19 Aug 2021 1:29 PM +00:00

Ghost of Tsushima Directors Cut Review: Samurai Epic Back For Another Slice

Ghost of Tsushima, in many ways, feels a little like a cult classic. Coming from a strong lineage of PlayStation exclusives, it found itself in the shadows somewhat after launching shortly after a little game called The Last of Us Part 2.

The game may not have attempted to reinvent the medium like its stablemate, but back in 2020, it offered a gorgeous open-world, an engaging story, and some fantastic third-person action gameplay. All of those things, as you'd imagine, stand true with the Director's Cut, which bundles in more of what made the island of Tsushima such a joy to explore in the first place.

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Sharpened Steel

Screenshot from Ghost of Tsushima on PS5 showing the sun setting behind a large mountain
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Whether you're importing your previous save (which is painless, by the way) or starting fresh (including that now-iconic intro), Ghost of Tsushima has never looked better – despite no real discernible performance upgrade from the base PS4 version outside of the new frame-rate of 60 frames-per-second.

That may sound like a disappointment, but there was no point while playing it in 2020 where I felt it needed to be sharper, and that hasn't changed today.

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Improvements have been made, though, but they're more subtle. For one, the PS5's Dualsense adds plenty to the experience. Whether it's the thud of horse hooves flowing through the pad or the way blades clash, it's not long before it feels like it's always been there.

Even the wind, a core mechanic for locating your next objective, feels like it flows through the pad. It's quite remarkable in practice and underlines Sony's commitment to ensuring the tech doesn't feel as underused as the touchpad in recent years.

While the game wasn't exactly full of loading screens, another inherent upgrade of this PS5 port is that what small breaks there are will now pass by in a blink of an eye.

Iki Lodge

Screenshot from Ghost of Tsushima on PS5 Jin crossing a bridge with a series of purple-hued trees in the distance.
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Iki Island is, arguably, the reason to pick up the expansion then. This new landmass is, as you'd imagine, just as beautiful as Tsushima, but its siloed nature as an addendum to the game's second act is both a blessing and a curse.

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On the one hand, if you want to start a fresh save file you can find your way into the island within a few hours. Here, you'll find a more personal story for Jin on the island where his father was killed, as he looks to repel a second Mongol invasion before it can begin.

On the other, once it's over, it's over – and while you can continue to roam its lands, it doesn't add anything to the third act of the core game.

That's not to say time spent on Iki island isn't time well spent, though. Whereas Tsushima is primarily civilised and a little more buttoned-up, Iki is filled with bandits and new things to do. Expect to infliltrate a lot of camps again, albeit with new enemy types to face off with.

While much of the core game's side activities crop up again (damn you, bamboo challenges), there are some fun new additions, including animal sanctuaries with the opportunity to pet critters.

You'll also find new combat dynamics to be aware of, lest you never make it back to the mainland. For one, some enemies will switch their style, requiring Jin to amend his stance more regularly.

For another, your horse can now charge through enemy squads like a big, beautiful knife through butter.

Become Legend

Screenshot from Ghost of Tsushima Legends showing a character in front of a red background.
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It's worth a quick mention, but Ghost of Tsushima added an entirely new mode post-launch, and many that will be jumping in for the first time will undoubtedly want to try Legends.

This co-op mode offers a mystical take on enemies, the world, and even player characters, and features its own high-level raid. It's not new content, but it's sumptuous to play through at 60 FPS.

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Verdict

If you've been looking for more Jin Sakai in your life, then the Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut will happily fulfil that request. After a year of post-launch support, Iki Island feels like a fresh checklist of content to tick off.

It won't break the mould, but it will keep your sword sharp for the inevitable sequel, and if this is your first time jumping into the game then you're in for one of Sony's finest adventures.

4.5/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5

Review copy provided by the publisher