Ghostwire Tokyo - Finally On Xbox
It has been an odd road for Ghostwire Tokyo. Much like the excellent Deathloop, Ghostwire was announced as a PS5 timed console exclusive in the months preceding Xbox purchasing Bethesda. This led to the odd case (especially at the time) of a Microsoft Games Studio game being released on the Playstation, something that had only happened previously with Minecraft. It also led to me missing the game entirely. How? Well, our review copy went to Tim Henderson (and you can read his words here:) and at the time I was busy with other games on my plate. Fast forward to the present day and despite the game being on sale many times (especially on PC) I haven’t picked it up, despite being quite keen on the setting. Why? Well, that is obvious, we all knew that after the exclusive period, it was coming to Gamepass and why spend money when you don’t have to right?
So here we are, 12 months on, sitting on the eve of Ghostwire’s Xbox release. I did grab an early access code this time (cheers Bethesda ANZ) and have been playing it over the past week. I haven’t finished the game as yet, though I fully intend to, but I do have some thoughts to share about this slightly odd game that seemingly came and went without making too much of a splash.
The first is that this seems like the ideal Gamepass game. An odd title that does things a bit differently from most games, it would be easy to see why it was a hard sell, especially at $100. Put it on Gamepass however and it suddenly becomes a curiosity that entices new players in with that very same odd feeling. The barrier for entry has been lowered and the gates are open for a raft of players, just like myself, who were keen to check it out but were hesitant to slap a big chunk of hard-earned down on it.
The other reason I feel like this is a good fit for Gamepass is that it is the sort of game that I imagine reviews badly because you do a lot of the same things many, many times, creating a sense of monotony as reviewers are forced to repeat the same actions over and over again in a short period of time. This goes away when there are no time pressures when playing the game. Ghostwire Tokyo, to me at least, feels like the perfect game to pick up and play in small chunks over a long period of time. In fact, I think it will follow in the footsteps of games like Mafia 3 and be remembered much more fondly than reviews would usually indicate because of this. Some games just aren’t built to be played to completion in a week and players’ opinions nosedive if they are. Given space, this sort of game can really find a crowd and I feel like that is what is going to happen here.
What is interesting is the improvements made to the game since its release. I can’t say first hand but it seems to me the technical issues that Tim mentioned in his review regarding the performance mode are largely gone. I found the game running well in both Performance and Quality modes without any hiccups at all. Performance mode is probably the way to go as 60fps is more important than fancy ray tracing. I was lucky enough to check the game out briefly a little while ago on a high-end PC with it running at 120fps with ray tracing and that was glorious, but sadly consoles aren’t up to that. It does mean that I will probably end up finishing the game on PC when it hits Gamepass as my rig should be able to do the game justice.
Perhaps what excites me most about finally playing this game through is the excellent sense of mood it creates. That is no surprise considering it comes from the mind of Shinji Mikami, the lead force on Resident Evil and later The Evil Within, two franchises that use mood exceptionally well. I can feel that pedigree here because while there is no arguing that elements of the game can get repetitive, I doubt very much that I will get sick of the creepy, haunted vision of Tokyo that the game presents. The juxtaposition that having one of the busiest cities in the world empty is mood-setting on its own, but throw into that the Japanese mythology, amazing creature design and seriously impressive weather effects and it is honestly a masterclass in setting a tone through world-building. I am very keen to see how it all plays out as a result.
All of this, along with all the past DLC and some new content all land on Xbox as you read this and frankly, if you have Gamepass, I can’t think of a good reason to not try it out. It is hardly a genre-defining piece of art, but it does do some things exceptionally well, while never dipping below a competent level in other areas. PS5 owners should probably jump back in too because all of the quality-of-life updates are all coming via a free patch to you too. Ghostwire Tokyo is a game that I am glad exists, it does things differently from most and while it doesn’t nail everything, this sort of game-making should be encouraged. I just hope it finds a long life now that it is on Gamepass, because it is the type of experience that feels like it needs a sequel to fully flesh it out and reach its full potential.