Last year Ghost of Tsushima blew my mind when it launched. It was one of the most gorgeous, awe-inspiring games I’d ever played. It took players and immersed them in a war between Japan’s samurai and the Mongol hordes. Truly, another feather among the many that already adorned Sucker Punch’s hat. Not one to rest on their laurels, Sucker Punch has chosen to double down and answer the age-old question, “How do you make something that’s ridiculously pretty even prettier?” The answer appears to be you make Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut and launch that bad boy on the PS4 and PS5. I had a chance to spend some quality time with the PS5 version ahead of its launch and I was more than happy to re-experience one of my favorite games of 2020.
Cherry blossoms bloom again
As I noted in my previous paragraph and in my original review of Ghost of Tsushima, the game just looks so damn good. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that the Director’s Cut is some real eye candy. All the nature and beauty that surrounded and contrasted the action and violence of the original release are even crisper now. Sunsets are nearly as glorious and blinding as they are in real life, and I once again found myself stopping in fields and on cliff sides just to take in the scenery.
Everything seemed to run at a smooth 60fps throughout my adventure as well. And while everything looked fantastic and ran solid, you can still expect to find or experience an open world game glitch here and there. Nothing game breaking, just some of the quirky visual hiccups that are par for the course in such a game. I also noticed the lack of visual performance enhancing options. I can understand the lack of ray tracing options, but I feel like it might’ve been able to squeeze more out of the PS5. Still, it’s hard to find things to complain about in a game that looks as good as Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut.
As far as brand-spanking new material goes, the Director’s Cut comes with the Iki Island expansion. Iki is about half the size of the core game’s first area and has just about as much content. It offers up some new narrative content that delves deeper into the past of protagonist Jin and the history of the Sakai clan as he takes on a new Mongol threat. The story is a real trip, literally. A lot of stuff gets trippy and spooky in some very cool ways in the expansion’s narrative, and there are some great twists that people will most likely not see coming. My one complaint is that it felt like it was all over super quick, like I was just getting into the good stuff and it was already done. Still, there are other ways to entertain yourself on the island of Iki.
Along with a new narrative, Iki introduces new side missions and mini-games to explore. Players can test their speed and accuracy in archery challenges that have you shoot out sets of paper lanterns as fast as you can. Instead of following foxes to shrines, players will come upon animal sanctuaries and do a little mini-game involving tilt controls to befriend the local woodland creatures. Yes, you get to pet more animals in Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, including some adorable wild cats! There are new Mongol territories to hack-and-slash or sneaky assassin your way through and some new Haiku spots to reflect at after you’ve conquered said territories as well.
Beyond all that there are a few new tricks for your horse that I appreciated. For example, you gain the ability to charge your steed into groups of enemies and trample them. You’ll also be able to unlock storage pouches for your saddle to hold extra arrows and smoke bombs and what have you. All you have to do is whistle to call your horse and resupply. Unfortunately, that’s about it when it comes to new abilities. No new sword stances or special moves to speak of.
One really nice new feature for the PS5 is how the game takes advantage of the new console’s haptic feedback. Being able to feel the tension of the bow as I pulled back an arrow was a nice touch as was the aforementioned flute mini-game. A lot of the controller features are subtle, but a nice overall touch.
I know that I’ve already ranted and raved about how lovely the visuals are in Ghost of Tsushima, but I’ve gotta say that Iki Island really ups the ante. While most of Tsushima was filled with areas that seemed to contain just one color of flowers in its fields, you get a really nice collage of varying colors mixed together as well as a lot of new more tropical settings that give Iki an exotic vibe. Iki is also full of ravaged and decaying villages overrun by ivy that drive home the island’s impoverished inhabitants and its reputation as a refuge for nogoodniks.
That sticky Iki
I think by now it’s clear that Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut looks somehow even better than the original. If you have been sleeping on it, now is definitely the time to check it out. If you’ve already played through what the core game has to offer, Iki Island is a reasonably priced expansion (as is the PS5 upgrade). I do wish it had just a little bit more to offer, but I will take it over nothing. If you loved what this game already had to offer, how could you turn down more of it? The story is compelling enough to keep you playing and Iki itself, as I’ve already said profusely, is total eye candy. It’s time to hop back on that horse and get to the slashing, samurai.
These impressions are based on a review key provided by the publisher. Ghost of Tsushima is available now on PS4. Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut will be available for the PS4 and PS5 on August 20, 2021.
Blake Morse posted a new article, Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut hands-on impressions: A trip down memory lane