Developed By: Sucker Punch Productions
Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4 & 5
Reviewed On: PS5
In my review of Ghost of Tsushima last year when it first came out for the PlayStation 4, I stated that the game was definitely a very good game that at that time just barely missed the mark of what I would consider being a game of the year material. Despite that, I still absolutely loved Ghost of Tsushima especially with how Sucker Punch continued to push out updates to improve the game and also the inclusion of the Legends Mode for free. It wasn’t even a half-hearted effort but a really truly amazing multiplayer experience that my friends and I would party up and obsess over. The game ended up being on a lot of game of the year lists and even won major honours (deservedly) because of the level of care from Sucker Punch who continues to be one of my favourite developers.
Now just over a year since the release, the new and improved Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is here to be the definitive version for fans and newcomers alike. Thanks to our PR contacts and PlayStation Asia we had this amazing opportunity to experience it for ourselves. There has been a slew of opinions online since the announcement especially since the Director’s Cut is going to be a paid expansion and how the pricing of that said expansion represents good value for the existing player base. To be honest I had my own reservations about it but after experiencing most of the new content on offer I can honestly say that if it doesn’t damage your wallet too greatly the Director’s Cut is worth it especially for PS5 owners who have not played the original yet.
Leaves whisper nearby
White buds, shimmering, exposed
While the cat lounges
The biggest inclusion in the Director’s Cut is the new expansion set on Iki Island that expands the journey that Jin is on and also provide more backstory into the experiences that shaped him into who he becomes. The expansion starts off with Jin stumbling upon a coastal village decimated by a new and unfamiliar Mongol tribe. It doesn’t take long before Jin finds out that this new threat comes from Iki Island with a new Mongol shaman who calls herself the Eagle who spreads poison across the island to bend her enemies to her will. It is up to Jin to travel to Iki island and stop this new threat before it spills over to Tsushima and subjects more people to the horrors of the Eagle.
One thing that continues to amaze me about Sucker Punch and Ghost of Tsushima is how every element in the game somehow feels just right. Even though playing through the main quest chain will get you to the “end” in about 6-8 hours depending on how efficient you are, I never felt like it went on for too long or was too lacking. Without spoiling anything, the journey on Iki island was to explore Jin’s past and how it bleeds into the present in his quest to defeat the Eagle and it was just really effortless how it was pulled off. Ankhsar Khatun as the Eagle was somehow an omnipresent villain without ever feeling overused and Jin’s past was unfolded elegantly as the two inevitably melded together. I’m actually glad that they addressed a possible story issue really almost immediately a lot like the game was psychically reading my thoughts when I wanted to point out a flaw.
I am also glad to report that Mythic Tales are also back aside from the other side quests littered about Iki Island. One interesting side quest I enjoyed was helping a young man rebuild his home and I thought it was such a nice touch to be bumping into him on what felt like random locations around Iki island. If you enjoyed the quality in the original then you will definitely enjoy what is on offer on Iki Island.
Moss clings to a home too harsh
The roar, an embrace
When it comes to the visuals, an already gorgeous looking game just feel immaculate at this point. Funny enough just fiddling around in the settings for some reason the toggle for performance and quality mode is still there even though the game is running at 4K60 on the PS5. I am just assuming it is a remnant carried over to the native PS5 version but nevertheless is still weird. Performance is also a very rock-solid 60fps across the board with no noticeable drops in frame rates. Last year I also found that the HDR was just slightly off where it can get too bright or too dark at times, but I am just excited to report how that is just not an issue anymore. The lighting in this game is just spectacular with HDR on. PS5 owners are going to be incredibly satisfied playing this gorgeous looking game on it.
However, one thing that I do want to point out is how unfortunately they did say with the power of the PS5 they were able to provide accurate Japanese lip sync but I mean it was kind of an odd thing to tout due to how the majority of conversations are still at a distance.
Now I could be wrong, but I do feel as if they have expanded their sound profiles to accommodate multiple ranges. I took note of it because rarely would I see a profile specifically for soundbars in most games, so I appreciated that it was included here. I mean I love using headphones as much as everyone else but sometimes you really do need to listen to life moving around you. The game sounds fantastic and one of the newer inclusions was how now there is 3D Audio for PS5 owners. 3D audio is always going to be a hit or miss experience depending on the user, but I did find my own to be satisfactory. Rich clear sounds accompanying the soundtrack that will go down as one of the best videogame soundtracks in recent history.
When it comes to the gameplay, as the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The same solid gameplay returns with a new technique meant to complement the existing playstyle. Horse charge is the new technique where your mount can now be used to charge down enemies satisfyingly at the cost of resolve. I also thought the new inclusion of saddlebags to be a good one where excess ammunition can be stored on the horse.
When it comes to points of interest around the maps the usual is featured on Iki island like the bamboo strike posts to upgrade Jin’s resolve but there are new ones as well like the archery posts and the animal sanctuaries. Archery posts are timed contests to take out the targets in a set amount of time and the animal sanctuaries (which I love) is where you restore them by playing your flute to the animals so you can pet them (AWWWW). Duels also come back in an interesting new way which I think might surprise and challenge players.
There is one thing though that I have yet to figure out is across Iki Island I come across these shrines which serve as an easter egg reference to other PlayStation first-party games like Bloodborne and God of War. I found them interesting because you are given a riddle but solving these shrines is really quite a tough puzzle. So far I have been able to solve just one unlocking a new mask that references Shadow of the Colossus so I guess it’s a cool little detail.. For those curious about how big the map is, I would say it’s about 70-80% of the first area or zone on Tsushima but does feel a little more condensed with activities.
There are a couple of things I do want to talk about gameplay enhancements with the PS5 version. Firstly, when it comes to the haptics and adaptive triggers, I feel like with everything else it’s just nicely implemented. It’s there without being too much or too little that you don’t notice it’s there. If you remember the golden birds that point you towards points of interest, there is a new firefly that buzzes around you to artifacts and it’s interesting feeling the haptics for that. Load speed is hard to compare due to how the original on the PS4 was already so fast.
What I Loved
- Combat – Still as great as ever. Coming back to feel like a samurai badass is just so good.
- Soundtrack – I mean it is pretty much the same tracks with what feels like slightly new arrangements but I mean it is already so great so I can’t complain.
- New Characters – Liked them. Whether they were main ones or just side characters I just enjoyed the interactions nonetheless.
- Graphics & Performance – Smooth and gorgeous. A spectacular graphical showcase just feels better even if it does feel like a slight improvement because it was already gorgeous to begin with.
May Your Death Benefit All Beings
It’s strange how before I played the Director’s Cut, I felt like I played Ghost of Tsushima fairly recently and yet I think the last time I played it was last year. The game is just so good at welcoming me back to it that even though there are some story beats that I might have forgotten about from the original, it still feels like I’m coming back home with the expansion. Jin is still a fantastic protagonist and just the entire gameplay experience for Ghost of Tsushima is hugely satisfying.
While playing through this expansion I could not help but draw comparisons with the recently released Assassins Creed Valhalla expansions. When Ghost of Tsushima came out, there were conversations about how it was a better AC title than what the AC series has turned into. I mean even after Valhalla came out it is hard to not compare them. With Valhalla, as great as some parts turned out to be it does feel that the series just got too big and bloated and even with the recent expansions that don’t seem like it will end anytime soon. It was hard going back to those expansions because I felt like the game just overflowed me with content it left an uncomfortable lingering feeling.
I really did not feel that way going back to Ghost of Tsushima in this Director’s Cut. I think the reason for that is because from a game design philosophy it just feels so light, minimal, efficient, and respectful. I can argue that even in Iki island there are a lot of more of the same elements from the base game, but I still really enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
One of the most important questions for expansions or season pass items for me is always is this essential enough for me to want to play it. In this instance it was and I was really happy with how this expansion turned out. Play what you love and I’m glad I had the chance to.