Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut Review (PS5)
Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best games that came out in 2020 and as a new IP, it turned out to be a smash hit for both Sony and Sucker Punch. The game continued to be a breath of fresh air for fans with the launch of Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, the free multiplayer mode that launched three months after its release.
One year later, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut arrives to much fanfare and more importantly, the long-awaited native PlayStation 5 version that would take advantage of the new hardware.
For fans, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut almost seems like an instant “take my money” moment. For a measly $20 ($30 if you go the full upgrade to the PS5 version), you get the Iki Island expansion and all the other bells and whistles that come along with it. Despite the next-gen upgrade being hidden in a rather contentious manner, price is of little issue to some considering what Sucker Punch has delivered for the past year.
If you’re still on the fence about it, take our hand as we slip back into the shoes (or is it sandals?) of Jin Sakai and re-discover the world of Tsushima once again.
As we return to the familiar battlefield where the Mongols had their one-sided victory against Tsushima’s samurai, the dishonorable duel between Khotun Khan and Lord Adachi, and the eventual “death/rebirth” of Jin Sakai, playing Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on the PlayStation 5 has been a real treat. The visuals are sharper and crisper, the 3D audio is a welcome dose of awesome, and the haptic feedback is very well implemented.
In short, the overall experience has been massively improved.
Most noticeable would be the boost to frame rates, especially for those coming from the base PS4. As far as our eyes could tell, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on the PS5 ran at a rock-solid 60fps. It didn’t matter if we chose Resolution or Frame Rate mode, nor did it matter that there were a bunch of Mongols in our way during a hectic battle, the game ran smoothly from start to finish.
This is not new though, as the PS4 version of the game played on the PS5 already ran at 60fps, but of course, the native PS5 version is better optimized and will have other obvious advantages.
Playing Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on the PS5, you’ll immediately notice how the Adaptive Triggers and Haptic Feedback work to immerse you deeper into the game. Pulling on your Half Bow has a much lighter resistance compared to heavier triggers for the Long Bow, and even the use of the grappling hook to unblock pathways has a slight heft to it that translates well on-screen. The use of adaptive triggers in the game is not overdone and you can choose to turn it down a notch from the settings screen as needed.
Haptic Feedback is the bigger talking point between the two, and Sucker Punch has done a great job here. Combined with audio coming from the controller speaker, the haptics really brings the immersion home by creating the illusion of sound to simulate on-screen actions like weather patterns and sword fights. You’ll feel it when your horse gallops, when you are scaling a wall, or even through the menus, but similar to the adaptive triggers, it is not overused and can be toned down if you choose.
A feature exclusive to the PS5 version of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is the addition of Japanese lipsync, which now replaces the awkward mismatch of audio to video on the screen from before. While much improved, there are awkward bits of sync where the lip animation either has been sped up, slowed down, or even morphed to attempt to match the Japanese dialogue. It’s not perfect, but we’ll take it.
The Eagle Has Landed
For many, the biggest draw of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is the Iki Island DLC, which brings new enemies, new techniques, a new storyline, and another region to discover.
The Iki Island adventure is a midgame DLC that could be explored as soon as you reach the Toyotama region in Act Two. Prior to entering, the tutorials will warn you that it is a high-level area, so we would suggest having all stances unlocked first before making your way to Iki.
The guiding wind will then take you on a journey to Iki Island where the Eagle Clan, a new Mongol force, is beginning their conquest. Thus begins a new adventure about overcoming past trauma, defeating a new threat, and petting every new animal encountered.
Iki Island has a distinct look about it compared to Tsushima. In Tsushima, you’ll notice that a lot of structures and vistas looked untouched, but Iki Island has a history that is seen through the various ruins and crashed ships on its shore. The island has a story to tell, with Jin Sakai in the middle of it all.
Despite the wreckage, Iki Island feels more “tropical” and more rural, playing home to various wildlife not seen in Tsushima. The experience may be the same in the grand scheme of things, but exploring Iki Island holds new activities that will give you a somewhat fresh take on things.
Similar to the Inari Shrines in Tsushima, Iki Island has animal sanctuaries that feature a flute-playing minigame to tame the native wildlife. There are also Archery challenges in Iki Island that will test your accuracy and speed. Haiku’s and hot springs are back as well, along with the Pillars and new Mythic Tales, but what’s nice is that these activities all tie back to Jin, telling a deeper story about his past. There is a great incentive to complete everything in Iki Island not just to tick some boxes, but to also learn more about Jin and his Clan.
The Eagle Clan lay host to new units called Shamans, a new enemy type that can buff and provide support, allowing their troops to attack more relentlessly. There are also Mongol units that can wield more than one weapon type (Sword and Spear), requiring you to switch stances often, adding a layer of strategy to fights not seen in Tsushima. This may seem like a small addition but really adds a more dynamic tone to battles, keeping you on your toes.
For new players, the Iki Island DLC is a fantastic bonus that definitely enhances the whole experience. Returning players who are playing Ghost of Tsushima again just for the DLC may want a bit more out of it, especially since the main questline only lasts for around 3-5 hours. Exploring the whole island and completing the added content would be roughly around 10-15 hours, adding extra cosmetics and charms for you to use as you continue your journey in Tsushima.
The Iki Island expansion certainly ticks the checklist for what makes a good DLC – new enemy types, skills, cosmetics, activities, and more backstory while taking on a new challenge.
One thing that’s not quite as easy to do on the PlayStation side of the fence is the process of transferring save files from the PS4. While not a really big deal for some, the process usually requires players to have the PS4 version of said game, upload a save, and download said save on the PS5 version.
Sucker Punch, being the wizards they are, has made things easier for everyone, employing a process that does not require both versions of the game to be installed. In Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, you simply boot up the game, go into the option that asks for you to transfer your PS4 save from the main menu, choose a save file to use (assuming you have your old save file on the system), and you’re ready to go.
The backwards compatible version of the game improved on the already impressive loading times from the PS4 and PS4 Pro, but the PS5 version of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is simply ridiculous, taking you from the dashboard to loading your save and actually playing the game in less than 12 seconds. The speed is absurd, and fast travel loading times are also near-instant, making the game one whole seamless and fluid experience.
The PS5 upgrades brought about by Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is a great talking point, since it technically costs $10 instead of the usual low price free. Personally, the improvements are quite massive compared to other titles, so you could somewhat justify the cost there. Playing Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on the PS5 was such a smooth experience that makes the package well worth the price of admission.
On top of this, there are other small quality of life updates like alternate controller layouts, a new target lock-on option, and the ability to hide/show your quiver, all of which were highly requested player feedback from before.
What we liked:
- An improvement on the PS5 in many ways including visuals, frame rates, and DualSense support.
- Expanded universe with Iki Island providing anywhere from 10-15 hours of extra content.
- Easy save transfer going from PS4 to PS5.
What we didn’t like:
- Japanese audio is an improvement, but some lip animation is still awkward.
- For returning players, the Iki Island expansion may feel a little underwhelming.
- $10 PS5 upgrade can still be a point of contention.
Verdict: Buy It!
Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is a standout experience especially on the Playstation 5. It has enhanced the already beloved title with many improvements over its PS4 counterpart including improved visuals, DualSense support, and much-improved frame rates among other things. While the $10 upgrade fee is a bitter pill to swallow for some, we feel that the proof is in the pudding, and the upgrades are substantial enough to make the experience even better.
The amount of value that you get in Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut as a whole is very good, considering you get the full game, the Iki Island DLC, the incredibly robust Legends multiplayer mode, and the PlayStation 5 improvements. Topped by a relatively smooth save file transfer system, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut was developed with love and it feels like a “Thank You” from Sucker Punch to its fans.
If you’re a returning player only looking to take on Iki Island, the journey could be a somewhat average experience. Despite the added 10-15 hours of gameplay, the DLC was decent but not mind-blowing. There are more challenges to conquer, more Mongols to slay, and more animals to pet, but returning just for Iki Island may feel more of the same despite the addition of two new enemy types and new side-activities.
Overall, new players who will be jumping in for the first time or those who have been waiting for the PS5 version should be in for a treat as Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is certainly the definitive edition of the game and is a worthwhile addition to your library.
*Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut has been reviewed on a PS5 with a code provided by the publishers.