Over the past few days, I have been going in-depth in the history and setting behind Sucker Punch’s upcoming open-world game Ghost of Tsushima. Part 1 of my analysis looked at the Mongol invasions of Japan that surround the events of the game, and Part 2 will take a look at the setting focused on the island of Tsushima itself. So you can consider this Part 1.5.
One of the interesting aspects of an open-world game is the size of its map. If you have played inFamous: Second Son, which is Sucker Punch’s latest full-fledged open world game (alongside its spin-off First Light), the map may have felt large because it was a quite dense urban environment, but it really wasn’t one of the biggest open worlds out there. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even close.
Sucker Punch never officially mentioned (at least to my knowledge) the precise size of the map of the game, but we can still obtain a rough measurement. First of all, we rebuilt the map in a handy image format, since the game never shows the full thing.
Now that we have our map, we can set out to measure it. To do that, we have to fish deep into the content of an old (but extremely interesting) panel hosted by Lead Engine Programmer Adrian Bentley at GDC 2014. There we learned that when using his neon powers, Delsin could move at a speed of 20 meters per second. Any faster and the engine wouldn’t have been able to stream the assets of the world fast enough.
At this point, it’s simply a matter of timing a straight line run of one of the map’s street, a couple of equations, and we come up with a rough result: the map you see above measures approximately 2,246 meters by 2,188 meters. That’s 3.73 square kilometers or 1.44 square miles. Yes. I know, it was pretty small.
By comparison, Skyrim‘s map measures 14.3 square miles. This is an interesting look at the fact that a dense urban map can feel bigger than it is, as opposed to a map made mostly of wilderness.
Now, let’s compare that with real-life Seattle, which is much, much bigger.
The map above below measures about 18 km by 25 km. According to Wikipedia, Seattle covers an area of 142.5 square miles (369.2 square kilometers). Yep. That’s 100 times bigger than the map in the game. Of course, that kind of size would have probably been really impractical for the game, and populating it with models and content would have taken a much longer time without using procedural tricks.
Now, let’s take a look at the island of Tsushima. From the info we’ve been given, it appears that the game is entirely set on the island itself.
Since it’s an island you may think it’s fairly compact, and you would be wrong. Tsushima is a big chunk of land. As a matter of fact, if you exclude the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido), Tsushima is the fourth largest in the country. Here is a handy map.
The map displayed above measures roughly 30 km by 70 km, and according to Wikipedia, the whole island covers an area of 273.6 square miles or 708.7 square kilometers. It can pretty much fit two cities the size of Seattle, and that’s just counting the area covered by land. Considering the irregular nature of the island, it feels even bigger in comparison.
Let us compare the three maps.
As you can see Tsushima has the potential to be a really big game world if you compare it with Seattle. Can you see the map of inFAMOUS: Second Son in there? I had to put a big red arrow to help you.
For inFAMOUS: Second Son Sucker Punch aimed to create a city that felt like Seattle, without creating a 1:1 reproduction. This was done for simple practical reasons in terms of development time and resources, and also to keep gameplay focused. It was pretty much a city-shaped superhero playground, and scaling the city down considerably, alongside altering the geography made perfect sense.
The question is, what will they do for Ghost of Tsushima?
Developers don’t always apply the same solution to different games, and while we’re still in the PS4 generation, technology has evolved considerably since 2014. Open worlds are getting bigger and bigger, and the recent example of Assassin’s Creed Origins shows what a team with a good engine and enough resources can do (even if there have been bigger examples, like Just Cause 3).
A 1:1 reproduction of the real map of Tsushima would probably be doable, but this doesn’t mean that Sucker Punch will go for it. As you’ll see in Part 2 of my feature, the island is a natural paradise the vast majority of which is covered by mountains and forests. This means that populating it with content is probably easier and quicker than a dense urban environment like Seattle. Yet, we still can’t answer the question of whether it would make sense gameplay-wise or not.
It takes hours to cross the map of Assassin’s Creed Origins on foot. Even considering the fact that we’ll most probably have access to horses and fast travel, it depends entirely on Sucker Punch designers to determine whether they want us to spend a long time riding around instead of fighting Mongols. While recent trends demand larger and larger maps, there is no single right answer, so this remains an unknown.
Sucker Punch has been rather clear in mentioning that the game is the biggest they have ever made, and it has been in the oven for quite a while now. Considering the real-world size of Tsushima, there is certainly the potential for an enormous map, especially considering to the tiny one featured in inFAMOUS: Second Son. What remains to be seen is whether it’ll be scaled down and by how much.
The developer also shared that the environments shown in the teaser trailer of the game were in-game, and one rather wide shot shows a very extensive vista. This appears to indicate that they haven’t scaled the world down all that much. Assuming that the mountain in the picture is the highest peak on the island (Mount Yatate) seen across Aso Bay, we could be looking at 1:5 to 1:10 scale, but that’s just me trying to eyeball it, so take it with a massive grain of salt.
Ultimately, it’s safe to assume that we can expect a lot of densely forested areas, super-scenic vistas from the top of untamed mountains, and a large chunk of ground to cover. Personally, I can’t wait.
Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t yet have a release window, but it will come exclusively for PS4. If you want to learn more, you can enjoy some data recently provided by the developers, the first trailer, and some lovely art.