Lennon McGuirk reviews the expanded and upgraded version of 2020’s acclaimed Ghost of Tsushima.
The initial release of Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima was a major success, telling the story of Jin Sakai, a Samurai fighting off the Mongol invasion on the island of Tsushima. Struggling to retain his honour while doing whatever it took to stave off the Mongols. The base game tells a dramatic story split into three acts, all while challenging players with a satisfying combat system.
The director’s cut upgrade acts as an extension of the already existing story. It becomes the fourth act in the overall Ghost of Tsushima story. Strangely, it unlocks after completing the second act of the game,and there are numerous references to third act events and combat on the new Iki Island location which is significantly more challenging than the main island. On top of that, there are sporadic drug trips that cannot be avoided and sometimes happen at awkward times and don’t really add much to anything besides Jin (and the player’s) suffering. These however are mild complaints about an almost perfect DLC.
They highlight the one thing that this game has always excelled at, natural exploration
Iki Island opens up a new main quest line, as well as over a dozen side quests. Unlike the base game, there are no real dud quests here. Everyone is meticulously planned out to fit into the gameplay narrative. I especially liked the “hidden quests'' that you can find by simply entering buildings or talking to a random character. For one such quest, I accidentally found myself stopping Mongols from attacking a bee farm. They highlight the one thing that this game has always excelled at, natural exploration.
The new island is absolutely packed with secrets to uncover, such as shrines that can give you Easter egg themed armour sets, as well as archery challenges, and a brand new type of location called animal sanctuaries where you get to play songs and pet monkeys, deer, and cats.
The upgrade also introduces a multitude of minor tweaks for quality of life changes, such as a lip-sync to the Japanese dub as well as frame rate increases, haptic feedback, and a handful of new combat moves that allow you some new tactics in a fight. The most fun of which is the new charge ability which turns your horse into a Mongol battering ram.
Where some DLC expands on the gameplay with massive changes and new systems, Ghost of Tsushima's director’s cut acts more like an extension of the main game loved by so many - with only a handful of appreciated tweaks. In conjunction with changes to enemy combat skills and exploration, playing through Iki fits so perfectly into the original three-act epic as an outstanding fourth. Ever so slightly dusted with imperfections, the captivating story, combat, graphics, and soundtrack are all still among the very best PlayStation has to offer, mostly overshadowing any of the few issues present. It’s for those reasons why Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut gets 4 out of 5 Sakai Banners from me.