Game Reviews

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut Review

Iki Island is the best part of Ghost of Tsushima.

by Diego Perez

Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best games on PlayStation 4 when it launched last July, and now it’s one of the best games on PlayStation 5. While this new version of Sucker Punch’s stylized samurai adventure isn’t a fully-fledged remake built from the ground up for next-gen hardware, it’s still an incredibly beautiful game that now has a sizable chunk of new content for fans to dive into. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is the first in a new trend of PlayStation Director’s Cuts, which are essentially rebranded complete editions with new content added, and it makes a great first impression.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is largely the same game as the original, save for the new expansion and a few quality of life features. In our original Ghost of Tsushima review, we called it “a masterclass on how to make an open world feel palatable and focused while still offering the rewarding progression necessary to make it all come together.” We awarded the game a score of 4.5/5 and our opinion still stands. This review will focus on the new features of the Director’s Cut and the new Iki Island expansion.

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While the Director’s Cut is available on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, the PS5 version does get a few additional features. The most notable is lip sync for Japanese voices, something the original version was missing. The DualSense features are also surprisingly robust. The haptic feedback makes sword strikes feel stronger than ever, and the adaptive triggers are used in interesting ways with the grappling hook and bow.

PS5 players also get access to 3D audio, although I didn’t notice much of a difference in my playthrough. Finally, the PS5 version features a dynamic 4K resolution targeting 60 FPS, but the PS4 version also runs at 60 FPS at a similar resolution via backward compatibility, so it’s not much of an upgrade. The improved load times are great, though. While the Director’s Cut improvements are nice, the real meat of this new version is the Iki Island expansion.

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Iki Island is all the best parts of Ghost of Tsushima rolled into one. It has a great story, gorgeous visuals, and the absolute best side content in the entire game. The island is smaller than Tsushima, roughly a third the size of the original map, but it’s densely packed with quests, activities, and locations to explore. Despite the island’s small size, it contains several different biomes from fog-filled forests to beaches with shining turquoise waters. Ghost of Tsushima is already known for its stunning visuals, but Iki offers some of the best vistas in the game.

Jin journeys to Iki Island in search of a mysterious Mongol shaman called the Eagle. She has a devoted following and employs a different array of tactics than Khotun Khan, giving this expansion a very different vibe than the original Tsushima story. It’s a much more personal story for Jin. Iki is also a samurai-free island occupied by raiders, thieves, and now Mongols, so Jin isn’t necessarily welcomed with open arms when he arrives.

Jin’s personal connection to the island is the driving force behind the expansion’s story. He has a history with Iki Island. It’s where Fort Sakai is located, and it’s where he watched his father die at the hands of bandits. Because of both internalized guilt and interference from the Eagle, Jin is forced to confront his past while also clearing the island of the invading Mongol threat. The Iki Island expansion tells a deeply personal tale for Jin where he struggles with the guilt of his past mistakes, and it’s an incredibly compelling tale.

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Iki Island is also designed for players who are at least somewhat familiar with the game’s combat system and mechanics, so it isn’t afraid to throw difficult combat encounters at you. I don’t know if it was because I was still relearning the controls and finer details of combat since I haven’t played since last year, but it felt like the game was throwing larger crowds of enemies at me comprised of more varied enemy types. The new duels featured in the expansion are also pretty challenging.

The Iki Island expansion also introduces a new enemy type called Shamans, and they power up the surrounding Mongols and make much them more aggressive.  When you hear one enter a fight, you have to stop what you’re doing and frantically search for them unless you want to deal with buffed enemies. They add an interesting dynamic to combat where control of the situation can be wrestled away from you if you’re not paying attention. Ghost of Tsushima’s combat already has a lot going on with stances, parries, abilities, and throwables, but Shamans add yet another layer of strategy onto an already complex combat system.

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Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, the free multiplayer mode that launched last fall, is also getting new content soon, although I didn’t get the opportunity to test it out during the review period. When Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut launches, Legends will receive an update that will add new features like a rebalanced survival mode and new weekly challenge variants. On September 3, a new mode called Rivals will be added to the game that pits two teams of two against each other as they compete to clear waves of enemies before their opponents. Gear Mastery will also be introduced into Legends, allowing players to enhance gear even further than before. Again, I didn’t get a chance to try the new modes or features for Legends during the review, but they’re still worth mentioning as Legends is a great time.

While the Director’s Cut improvements are appreciated, the Iki Island expansion is the real star of this rerelease. Iki Island distills all the best parts of Ghost of Tsushima into one focused experience, and it provides an incredibly compelling reason to return to the game. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is the best version of an already great game, and you should absolutely check it out if you skipped it last year. We can only hope that future PlayStation Director’s Cuts live up to the standards set by Sucker Punch.

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Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut

  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: PS4, PS5
  • Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developed By: Sucker Punch Productions
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • US Release Date: August 20, 2021
  • Reviewed On: PS5
  • Quote: "While the Director's Cut improvements are appreciated, the Iki Island expansion is the real star of this rerelease. Iki Island distills all the best parts of Ghost of Tsushima into one focused experience, and it provides an incredibly compelling reason to return to the game."
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