Before last week, Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch’s open-world samurai action game, was a single-player game. Following a free update, Ghost received a robust cooperative mode called Legends, which is really two modes—a two-player narrative-driven campaign and a four-player wave-based survival challenge. A third, a three-part raid called “the Tale of Iyo,” is coming next week.
If you’ve played through all nine campaign missions, you know that the story, thin as it is, drops off a cliff following the final mission. “The Tale of Iyo” will pick up where things left off and, Sucker Punch says, will tie up the plotline (a treat for the six people even following it). Unlike the other two modes, “The Tale of Iyo” won’t allow matchmaking, meaning you’ll need to make like a certain team of superheroes and convene your group of four beforehand. According to Sucker Punch’s recommendations, you’ll all want your Ki levels at or above 100 before even considering an attempt at the challenge.
Levels in Legends are broken down into two categories. You have a level for each class, which dictates the skills, perks, and cosmetic items you can unlock for each class. This is your rank. The only way to increase it is to earn experience points through playing. You’ll have up to four different ranks, depending on how many classes you’ve unlocked.
Ki levels are both more complex and more important. Like Power levels in Destiny 2 or Marvel’s Avengers, Ki is determined by the gear you have equipped, rather than the amount of experience you’ve earned. Each piece of gear has a Ki level attached to it; your Ki is an average of whatever you have on your person at any given moment, and it serves as a catch-all datapoint for how tough you are (or aren’t). Crucially, this figure also dictates your viability for tackling certain missions. Top-tier basic missions recommend a Ki level of 85. You can’t even play the weekly challenge missions unless you’re at 90 or higher. Getting your Ki to 100 in time for “the Tale of Iyo” might sound daunting, but it’s really quite doable, especially if you play your cards right. Here’s what to do.
Missions in Legends come in three standard difficulties, each of which reward gear at higher Ki levels. Bronze missions, the easiest, can reward you with stuff that tops out at 35. Middle-tiered silver missions might offer gear with levels as high as 80, while gold missions, the toughest of the bunch, go all the way up to 105.
Legends reaches a highwater mark by the time you’re ready to tackle gold missions. You think you can handle the challenge. Then you try “Severed Hearts,” the first story mission, on gold, realize that enemies can’t be assassinated in one hit, learn the hard way that shielded bruisers can absorb a gazillion sword hits, seemingly step in fire all the time, and get your ass handed to you six times over. It’s natural to want to go back to the cozy embrace of silver missions, where archers die with one sneaky stab and only half of the battlefield is inexplicably on fire. But if you stay where things are comfortable, you’ll never get any stronger.
Think of it like weight training. The only way you’ll be able to lift more weight is… if you lift more weight. Apply that same principle to Legends, and you’ll soon earn enough gear to assassinate pesky archers again.
Even if you’re wiped, you’ll still reap some rewards. On campaign missions, you’ll earn a chest with every chapter you complete (there are three), plus some extra rewards for beating the whole thing. If you just beat the first chapter and die two seconds into the second, you’ll just get one piece of gear—but that’s not a sunk cost. If you’re playing on gold, the gear you earn will likely be at a higher Ki level than the stuff you currently have. That, in turn, will increase your Ki, which will increase your chances at successfully completing missions, which will increase your chances at getting stronger gear, which will… you get the point.
Survival missions are a different proposition. You unlock another chest every five waves. You also earn one just for successfully starting the fight. When you first wade into gold survival gauntlets, don’t try to win. Focus instead on baby steps: making it through the next five rounds in front of you. When your Ki is in the low 80s, you’ll probably die often on that difficulty tier. When the HP sponges of later rounds show up, your attacks will pretty much be useless. But making it at least five waves in guarantees you’ll get two new pieces of higher-level gear, which will make you more helpful—or at least less useless—during your next bout.
Starting missions with failure in mind might upset some teammates. So, when you’re playing on gold, follow the golden rule, and pay it forward. Swallow your pride and run away from fights when you’re about to die. (Just one person’s death means a failed mission.) Revive allies when you can. (The Ronin class helps immensely with that.) And try to at least pretend to consider making an effort to not hit healing drums when you’re the only one near them. That’s just rude.
During both campaign and survival missions, you’ll be presented with various optional tasks. In survival gauntlets, they’re a mixed bag. Maybe you have to kill 25 enemies with ranged attacks in two minutes, or set 10 Mongols aflame in one. Since you’re rewarded with in-game currency and other goodies, you should try to do them, but not if it means putting an otherwise successful mission at risk.
The campaign objectives, on the other hand, are imperative. For instance, during every story mission, you’ll come across an objective that has you seek out an Oni treasure. (Pro tip: Just go into listening mode by pressing down the touchpad. It’ll show right up.) Activating it will summon four challenging enemies. Defeating them will mark the objective as complete—and reward you with an extra piece of (higher Ki) gear for your efforts.
As a bonus, if you complete 10 of these challenges with a certain class, you’ll get a new cosmetic item. Knock out 20 across all of your classes, and you’ll unlock an emote.
After a few hours of playing, you’ll have more Shrines, Honor, and Essence—the three in-game currencies in Legends—than you’ll know what to do with. It’s like that old capitalist saying goes: “Money saved isn’t money spent” (or something). So spend away. Use your money to level up any old gear that’s holding you back.
Let’s do some math. If you have a Hunter with a level-90 water katana, a level-90 longbow, a level-90 ranged charm, a level-90 sticky bomb, and a level-60 healing gourd, your Ki level will be stuck at 84—too low to access even the weekly challenge missions. But you love this healing gourd and haven’t found a new one to take its place. By spending a small fortune of the three currencies, you can reforge the weapon entirely, which will bring its Ki level in line with the rest of your gear. (You can see what range the Ki will end up in by looking at the pop-up list on the right side of the screen.)
On the flip side, the reforging process will switch up some aspects that made that piece so great. You might, for instance, find that you no longer receive a significant health boost when you pick up arrows from the various ammunition caches strewn around a survival map. The good news is that, for a nominal fee, you can reroll individual aspects until you get a desired outcome. (Again, just look at the right side of the screen for the possible outcomes.)
There’s, of course, a caveat to this. Once you hit high Ki levels—we’re talking 100 or so—you kind of hit a wall. Beyond the possible Ki-110 stuff you can get from challenge missions, the only way to really tweak your character is to reroll the aspects of your gear. You’d be well-served to keep at least some Shrines and whatnot in store. But who knows how “The Tale of Iyo” might shake things up. Best to be prepared.