even the very minimalistic stealth in BotW works better than it does in Ghost; at least enemies don't instantly forget you exist the second you duck under a plank of wood.

Doing fewer things well is better than doing many things ok-ish. Good sword combat and good stealth are two incredibly challenging mechanics to implement well, and Ghost tries to handle both at once. They're just too unpolished and too janky for me to view them as anything above decent, and the various problems with the AI and the camera certainly don't help.

  • -3
MTZehvor (on 24 July 2020)

This game's AI had some other funny moments that were worth a good laugh during my playthrough. This one was unrelated to the overall quality of the game and didn't impact the score, but I thought people might find it funny regardless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM5jCr0iaR4

  • +1
Somini (on 25 July 2020)

lol this website has no credibility when it comes to reviews. This one is just another example.

  • 0
mutantsushi (on 25 July 2020)

Good writing. The complaints are laughable "obviously you don't have experience in openworld, otherwise your expectations would be lower". Normally inexperience in something means you find it more difficult, not complain about it's easiness. An audience that is hostile to higher expectations really doesn't raise much hopes for the genre/industry, and if an at-length review can't be critical then I'm not sure what the point is. I think there's also weird dynamic in expectations of numeric ratings, which ends up compressing ratings into top band to the point any granularity is lost... what's the point of 1-10 range if practically no game will ever score at middle or below?

Fair to say there is questions how to calibrate "difficulty" when dying doesn't really matter (no permadeath), so single failures don't matter. Permadeath (or tougher consequences) really does invite a "learning mode" that teaches gameplay before committing to main plot & consequences (in this game, could have been playing different rando warriors eventually succombing to defeat in the plot's preceding battle... segueing into main character who manages to survive and plot proceeds from there). Permadeath is avoided because replaying plot content isn't especially interesting, but besides multiple branching options to make that more interesting, perhaps something to be said for design that allows easy "fastforwarding" (ideally, in cinematic way) of plot exposition on 2nd+ playthrus. Having more interesting metagame possibilities is also something to deepen game aside from specifics of combat & stealth. Sad to see games unable to deliver credible difficulty, even on "Hard", with AI flaws a big part of that but bigger game design issues also implicated.

  • -2
GoldenHand80 (on 25 July 2020)

This review is a joke

  • -3
Hiku GoldenHand80 (on 25 July 2020)

If you think so, you have to offer constructive criticism. Explain why.

  • +5
Ryotsu GoldenHand80 (on 25 July 2020)

True

  • +3
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 25 July 2020)

@Hiku this what i think of the review and no I do not have to explain why it's a flawed joke of a review.

  • -2
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Hiku GoldenHand80 (on 25 July 2020)

@GoldenHand80 There were a couple of points in the review I didn't agree with and some that I did. But there were also two that I didn't understand, or seemed to be incorrect. So I explained why I thought so regarding one of those points to the reviewer. I think that's how you should respond to someone that explained their reasoning. Not just tell them that their review is a joke. So what is it about the review that you don't agree with and why? Help people understand.

  • +6
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 26 July 2020)

@Hiku yeah that's good but is it gonna change anything? No it won't. They're not even gonna look into the comment section. So explaining why the review is a complete and utter joke is just a waste of time

  • +2
Hiku GoldenHand80 (on 26 July 2020)

@GoldenHand80 He does read the comments actually, and I've had several conversations with him here if you look. MTZehvor is his username.

  • 0
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 26 July 2020)

@ Hiku fair enough but when you read a review like this then on the same website there is an article saying that it's the Sony's fastest selling new ip and a user score of 9.3 then you really know that something isn't right. If the writer of this review thinks that he knows better than the millions who are having a blast with the game then I'm sorry his review is just not valid and he should ask himself why those millions are loving the game and he isn't

  • +2
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 27 July 2020)

@Hiku
Also time has proven that this is one-opinion system of reviews just doesn't work, no one knows the definition of a game expert of critic yet many people rely on the opinion of one person to decide if a game is good or bad. I think the best way is to make it compulsory for video games companies to provide demos and trials and people can just judge for themselves. Better than this broken critic review system.

  • +1
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 27 July 2020)

@Hiku
Also time has proven that this is one-opinion system of reviews just doesn't work, no one knows the definition of a game expert of critic yet many people rely on the opinion of one person to decide if a game is good or bad. I think the best way is to make it compulsory for video games companies to provide demos and trials and people can just judge for themselves. Better than this broken critic review system.

  • +1
MTZehvor GoldenHand80 (on 28 July 2020)

All right I do my best to stay out of comments unless they're asking a question but I feel the need to jump in here.

"If the writer of this review thinks that he knows better than the millions who are having a blast with the game then I'm sorry his review is just not valid and he should ask himself why those millions are loving the game and he isn't"

This is quite frankly an absurd argument. The quality of a game is not proportional to the number of units it sells; if it was, Madden, Fifa, and Call of Duty would be the undisputed best games of every year.

It's also silly to judge the validity of an opinion by how it compares to the game's popularity. If I say that I didn't enjoy the latest Madden because it felt derivative and uninspired, I sincerely doubt that you (or really anyone) would call my review invalid, despite millions more people playing it than those who bought Ghost. Doing so would be just as silly as saying that my opinion on not liking McDonalds food is invalid because millions of people enjoy McDonalds.

But more relevantly, a review is not, and will never be, me saying that my opinion is more valid than anyone else's. In fact, a review is just that; my opinion. It's what I personally believe about the quality of the game. Having a big fancy writer badge next to my username doesn't make me some inherent unchallengeable arbiter of a game's quality. When I write a review, I'm simply providing my opinion on what does and does not work within the game. It isn't me claiming that I am somehow above the rest of the game playing masses. In fact, if you're enjoying the game, then more power to you. I hope you have more fun with it than I did.

  • -2
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 29 July 2020)

"This is quite frankly an absurd argument. The quality of a game is not proportional to the number of units it sells; if it was, Madden, Fifa, and Call of Duty would be the undisputed best games of every year."

You see this statement right here makes no sense at all. If those games were as bad as some "critics" try to convince people then they would have gone to oblivion long time ago. But there are many reasons why those games are so popular. In fact, those game you mentioned, Call of Duty and Fifa, are excellent games in their categories and this is one of the reasons why they are selling millions and people are having a lot of fun with those games. Critics should critique their own opinions before anything else, something you didn't like is liked by many others, why? and should seriously consider popularity as a main factor in their reviews to analyse "what makes a game so popular when I think it is mediocre?"

"Doing so would be just as silly as saying that my opinion on not liking McDonalds food is invalid because millions of people enjoy McDonalds."

This is a bad example. The popularity of McDonald's is mainly because of its price-quality ratio, something that doesn't really apply to most games including Call of Duty, Fifa and Ghost of Tsushima.

"When I write a review, I'm simply providing my opinion on what does and does not work within the game"

What does work and doesn't work within a game is subjective.

" In fact, a review is just that; my opinion. It's what I personally believe about the quality of the game. "

Well isn't this what everyone is doing in the comments section and forums? Why your opinion should take a whole fancy web page and everyone's else opinion should be in a tiny comments section that only a small fraction of people look at anyway. It is nothing against you or any reviewer, it is against this whole system that is almost as broken as journal peer reviewed system.

  • +1
MTZehvor GoldenHand80 (on 29 July 2020)

"You see this statement right here makes no sense at all. If those games were as bad as some "critics" try to convince people then they would have gone to oblivion long time ago."

It's rarely critics that are the ones really harshly critiquing these titles. Non-reviewers are far more likely to throw heavy criticism at any one of these titles than reviewers. You need look no further than the metacritic reviewer vs. user scores for the latest Call of Duty, Madden, or Fifa games for that (the latter two have user scores below 1.6).

But this is dodging the point regardless. The point is that very few people would likely consider those games the best to release that year, even diehard fans of the genre. And yet, they're the ones that do sell or have sold really well consistently. Why? By marketing to mass appeal. If you can appear even palatable to a large group of people with similar interests, you can sell exceptionally well.

And this is the reason titles like CoD, Pokemon, etc. can sell ~10 million units on the regular without having to put much effort into innovating or improving themselves. As long as they remain passable, they can sell very well. This is why bringing up the "sales" argument is nonsensical; selling well is far more about how well you can market and position yourself to people with similar interests, and less about the quality of your product.

"and should seriously consider popularity as a main factor in their reviews to analyse "what makes a game so popular when I think it is mediocre?"

Not only am I usually writing these reviews before I know how many units the game sells (which would make this impossible), but my position is to tell you what I feel does and doesn't work about the game based on what I personally believe. I don't mind the idea of doing a more in-depth dissection of all the game's mechanics and why they bother some people and don't others, but I don't have the space for that in a review or the ability to adequately research that before the review deadline.

"This is a bad example. The popularity of McDonald's is mainly because of its price-quality ratio, something that doesn't really apply to most games including Call of Duty, Fifa and Ghost of Tsushima."

That's largely irrelevant. The point is that I don't like McDonalds, and don't feel it's worth even the prices they charge. Other people feel differently; clearly, quite a few people enjoy it, at least enough to purchase it for ~$5. Is my opinion somehow invalidated? Do I need to consider why other people like McDonalds before stating my opinion? No, of course not, because opinion is just personal preference.

"What does work and doesn't work within a game is subjective."

...yes...that's what I said I'm providing my opinion on it.

"Why your opinion should take a whole fancy web page and everyone's else opinion should be in a tiny comments section that only a small fraction of people look at anyway."

...for the same reason that columnists get entire sections on newspaper when the average reader doesn't, or food critics get articles in magazines while the average consumer doesn't. It's impossible to publish everyone's opinion, so websites, newspapers, magazines, etc. tend to ask someone who they feel has experience with similar games and can articulate their views clearly to write up an opinion, rather than trying to go to the impossible task of publishing everyone who's ever played the game.

  • -2
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 31 July 2020)

"It's rarely critics that are the ones really harshly critiquing these titles. Non-reviewers are far more likely to throw heavy criticism at any one of these titles than reviewers. You need look no further than the metacritic reviewer vs. user scores for the latest Call of Duty, Madden, or Fifa games for that (the latter two have user scores below 1.6)."

There is something called "loud minority" a small group of people that when they like or dislike something, they keep talking about it all over the internet which gives you the impression that this is the opinion of the majority. We all saw that in the case of The Last of Us part II game. Yes a polarising game but a good one, then you saw all of those people on youtube and social media talking about it non-stop that I personally thought this game won't even sell a single copy yet here we are.

If you just apply simple logical thinking you will realize that neither the critic nor the user review on metacritic are reliable measures. When you see a game like Call of Duty has a rating of 3.3 then you find out that the game sold over 10 million copies in the first three days of its release and it is the best selling CoD of all time, then you know something isn't right about those reviews. Those are excellent games "in their categories" so a game like Call of Duty is of exceptional quality, graphics, performance, controls and even the story is a very decent one, when you compare it to games from the same category, such as recent installments of Battlefield. This a massive success, creating a game that is enjoyed by a large number of people and also acheiving their business goals, at this point reviews are extremely irrelevant. However, when you look at another interesting case such as the "Anthem" case, did that game sell well? no it did not, why? because it is a broken mess and no one needed any "critic" opinion to realize that it is broken mess. That was reflected on its sales. People are not that naive, they know very well the difference between a good game and a bad one.

"The point is that very few people would likely consider those games the best to release that year, even diehard fans of the genre. And yet, they're the ones that do sell or have sold really well consistently. Why? By marketing to mass appeal. If you can appear even palatable to a large group of people with similar interests, you can sell exceptionally well."

I am sorry, this is an extremely flawed argument. The vast majority of people who play those games are not really bothered to go on the internet to tell everyone how good those games are, they just do not care. There are many diehard fans that just play those games or they are the games that they play the most. Do they need to tell everyone that they think that those are the best games? Servers are always full even after new installments of those games come out. Making a game appealing to a wide array of people is not an easy thing and those companies should be given credits for achieving such thing.

"And this is the reason titles like CoD, Pokemon, etc. can sell ~10 million units on the regular without having to put much effort into innovating or improving themselves. As long as they remain passable, they can sell very well. This is why bringing up the "sales" argument is nonsensical; selling well is far more about how well you can market and position yourself to people with similar interests, and less about the quality of your product."

In most cases, if it is not broken, do not fix it and there is certainly no need to reinvent the wheel especially in the case of those massively popular franchises. You are being unrealistic with your judgment on those games. Those games are constantly improved and new content is added on regular bases to those games, I am talking about the free to all content not microtransactions, which makes the experience always fresh for players. The developers of those game do put a lot of effort to improve the experience and content of their games. Regarding marketing, if a game is bad, it will not sell well no matter how much money they spend on marketing the game, Anthem again.

"Not only am I usually writing these reviews before I know how many units the game sells (which would make this impossible), but my position is to tell you what I feel does and doesn't work about the game based on what I personally believe. I don't mind the idea of doing a more in-depth dissection of all the game's mechanics and why they bother some people and don't others, but I don't have the space for that in a review or the ability to adequately research that before the review deadline"

Your review came out two days after the news that Ghost of Tsushima sold out in Japan, Amazon USA, Canada and UK. Also the news that it sold 2.5 million copies in the first 3 days of its release despite not getting much marketing such as that TLOU2 got. You also mentioned Metacritic user scores, your review came out days after the game received a staggering 9.3/10 user score on metacritic. Taken all together, what you feel about the game seems to be very opposite to what the general public feel about the game. When someone see your review then see those numbers and scores, the first question they are going to ask is how come the game is so popular when Paul thinks that it is an acceptable broken AI, easy combat 5/10 game. Quite frankly, very few people will take your opinion seriously at this stage. You may not care about that, which is absolutely fine, but that makes the whole review redundant and a waste of your time and the readers time. A deeper analysis of games and an even deeper analysis of what makes a game popular when you think it is a no more than 5/10 should serioulsy be taken into consideration. Game reviews should not be an opinion of one person, you dislike the game but 2.5 million love the game, why? that is the question that should be asked. It is very unreasonable to believe that a game is 5/10 when 1 out of let us say 13,000, that is the number of people who rated the game 9.3/10, thinks so.


"That's largely irrelevant. The point is that I don't like McDonalds, and don't feel it's worth even the prices they charge. Other people feel differently; clearly, quite a few people enjoy it, at least enough to purchase it for ~$5. Is my opinion somehow invalidated? Do I need to consider why other people like McDonalds before stating my opinion? No, of course not, because opinion is just personal preference."

You brought up this example and what I basically said is that it does not apply here. You do not like it that is fine but that certainly does not mean that you do not like because you know better than the multi-millions of people who like it. Which I will link to the last point that an opinion is just another opinion and no one's opinion should be treated differently than eveyone's else. That is especially true when an opinion goes completely against the general opinion of the public. If that is the case then the review should be questioned especially when everything you thought is negative, pretty much everyone else thinks is a positive.

  • +1
MTZehvor GoldenHand80 (on 31 July 2020)

"There is something called "loud minority" a small group of people that when they like or dislike something, they keep talking about it all over the internet which gives you the impression that this is the opinion of the majority. We all saw that in the case of The Last of Us part II game. Yes a polarising game but a good one, then you saw all of those people on youtube and social media talking about it non-stop that I personally thought this game won't even sell a single copy yet here we are. If you just apply simple logical thinking you will realize that neither the critic nor the user review on metacritic are reliable measures."

This is wholly unrelated to what we were talking about. You argued that critics were the ones supposedly trying to convince people that these games were really bad. My point is simply that, no, it's not the critics; it's by and large non-reviewers making up the majority of the negative reviews. Whether or not that population of non-reviewers makes up a majority is entirely irrelevant; the only pertinent point is that critics aren't the ones doing what you claimed they were.

"I am sorry, this is an extremely flawed argument. The vast majority of people who play those games are not really bothered to go on the internet to tell everyone how good those games are, they just do not care."

This is, again, a largely irrelevant and non-unique point. The same is true for any game; the vast majority of any game's playberbase is not likely to go online and advocate for it as GotY. That being said, it's often the games widely considered to be GotY that do have their fans that are online on forums and the likes praising it as such. If Pokemon, Call of Duty, etc. were widely praised as GotYs, you can be damn sure the portions of their fanbases that were online would be announcing it from the rooftops.

"In most cases, if it is not broken, do not fix it and there is certainly no need to reinvent the wheel especially in the case of those massively popular franchises. You are being unrealistic with your judgment on those games."

Ah, yes, how unrealistic and demanding it is for me to expect quality of life improvements and significant innovations for a product that I'm being charged $60 for.

"Your review came out two days after the news that Ghost of Tsushima sold out in Japan, Amazon USA, Canada and UK."

Two things here. First, being the best seller on Amazon doesn't mean a whole lot. Star Fox Zero was Amazon's best seller when it released, and we all know how that game ended up selling.

Second, though, and more relevantly, that's not how the editing and publishing process works. I don't write something up, submit it, and then have it immediately be posted online. It has to get looked over by editors, be copy-edited, have feedback incorporated, then queued for publication behind any other articles already submitted, and then be published online.

"Game reviews should not be an opinion of one person"

That is exactly what a game review is. That's literally what my job title is; to examine a game and provide my feedback on it. It is not to do guesswork on what the rest of the gaming industry thinks of a product. If you think reviews should be doing something else then feel free to take it up with the owners of the website...as well as every other gaming publication, movie reviewer, and book critic in existence.

"It is very unreasonable to believe that a game is 5/10 when 1 out of let us say 13,000, that is the number of people who rated the game 9.3/10, thinks so."

This is just silly. It's perfectly reasonable to not like a game that lots of other people do, and it's also reasonable to think a game is good that other people dislike.

"that certainly does not mean that you do not like because you know better than the multi-millions of people who like it."

...where are you even getting this? When have I ever said that my review is somehow a statement or declaration that my opinion is more valid than anyone else's?

The fact of the matter is that every single review, positive or negative, whether it agrees with the majority consensus or otherwise, is someone's opinion, and if you've played the game and you hold a different opinion, then you really shouldn't let other people's opinions get to you. They are just that, after all; other opinions. Reviews should be used to inform your own opinion about whether to buy games or not, and if things I described in my review that stuck out as problems to me don't bother you or you don't view them as issues, then this really shouldn't bother you.

  • -3
GoldenHand80 GoldenHand80 (on 01 August 2020)

"My point is simply that, no, it's not the critics; it's by and large non-reviewers making up the majority of the negative reviews."

I have already talked about that and I wrote very clearly "If you just apply simple logical thinking you will realize that neither the critic nor the user review on metacritic are reliable measures". The real measure is how a game is received by the public and the only way to know that is from sales figures. Many "critics" reviews are very questionable and the review-bombing by users whom there is no way to know if they actually played the game or not makes this whole review business completely broken and redundant system.

"The same is true for any game; the vast majority of any game's playberbase is not likely to go online and advocate for it as GotY"

That is incorrect, we do see this happening with many titles. TLOU2 is one good example, the number of articles from game critics defending the game and the 10/10 scores they gave the game is remarkable and down right laughable. Same thing from fans of the game they are literally everywhere defending the game in every online venue. The sales of this game do not even come close to the sales of the game

"If Pokemon, Call of Duty, etc. were widely praised as GotYs, you can be damn sure the portions of their fanbases that were online would be announcing it from the rooftops."

I am not really sure if you know how GOTY nominations are made and how the awards are given. Here is a quote from the game awards website "Nominees for most categories of The Game Awards are chosen by an international jury of over 80 global media and influencer outlets, selected for their history of critical evaluation of video games. The full list of outlets". Furthermore, they also mention how the winners are selected " Winners are determined by a blended vote between the voting jury (90%) and public fan voting (10%)". So fans have little to no say at all in what games are nominated and what games win and it all goes down to the game "critics" in the end which is exactly what I keep describing as a broken system.
https://thegameawards.com/faq

"Ah, yes, how unrealistic and demanding it is for me to expect quality of life improvements and significant innovations for a product that I'm being charged $60 for."

Logical thinking again, if your game makes over 1 billion dollars in its first month and continues to sell very well then it is safe to assume that it is well-received by the public and you succeeded in your task. At this point it is reasoable to believe that the game does not need any drastic changes. But having said that, the most recent installment of CoD MW, for example, was rebuilt from the ground up. The result is that it is one of the best looking and performing games available on any platform. The game includes a very decent story mode and the online mode makes its replayability unparalleled. Moreover, the game is constantly improved and new content is added all the time. I think it is worth the $60 in my opinion. I also think that you are being a little too harsh on it.

"First, being the best seller on Amazon doesn't mean a whole lot. Star Fox Zero was Amazon's best seller when it released, and we all know how that game ended up selling."

It was literally all over the news that the game sold a staggering 2.4 million copies in its first three days. Even on this website it was very evident that the game is a massive success to the point that the game sold out in many places around the world which led Sony to make an official announcement that people need to wait until they make new copies of the game. Looking at those numbers and articles then looking at the 5/10 score makes me really believe there is something wrong. I find it really hard to believe that 5/10 game would sell that well.

"that's not how the editing and publishing process works. I don't write something up, submit it, and then have it immediately be posted online. It has to get looked over by editors, be copy-edited, have feedback incorporated, then queued for publication behind any other articles already submitted, and then be published online."

If this is not an indication that this is a broken system then I do not know what is. That is especially true when you compare the score given to the game by yourself to how well the game is received by the public which quite frankly is the real measure of how good measure of how good a game is, not some scores based purely on opinions.

"That is exactly what a game review is. That's literally what my job title is; to examine a game and provide my feedback on it. It is not to do guesswork on what the rest of the gaming industry thinks of a product."

You have examined the game and given a feedback which turned out to be the complete opposite of the feedback the public has given. I am not being funny and I certainly mean no disrespect but this a real waste of everyone's time. What is the point of looking into the game, examining the game then giving your feedback in a lengthly article that took a lot of your time and in the end the majority of people who tried that product do not agree with you.

"This is just silly. It's perfectly reasonable to not like a game that lots of other people do, and it's also reasonable to think a game is good that other people dislike."

True, I agree, it is very reasonable. However, at this point it does not qualify to be called a "Review". A review should not be an opinion, but rather a more comprehansive analysis. Why the game is well-received when I and a small group of people think that it is 5/10. What does that overwhelming majority of people see in the game that we are not seeing?

"Reviews should be used to inform your own opinion about whether to buy games or not, and if things I described in my review that stuck out as problems to me don't bother you or you don't view them as issues, then this really shouldn't bother you."

Apparently they are not really informing anyone. Especially when a game is given 5/10 then, as a result, 2.5 million copies are sold in 3 days and the majority, if you believe metacritic, think that it is a 9.3/10. That is when you know that something really is not right about this whole game review business.

  • +2
CasePB (on 25 July 2020)

What a joke of a review. Pathetic.

  • -6
Mr Puggsly (on 25 July 2020)
  • -12
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