With a stellar track record in producing big blockbusters that make consoles worthy of investment, Sucker Punch Productions and PlayStation Studios know just how to deliver an excellent product. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that is primarily the case for Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, with new content and refreshing twists that enhance an already impressive formula.
With the strong fundamentals already laid in place with last year’s Ghost of Tsushima, the Director’s Cut of the action-adventure epic delivers the same level of quality, albeit with additions that delight both returning and new players to Jin Sakai’s fight against the Mongol invasion.
It is important to note the two different ways players will experience the new Iki Island content that is central here. Those who have already completed Jin’s journey will arrive in the new area fully armed and proficient in what the titular Ghost can do, whereas newcomers can embark on this adventure upon reaching Act 2 of the main campaign.
In terms of gameplay, Iki Island presents an opportunity both for veterans and newcomers to learn new and useful tricks, but more crucially, it harbours deep and impactful narrative development that will develop Jin’s character arc even more.
For returning players, you get a better understanding of the struggles and inner demons that Jin contends with even after his monumental victory. On the other hand, those just getting started can benefit from a more well-rounded essence of the hero, and be able to appreciate the upcoming twists and turns even more.
The Eagle and her warriors are undoubtedly formidable foes, and bring more than just brute strength and overwhelming numbers to the fight. Her use of mind-bending poison, persuasion and coercion, and brutal violence works effectively against the people of Iki Island. Thankfully, Jin will be able to count on unconventional allies as he continues his evolution as a samurai, the Ghost, and making peace with the past.
Needless to say, this new encounter with the Eagle tribe and the inhabitants of Iki Island makes for a welcomed addition to the lore of the Ghost, and is complemented by the still-breathtaking visuals, intense action, and fun exploration that makes Director’s Cut such a joy to experience.
Iki Island by itself is not that huge of a play space, but it leaves a deep impression as yet another showcase of the mastery that Sucker Punch possesses when it comes to art direction. Surrounded by water on all fronts, towering cliffs and hillsides are connected by long stretches of beaches, as well as colourful plains and mystical forests that look absolutely stunning on the PlayStation 5.
The original game was already immensely pleasing to the eye, and Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut kicks it up a notch. While not many games can claim to make pointless exploration a not-to-be-missed opportunity, and every moment of exploring is a visual feast, tonally, it also sets it apart from the more war-torn environments that are on the main island.
Of course, sightseeing is not exactly the point here, with Iki Island in need of liberation from the Mongol hordes. On this front, Jin remains a fearsome warrior both in the shadows and in the light of day. All the tools, such as smoke bombs and kunai, return, while your trusty steed gets a new line of skills to pick to let players live out their cavalry dreams with a powerful charging attack.
The Mongols still come in their different variety of swordsmen, spearmen, archers, shieldbearers, and agile assassins. However, the Eagle tribe boasts a fearsome new threat in the form of the Shamans. These should be everyone’s public enemy number one, as their chanting allows other combatants to shake off damage and attack incessantly. That growling incantations can easily become a recurring nightmare for those who do not prioritise these threats.
While it is disappointing to see only a few skills added, it also makes sense in that the Iki Island expansion is not positioned to continue the main story, but as an addition early in the story instead. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut does add more activities for players to partake in, with the new Archery challenges a particular highlight.
Animals are also a big part of Iki Island, with multiple sanctuaries popping up around the island, adding a musical minigame that brings Jin and the monkeys, deers, and cats closer together. The rewards of additional buffing charms are not exactly essential, but at least there is something new to pursue. The bamboo strikes, haiku sessions, hot springs, and banner collecting are also extended to this new area, which makes Iki Island feel like an organic part of the overarching tale as well.
New activities, enemies, cosmetics, and more of the excellent combat, quests, and Mythic Tales make the Iki Island expansion a great supplement to Jin’s tale, but the narrative touchstones it adds are arguably the best parts of this expansion.
Jin is not immune to the effects of the Eagle’s subtle ways, and he is inevitably captured and forced to drink her poison. From then on, hallucinations become your constant companions, drawing back painful memories and realising Jin’s biggest fears in visions. This can happen as part of the story, but more impressively, it can occur organically throughout the world.
You might see enemies that are not really there, or familiar faces that are anything but friendly. It even takes into context just how far you are into the main story, tying things together in a surprisingly tailored way.
Through all of these episodes, you can truly start to peel off more layers when it comes to Jin Sakai. As a man, a son, a samurai, and a hero, all of these are not possible without a price to pay, and the game reveals his journey quite successfully.
As mentioned, such character development allows players to relate more to our hero, especially for those who have seen his journey and growth all the way to the end. In a sense, the Iki Island expansion becomes a more enticing offer for players who cannot get enough of Jin and Ghost of Tsushima as a whole. If you are a new player, then you have even more to look forward to following this diversion.
The dynamic 4K resolution and targeted 60FPS makes exploration and combat even more gorgeous, with colours that simply pop out of the screen. Even with this increase in quality, there is very little loading and fast travel continues to be amazing, transporting players across the map in an instant.
The 3D audio is a treat in the middle of combat or in quieter, more contemplative moments. When combined with the DualSense’s haptics that let players feel every katana clash and the different surfaces being stepped on, it elevates the immersion to a whole other level. For those looking for that pure Japanese experience, the accurate lip-syncing will be one to look out for as well.
In what is hopefully a mandated process moving forward, the save transfer from the PS4 to PS5 version of the game is surprisingly fuss-free, and without the need to have the previous generation of the game installed. Using the powers of the cloud, players can bring over their data easily and get into the thick of the action in seconds.
As for Legends, the new Rivals mode will make its debut on September 3, but the multiplayer experience will be available for Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut at launch. While we were not able to enjoy playing with friends, the potential of the multiplayer mode will only be even better with new hardware and content.
Overall, this updated version offers an astounding experience for anyone who owns a PS5 and has not played the game before. Its combination of superior storytelling, engaging gameplay systems, and a diverse and interesting cast of characters make for an outstanding gaming experience like no other. The bells and whistles of the new console only serve to make this even more of a no-brainer.
However, if you are coming back to the game having experienced all of that, the new console features may not matter that much. Even the Iki Island expansion is only slightly adding to what you already know from previous adventures. Whether that is enough to justify an upgrade is entirely up to your appetite for more of the same, even if it is still a narrative treat.
If you decide to jump in, you will find a game that is the complete package. Taking everything players know and love and expanding upon it, creating more ways for players to fall in love with the world and characters, and enhancing all of that with the power of the PS5, the epic adventure just got better. Instead of just being a swansong for the PS4, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut has arrived on the PS5 and becomes an instant classic yet again.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
With more amazing content and new bells and whistles, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut provides compelling reasons to enjoy the stellar game yet again for veterans and an excellent experience for new players.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Story - 9/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 9/10