Sucker Punch Productions’ Ghost of Tsushima launched last week and despite criticism, it’s garnered an overall positive reception. It’s had a strong start in the UK with launch sales being four times higher than Paper Mario: The Origami King and 7 percent higher compared to Days Gone. While the jury is still out on its overall financial success, this could be the start of another multi-million dollar franchise for Sony, one that could be leveraged for the PS5 down the line.
But what could a sequel look like? To answer that question, we first need to discuss the current game’s ending. Major spoilers abound so if you haven’t finished the story yet, back out now. You have been warned.
After freeing his uncle, Lord Shimura, the various dishonorable tactics employed by Jin start catching up with him. During the assault on the Mongols at Castle Shimura, the samurai army suffers great losses. To minimize this, Jin decides to poison the invaders and while this works, Khotun Khan escapes to Port Izumi in the North. Jin is implicated for the use of poison and upon refusing to have Yuna act as a scapegoat, he’s arrested and seemingly set to be executed by order of the Shogun. Fortunately, he escapes and pursues Khan to his flagship for one last battle.
The samurai beat back the Mongol invasion but unfortunately, the Shogun’s order to execute Jin still stands. Lord Shimura thus battles Jin to the death and if the latter wins, he can either choose to spare his uncle or kill him. Whichever choice the player goes with, the Ghost is essentially a fugitive and seen as a danger for Tsushima.
A couple of things to note: The game is based on the real-life first invasion of Tsushima by the Mongols. Rather than one man igniting a resistance against the invaders, a storm resulted in the loss of 200 ships in the Yuan fleet with 13,500 soldiers dying. It served as a major turning point in the conflict, especially since the Japanese were prepared to make their last stand in Hakata. Also, it was Kublai Khan that planned the attack on Tsushima and, following the first invasion’s failure, was preparing for a second invasion to take place. The shogunate took to strengthening defenses in Hakata in the meantime. Khan would send emissaries to Japan in 1275 and 1279 – they were beheaded in both instances as a response to the Mongols.
Thus in 1281, the Mongol general Arakhan led a fleet of 4400 ships with 142,000 soldiers to attack Tsushima again (with Fan Wenhu leading the Southern Route fleet). This time, the Japanese were ready with thousands facing off against the Mongols. Locations like Nagato and Hakata became the sight of major battles while the Mongols occupied Shiga and Noko. Following a stalemate between the two armies at Hakata, a typhoon would drive back the invaders. It was nicknamed “kamikaze” and any surviving forces were either executed or turned into slaves.
There are two possibilities for how Ghost of Tsushima 2 could play out. Keep in mind that because Jin was born and brought up in Tsushima, he could still very well be considered it’s “Ghost”, even if the sequel changes locations.
First, it’s possible that Jin plays a role in driving back the Mongols from Nagato. He would then venture to Shiga and Noko to conduct campaigns against the Mongols, which could intersect with the Japanese raids against them. The final battle in Hakata is all the more interesting – remember the marketing for the current game which talked about a “storm” that was coming? It was a storm that routed the Mongols in 1274 and another storm (of sorts) that resulted in their defeat at Hakata in 1281. Coincidence?
Essentially, Jin is that storm and could take on the title of “kamikaze” upon helping to win the battle at Hakata. With a major antagonist in the form of supreme commander Arakhan, there’s someone that Jin could go up against and whose death would result in the fleet being weakened.
We wouldn’t be surprised if the sequel starts with Shogun having spread a false narrative about a storm causing the Mongols to be defeated in Tsushima to play down the Ghost’s heroics. Heck, it could even feed into the Shogun’s disdain for Jin that he proclaims the “kamikaze” that defeated the second Mongol invasion to have been nothing more than a typhoon.
The second possibility – and this is a long shot – is a new protagonist being introduced. Kawano Michiari, a warrior whose uncle is slain during the raid against the Mongols in the second invasion and who, despite being injured, takes down a large warrior. Though Michiari is seen as a hero in history, it wouldn’t be all that difficult for the game to slightly rewrite events. Perhaps having Michiari being saved by a certain Ghost, questioning the tactics being used while also resisting the temptation to do the same in order to fight back against the Mongols.
Heck, you could have the story’s first Act being from Michiari’s perspective, the second Act from Jin’s perspective and the third alternating between the two. This would help introduce new abilities, tactics and different set pieces (like raids). You could even have the ultimate battle between Michiari and Jin where the player must choose who they side with – the earnest samurai who’s trying to serve the Shogun’s wishes or the Ghost who saved Tsushima and helped fight off the invaders a second time.
This approach also facilitates flashbacks pretty well. We could learn more about Michiari’s past and upbringing much like we did Jin’s in the first game. Meanwhile, Jin’s flashbacks could help shed light on what he’s been up to in the eight years since the last invasion. Maybe he’s gotten more bitter in that time due to being hunted by the Shogun’s forces. It would serve as an interesting new internal conflict as Jin remains loyal to his country and samurai heritage while effectively feeling betrayed by those he helped save.
Ghost of Tsushima’s story extensively rewrites real-world events, to the point where even if you could spot similarities, they’re different enough to feel “inspired”. It wouldn’t be all that strange for the second major conflict between the Japanese and Mongol forces to serve as “inspiration” for Jin to embark on another campaign of stealth and combat across several new islands. However, something tells us that Sucker Punch won’t just go with the typical sequel approach.
After all, this is a developer that’s known for experimenting with different playable characters and perspectives, whether it’s the Sly Cooper series or inFamous Second Son. It feels like an opportunity that’s too good to pass up, especially given the heroes and figures that emerge in the second Mongol invasion of Tsushima.
Regardless of the direction it takes, Ghost of Tsushima 2 is definitely a long ways off so there’s plenty of time to speculate on where it could go next. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to any potential upgrades the current game will receive. Having an excellent open world action title with stellar production values and story-telling, that too months before the mad rush of the Fall/Holiday release window, is pretty nice.