Finished the main story yesterday after finally getting to play this (I had been waiting until I got a Ps5 to play at 60fps and with Japanese lip sync).
While I overall enjoyed my time with it, I have to say I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the game. I love the setting, the visuals are often quite nice, the main story is enjoyable and the combat is simple yet fun. But a very Ubisoft-like open world design, lack of challenge and terrible side content really hold it back.
Even though the textures and animations aren't the best out there, the often nice lighting, wind and leaves flying around do a lot to turn this into one of the nicest looking open world games out there
They could have done so much more with an open world, while the same old Ubisoft design (and it’s VERY Ubisoft like) is a bit boring after games like Elden Ring earlier this year, it’s what they’ve filled it with which I found mostly bad . Almost every side quest is extremely basic and plays out the same: Watch a short conversation, either follow a character or follow footprints, fight the same 4-5 enemy types as always and get some minor passive upgrade as a reward, that’s it. They do almost nothing to shake things up and when they do it’s even worse stuff like a tailing mission. They don’t tell interesting stories, you don’t reach unique locations or well designed "dungeons", there’s no interesting setups or choices, etc.. It’s a short conversation → follow a path → samey fight with the same handful of enemies in samey locations over and over again.
I eventually dropped the regular sidequests and decided to only do the ones that focus on specific characters, assuming those would be more interesting, but aside from slightly more engaging plots they are virtually identical in their design. Only the blue quests that unlock new gear and or abilities are somewhat more unique and varied, but there’s only a small handful of them.
The side “activities” aren’t much better. Do random Haikus to unlock headbands, reach temples in autopilot platforming that makes the platforming in Uncharted seem engaging, clear nearly identical enemy camps that get old after you’ve done 5-6 of them and follow foxes around.
"Someone must have left footprint around here....for the 50th time!"
At least the main quest is good. I liked the characters, I liked how the story focused on honor vs doing what is needed, I thought the characters were pretty good (as a side note there's some great examples of cool non woke female characters), it's well paced and not bloated like other games and even though the mission design also involved a lot of following a trail and fighting the same handful of enemies, at least they have bigger and more complex locations, more interesting setups, more setpiece moments, etc that make it varied enough to not outstay its welcome.
To an extent I can't help but think this might have been better as a more linear game. The visuals are great, the core of the combat is really fun and the story was enjoyable , but this came out 6 years after Infamous Second Son and it still feels like Sucker Punch makes open world games just for the sake of it and still haven't figured out how to actually put worthwhile content in them.