Ghost of Tsushima was one of our favourite PlayStation titles of 2020, joining The Last of Us: Part II in our perfect 10/10 score club in our review last year. While the game was patched to run at 60 frames per second on the PlayStation 5 back at the time of the console’s launch, Ghost of Tsushima has now been given a dedicated PS5 port, taking full advantage of the console’s exclusive feature set, alongside introducing a meaty new expansion to the game, taking place in a new location known as Iki Island.

Our review will focus on the improvements, enhancements and additions to the game introduced via the Director’s Cut, so if you’d like to refresh yourself on our thoughts on the base game, please feel free to check out our original review of the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Iki Island Expansion

The primary motivation for the Director’s Cut is, of course, the Iki Island expansion, a bulky addition to the main game’s story. The island slots in like an additional act and is available at any time from Act II of the main story onwards. This is a rather enjoyable approach, as it means that the expansion is integrated with the main narrative for those starting off the game afresh, rather than just being tacked on to the end of the experience, as is the case with the majority of DLC content in modern games.

Iki Island, rather than offering more of the same, makes a departure from the characters and landscape of the main narrative and fleshes out some of Jin’s personal backstory. The expansion centres around Jin’s fight against a group of Mongols led by a woman known as The Eagle. This group of antagonists have decided to begin plotting an invasion of Tsushima, using Iki Island as their base of operations. In order to stop them in their tracks, Jin makes a departure from Tsushima and travels to Iki Island, with the aim of eradicating the threat right at the source.

What makes the expansion so personal, however, is the revelation that Jin’s father passed away on the land of Iki Island. The result is an emotional return which reveals a softer side of Jin to the player, exposing some of the feelings which he keeps locked away during most of the main story. This experience offers a great deal of additional character development and as a result, if you’ve already played the base game, I’d highly recommend playing through the Director’s Cut using a fresh save and visiting Iki Island during Act II, rather than just loading up your existing save and playing the expansion as a standalone experience.

In terms of content, the objectives which you’ll face on Iki Island are, for the most part, similar to those found in the main story. For example, Mongol Camps are present in many locations on Iki Island and require clearing, similarly to those on Tsushima. While some changes to the gameplay would have been nice, more Ghost of Tsushima is ultimately far from a bad thing, as I found the base game to be incredibly fun, satisfying and enjoyable. The main quests, however, feel very fresh and different, owing to the new location and characters on Iki Island. As with the base game, the writing in the Iki Island expansion is fantastic and main quests introduce compelling and captivating narratives which hooked me right back to the game I fell in love with last year.

Collectibles, landmarks and Easter Eggs also make a return to Iki Island, with some familiar items of interest, such as hot springs, haikus and more, returning from Tsushima island, alongside new additions to the roster of things to discover, such as the very fun animal sanctuaries. These involve interacting with a number of adorable creatures native to the island, while playing some music on your flute and reminiscing about emotional topics. I found these to be the best new side content addition to Iki Island and thoroughly enjoyed the process of discovering them.

Another major change in Iki Island which freshens up the gameplay experience is a change in the enemies which you will encounter during your time there. Enemies who can change their weapon mid-battle now occur frequently during battle, adding an additional layer of complexity where you must stay on your toes and alter your stance appropriately to take them down. The Eagle also introduces some supernatural elements to the Iki Island expansion, creating dark visions for Jin to experience and adding some magical elements to her combat arsenal. There are also Shaman enemies present on Iki Island, who play a supporting role in combat and can buff their allied fighters. In certain ways, Iki Island is a somewhat darker affair, which has quite a different tone, environment and feel from the main story on Tsushima Island, and this is a welcome change as it helps to make the experience feel considerably different, albeit still familiar to those who have played the base game.

In terms of scope, Iki Island should take about ten hours to complete, given a healthy mix of side content and collecting in between main story missions. If you want to complete everything on the island, you are probably looking at a fifteen hour investment, give or take a few hours. Overall, the content added feels quite fresh and just as fun as the main story and is, in my opinion, a worthwhile and meaty addition to the main narrative, which complements it well while maintaining the same level of quality and polish.

PlayStation 5 Enhancements

The Director’s Cut offers a number of enhancements to the PlayStation 5 version of the game and while these are not essential or majorly impactful, they serve as a nice cherry-on-top, to round out the experience. Visually, not much has changed and the game runs in an almost identical configuration as the PS4 backwards-compatible enhanced version on the PS5, with a dynamic 4K resolution at 60 frames per second in the resolution mode.

The largest improvement comes via the introduction of haptic feedback, which makes a considerable impact on the immersion factor. Every stride of your horse, slash of your blade and gust of wind pointing you towards the objective is felt via the hands with yet another stellar implementation of haptic feedback. With the gorgeous, vibrant world of Ghost of Tsushima, this addition just serves as another dimension of immersion which draws you into the captivating environment which stands among the best we’ve seen in a video game.

Another major addition is full Japanese lip synchronisation, which was missing from the original game. If you enjoy playing the game via Japanese for a fully immersive experience, character lip movements will now be perfectly synched with the spoken dialogue, rather than having a ‘dub-like’ appearance, as previously.

Other minor changes include a nice, sleek revamp to the UI and a further improvement to loading times, to the point where fast travel and loading are practically non-existent on PlayStation 5.

While I wouldn’t say that the PS5 upgrade is essential, the haptic feedback implementation is fantastic and does add substantial levels of immersion, if you enjoy these vibrations in other titles. When you add the Iki Island expansion, however, I would say that the Director’s Cut package as a whole is undoubtedly the definitive and recommended way to play Ghost of Tsushima and if you enjoyed the original game, this is absolutely worth a replay with the added features and content, delivering an even better version of one of 2020’s best games.

DISCLAIMER: This review was carried out on PlayStation 5 using review code kindly provided by the publisher, Sony Interactive Entertainment.