Ghost of Tsushima almost has it all. It’s freakin’ beautiful. The quests and characters are endlessly entertaining. The combat’s a blast—a deft blend of skill mastery and power fantasy. You can even pet foxes (aww). But there’s one big quality-of-life feature missing from this action-packed, samurai-themed masterpiece: loadouts.
When playing Ghost of Tsushima, you’ll find yourself showered in gear. It’s not as superfluous as in a loot-based game, like Destiny or Diablo, but between the 11 sets of armor (most of which can be upgraded thrice, for deeper customization) and the near-endless compendium of charms (equippable accessories that grant you small bonuses), it’s a lot to keep in your head. And, thanks to the way the inventory works, keeping it in your head is exactly what you’re forced to do.
Every piece of gear, from the most minor charm to the most souped-up set of armor, offers notable benefits. Plus, Ghost of Tsushima operates roughly as fast as a PS6 game. Whereas some big-budget games grind to a halt when you try to open up the menu, Ghost of Tsushima’s opens up at light speed. There are really no consequences for, in any given moment, pausing and switching up your gear. And you’re not gated off by gameplay, either. You can open up the menu in the split-second before you’re smacked with a katana, throw on something that increases your health, and more or less absorb the hit. Perhaps by design, the game frequently tempts you to switch up your gear on the fly.
Let’s say you’re staking a Mongol outpost from a distance. You want to whittle the crowd down from afar, so you put on Tadayori’s Armor, a double-breasted leather jacket that seriously improves both your archery skills and your chances of getting stopped outside a Soho bar for a brisk street-style shoot. You might also want the Charm of Izanagi (which has a 40 percent chance of returning an arrow to your quiver after every headshot) and two Charms of Precision (each of which grants a moderate increase to arrow damage), plus maybe a Charm of Efficiency (a 15-percent boost to reload speed) or two. This combination of equipment can easily help you take out half a dozen foes before they come within arms reach.
But then you get spotted, and the Mongols swarm your position. Quickly switching to a set of armor designed for open combat—say, Gosaku’s Armor or the Sakai Clan Armor—is no big deal. Those archery-focused charms won’t help you a bit, though. You’d be better off with a set of charms that increase your health, your melee damage, your stagger damage, and the window of opportunity in which you can perform a perfect parry or dodge.
Or maybe you want to turn tail, hide in some pampas grass, and wait until you’re undetected, giving you the chance to silently assassinate the remainder. In this case you’d want something that makes it more difficult for enemies to spot you. The Ronin Attire—or, if you’ve liberated Castle Shimura, the Ghost Armor—would do the trick. You’d also probably want to equip three Charms of Shadows, reducing enemy detection speed by a further 30 percent. The Charm of Hidden Sight, which makes enemies give up hunting for you sooner, couldn’t hurt either.
At the moment, there are only three ways to keep track of all this stuff:
- Memorizing it.
- Writing it down.
- Methodically scrolling through your list of charms (completing all of the side-quests and shrines will give you more than 75) every time you want to shake things up, then trying to remember which charm you paired with which outfit.
So when you want to switch tactics, you’re forced into a moderately cumbersome game of menu-scrolling. Compared to Ghost’s otherwise breakneck pace, it can take you out of the swing of things—even if only for a minute.
Or, just spitballing here: How cool would it be if the game let us save five or so preferred loadouts that you could swap between at the press of a (very-fast-loading) menu button? Answer: Extremely cool. This is one game that could benefit from a suite of customizable loadouts.
Most importantly—or least importantly, if your priorities are misplaced—loadouts would help big time when it comes to playing fashionista of Tsushima. For instance, I have 43 hats and headbands and 29 armor colorways. Someone better at math than me will need to tell me the exact number of potential outfits that makes, but my calculations resulted in “almost as overwhelming and expansive as your real-life wardrobe, Ari,” which doesn’t seem like a real number. All I know is that the red-and-gold Headband of the Invasion looks fantastic with the Traveler’s Attire (bonus style points for pairing the white-and-red Graceful Pathfinder dye) but clashes with pretty much everything else.
Is Ghost of Tsushima held back from greatness because it doesn’t have loadouts? Not at all. But it would sure be nice.