Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut DLC is here, and we’ve gotten early access peeks into Iki Island.
When Ghost of Tsushima dropped in 2020, it stunned most of us as one of the most beautiful open world games ever released on Playstation. Today, the Director’s Cut has just dropped along with the DLC, featuring a brand new island. For those who want more Ghost, this is it.
In order to play on Iki Island, you need to complete at least until Act 2 to activate the DLC questline. For those of you coming from PS4, you can upload your PS4 game onto your PS5. The Director’s Cut comes in both PS4 and PS5 versions.
In the Playstation5 version, you feel the difference immediately, with haptic additions to horseriding and some of the tools Jin uses. The graphics are brighter, sharper, with stunning ray tracing effects. And yes, the Japanese lip sync is wonderful.
There are new gameplay mechanics and new enemy types that were pleasantly surprising. As someone who found the main campaign of Ghost a bit too easy-cruisey on Normal mode, such as finding Jin to be massively overpowered after doing the side quests, and boss fights ended too soon. But the Director’s Cut has added a Replay feature, so camps and bosses can be redone as often to your heart’s delight.
The story begins with Jin discovering that Tsushima is about to be invaded by more Mongols, led by a whack mystical woman named ‘the Eagle’ of the neighboring Iki Island. We discover that the Island is run by lawless raiders. But unlike the rest of Japan, both residents and raiders loathe the samurai and thus seek no aid from them despite the Eagle’s maniacal reign.
The journey to Iki Island is deeply personal to Jin, since we find out that is where his father died (that scene where young Jin watches his dad get stabbed in the first game). We come to realize that this is a story of Jin Sakai reconciling with his past.
Similar to the research put into the original campaign, this whole new island is reminiscent of the actual Iki Island in Japan. It’s a semi-tropical island with some of the landscape based off the real life location. As promised in the leaks, there are monkeys, deer, and cats…. So many cats. Lots and lots of cats.
[LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD]
True to what made Ghost of Tsushima so epic, the entrance onto Iki Island is similarly dramatic with heart touching cinematography and music. It starts off gut-wrenchingly poignant, with a shipwreck and losing Jin’s horse to the seas. For the first 5 minutes landing on the island, Kym watched me panic, in disbelief that I had lost yet another steed I had become attached to. WHERE ART THOU SORA? NOT YOU TOO!!!
Instead, we start on a rescue that ends with a whole skill tree dedicated to horse riding badassery. Phew, I was getting ready to /gamequit, my heart can’t take this.
TRIBUTE TO MY NOBLE STEEDS
The DLC features the old favorites from haikus to bamboo challenges, but I was curious about the animal taming. It was a relief to find out it isn’t just a “pet the animal!” gimmick, with each of these tamed animals providing new charms and skill upgrades. I was more of a ninja assassin-cum-samurai styled fighter in this game, but for those who love Ghost’s archery gameplay, you’ll be happy to know that they’ve added Archery challenges peppered across the island.
We enter an island that despises all samurai, even glorifies their death. Unlike Tsushima, Jin starts as the enemy here, and we discover the dark side of samurai and its heritage. This story seems to be more of an exploration of Jin and his traumas. We don’t know much about Jin’s personal story from the main campaign, so it’s interesting to hear what goes on in his mind beyond his Hot Spring ponderings.
However what makes Ghost of Tsushima so compelling wasn’t Jin himself, but his companions and the stories of the people. I miss Yuna, Norio, the missed opportunity with Tomoe, and the unstoppable Lady Adachi.
Even now we see a lot of color in the characters around him, but Jin himself remains tight lipped besides glimpses of his insecurities at this point in the game (4 hours in), I still don’t feel a particularly strong connection to him as a character; even with all the discoveries about his past. Some may argue that this is the way of Samurai and Japanese culture with guarded emotions.
Yet, I still love this world. I found myself going back to read through all the scroll artifacts from Tsushima that I hadn’t bothered looking at before, getting a fuller picture of the gorgeous details put into every aspect of this game. While I suspect this DLC could be completed in a day, I’m going to take my time and enjoy every moment of Iki Island.
If you’re a fan of Ghost of Tsushima, be content in knowing that this is a wonderful extension of the world.