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Ghost of Tsushima is a great PC port with one big problem

Jin riding through a field of flowers.
PlayStation Studios

After nearly four years, Ghost of Tsushima is finally available on PC. The new release includes the base game, the Legends mode, and the Iki Island expansion, as well as a suite of the latest technologies from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. From a performance perspective, Ghost of Tsushima runs well and looks beautiful, but it has one big problem.

Sony’s recent push to PC has locked players in over 170 countries out from experiencing Ghost of Tsushima, despite initially offering the game in those locations for preorder. That shouldn’t distract from the excellent PC port Ghost of Tsushima is, however.

Best settings for Ghost of Tsushima on PC

Jin playing a flute in Ghost of Tsushima.
PlayStation Studios

Ghost of Tsushima has a relatively condensed graphics menu, but each of the settings are powerful enough to affect your performance and/or image quality. After some testing, here are the best settings for Ghost of Tsushima: 

  • Motion Blur Strength: 0
  • Field of View: 5
  • Texture Quality: Medium
  • Texture Filtering: 4x Anisotropic
  • Shadow Quality: Medium
  • Level of Detail: High
  • Terrain Detail: Low
  • Volumetric Fog: Medium
  • Depth of Field: High
  • Screen Space Reflections: Low
  • Screen Space Shadows: High
  • Ambient Occlusion: SSAO Performance
  • Bloom: On
  • Vignette: On
  • Water Caustics: On
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These settings resulted in about a 25% to 30% increase in my average frame rate in the open world, and without a significant hit to image quality. You can see in the video below how close the recommended settings are to the Very High preset. It’s close, with only minor differences in the shadows and reflections to draw attention to.

Ghost of Tsushima PC Settings Comparison

I would encourage you to mess with the settings yourself, however. Ghost of Tsushima renders the game behind the graphics menu, allowing you to see how your changes impact the image quality in real time. In addition, there are useful tooltips for each of the options that note how the setting stresses the different components in your system. Other developers could learn from Sucker Punch here on how to design a PC graphics menu.

There are a couple of settings to pay attention to. The one that affects image quality the most is Level of Detail. Ghost of Tsushima features a vast world with a lot of open vistas, and the Level of Detail setting greatly reduces the draw distance of objects. That’s why I stuck with the High setting here, as the quality drops off significantly below that point.

On the other hand, there are some settings that aren’t worth pushing higher. Texture Quality, for example, shows a major difference between Low and Medium. Above Medium, however, there are only miniscule differences, and it’s not worth pushing the setting higher unless you have plenty of performance headroom to spare. Shadow Quality is in a similar situation. The shadows are sharper above Medium, but not by much.

Regardless of your settings, Ghost of Tsushima’s performance is stable. In linear sections, the open world, and even the co-op Legends mode, I only saw minor deviations in frame rate. This port is on the level of Helldivers 2 in its consistency. It can tax older systems at higher settings and resolutions, but it won’t devolve into a stuttering mess like Dragon’s Dogma 2

Ghost of Tsushima PC system requirements

System requirements for Ghost of Tsushima on PC.
Sony

Originally being a title on the PS4, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Ghost of Tsushima system requirements aren’t too demanding. You can see the breakdown in the chart above. For minimum settings, you can scape by with a GTX 960 or RX 5500 XT, as well as a low-end CPU that’s nearly a decade old.

For most people, however, you’re looking at least Nvidia’s RTX 20-series or AMD’s RX 5000 series to play the game at 1080p. This is really the floor for most PC gamers in 2024, so it’s nice to see that the vast majority of players will be able to run the game at 1080p with a high frame rate and few issues.

This game can stress your hardware, however. At the high end, you’re looking at an RTX 4080 or RX 7900 XT to play the game at 4K. Testing with an RTX 4090 and Ryzen 7 7800X3D, I was seeing around 70 frames per second (fps) at native 4K in the open world. That’s still excellent performance for how beautiful the game looks.

Do you need PSN for Ghost of Tsushima on PC?

The PlayStation overlay inside Ghost of Tsushima.
PlayStation Studios

This one is tricky. You don’t need a PlayStation Network (PSN) account to play Ghost of Tsushima on PC, but you’ll probably want one. You can play the single-player story without a PSN account, but you’ll need to sign into PSN if you want to play the co-op Legends mode or access the new PlayStation overlay.

Given what we saw with Helldivers 2 recently, there’s a high likelihood that Sony will require a PSN account for its PC ports moving forward. Signing into or creating a PSN account is annoying, but the bigger problem is availability.

Ghost of Tsushima was delisted in over 170 countries shortly before launching, even in regions where players had preordered the game. Steam issued refunds, but Sony delisted the game due to a lack of PSN availability in countries it was previously selling PC releases in.

This is the biggest issue with Ghost of Tsushima on PC. Despite not requiring a PSN account to play the base game, a large swath of the world can’t access the game even if they played previous Sony PC releases.

Can you play Ghost of Tsushima on the Steam Deck?

Ghost of Tsushima running on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Ghost of Tsushima is technically unsupported on the Steam Deck right now, at least according to Valve’s Deck Verified program. Despite that, the developer says it’s working to optimize the game for Valve’s handheld, and after installing and playing the game for a bit, I’m shocked it hasn’t earned a Verified badge.

With the Low preset and XeSS or FSR set to dynamically adjust the resolution, I was getting a consistent 45 fps, and with pretty solid image quality. There are certainly games that run far worse on the Steam Deck that have received a Verified badge, such as Lords of the Fallen and even The Last of Us Part I. 

The only issue right now is that you can’t use frame generation. FSR 3 should, in theory, work on the Steam Deck, which would help the game reach a consistent 60 frames per second (fps) on the handheld. For now, however, FSR 3 is blocked off in the settings, so you’ll have to settle for upscaling.

DLSS 3, FSR 3, and XeSS in Ghost of Tsushima

Jin running across a bridge in Ghost of Tsushima.
PlayStation Studios

Outside of the graphics settings, the other thing that stands out about Ghost of Tsushima is its broad support for performance-boosting tech. You have access to Nvidia’s DLSS 3, AMD’s FSR 3, and Intel’s XeSS. The upscaling and frame generation components are separated out, and you’re free to mix them. You can use FSR 3’s frame generation while using DLSS or XeSS upscaling, for example.

Out of the three, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that DLSS 3 reigns supreme for both upscaling and frame generation. FSR 3 is definitely close on the frame generation front, at least. It’s great to see FSR 3 hold up in a new PC release, which AMD has done a relatively poor job of up to this point.

Ghost of Tsushima PC Upscaling

For the upscaling component, the differences are more nuanced, which you can see in the video above of all three tools running in their Performance mode at 4K (1080p internal resolution). Off the bat, FSR immediately looks the worst. We haven’t seen AMD’s highly anticipated FSR 3.1 update yet, which promises much better quality and stability. The latter point is what hurts FSR in Ghost of Tsushima. You can see a little bit of flickering in the grass close to the camera, which only becomes more pronounced farther away.

XeSS is in a different situation. It’s more stable up close, but it struggles to reconstruct distant fine details. You can see flickering and a drop in detail on the distant trees, which FSR and DLSS retain well. There’s also a loss of detail on the distant grassy patches, with the tops washing out in a lighter green color.

DLSS looks the best and serves as the benchmark here. There’s a slight loss of detail on the distant trees compared to native resolution, but you really have to squint to spot any signficant differences.

Anti-aliasing in Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima PC Anti Aliasing

In addition to upscaling, Ghost of Tsushima includes the anti-aliasing of DLSS, FSR, and XeSS. If you’re unfamiliar, these upscaling tools are essentially sophisticated anti-aliasing algorithms, and in Ghost of Tsushima, you can run those algorithms at native resolution for improved image quality.

You can see how they stack up to the typical Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TAA) that the game uses in the video above. TAA shows a lot of shimmering on the distant trees, while DLSS, FSR, and XeSS clean up those details. FSR’s Native AA mode looks the most immediately impressive because of its aggressive sharpening, but the devil’s in the details here.

If you look at the white grass in the background, you can see that FSR struggles to separate the details as it blows in the wind. DLSS doesn’t look as sharp, but it maintains these fine details better. Finally, XeSS looks the worst, but it’s still better than TAA. It mainly works as a way to fix the issues with TAA rather than vastly improve the image quality.

One stumble for a great port

Jin battling enemies in Ghost of Tsushima.
PlayStation Studios

Ghost of Tsushima is an excellent PC port with one major issue. You don’t need a PSN account to play the base game, but despite that, the game isn’t available in several countries where PSN isn’t available. We’ve seen more than a dozen PC ports from Sony over the past two years that didn’t require PSN. There’s no reason games should require it now.

That shouldn’t overshadow how excellent this port is, however. It runs extremely well on a wide variety of hardware, it includes the latest and great PC technology, and it even holds up well on the Steam Deck. Pepper in a useful graphics menu and a photo mode that you can easily get lost in, and Ghost of Tsushima is all thumbs up.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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