Ghost of Tsushima: Legends has arrived courtesy of Ghost of Tsushima's free 1.12 update, and it's shockingly good. We had reasonably high expectations for this co-op excursion, but Sucker Punch's efforts have still blown us away. This isn't some throwaway multiplayer mode — the kind that we used to see bolted onto everything back in the PS3 days — Legends has enough quality and enough content to be a standalone release. In fact, Sony could have easily slapped a price tag on this and we wouldn't have questioned it — that's how good it is.
Legends offers two distinct modes, both entirely separate from the main single player campaign. Accessed through either the main menu, pause menu, or by speaking to an ominous old storyteller in Jin's adventure, getting into the action is easy. It's tearing yourself away that's the hard part.
Legends' addictive mission-based structure keeps you hooked with cosmetic rewards and loot. Unlike the main game, your chosen character — of four potential classes — has a power level, which grows as you discover and equip more effective gear. If you've dabbled with Destiny or any other loot-'em-up, you'll know how this works. A higher power level allows you to take on greater challenges, and greater challenges give you better rewards.
There are three tiers of difficulty in Legends: Bronze, Silver, and Gold, but by the time you reach Gold, you may as well be playing a different game to the one that you've been grinding through for the last ten hours. As the difficulty ramps up, coordinated teamwork becomes more and more of a necessity, with each player taking full advantage of their character's strengths.
Again, there are two modes to test your mettle. The first is Stories, which allows for two players to team up across a range of story-driven, objective-based missions. The scope and complexity of these missions expands as you progress, and there are even some puzzle-like elements to keep you on your toes. While you can pair up with strangers for Stories, it's clear that these missions have been designed with teamwork in mind. Assassinating two targets at the same time feels amazing, and standing back-to-back with a friend as zombie Mongols charge you from all sides can be thrilling.
The bottom line is that we never expected Ghost of Tsushima co-op to work this well. Almost everything from the single player campaign is here. All characters have full sword combos, projectile weapons, and the ability to block, parry, sprint, sneak, and climb. The only real difference is that you're free to combine with your fellow players, supporting each other with special, class-based moves and kicking demonic arse as a cohesive unit.
While Stories is great fun with the right partner, it's Legends' second mode that beckons you back over and over again. Survival sees up to four players defend strategic points on a map against hordes of undead Mongols and, at times, dangerous boss-like demons known as oni. It takes knowledge of enemy types and patient play to find success in Survival, as one downed ally can quickly snowball into two or three as your team is overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
Survival forces you to juggle Ghost of Tsushima's slick combat with tactical decision making. If one of the locations that you're supposed to be defending falls, then everyone loses a chunk of their maximum health, making the whole battle that much harder. Splitting up in order to defend multiple points at once is the name of the game, but if you get taken out all the way on the other side of the map, no one's coming to save you. The stakes are high, but it's an often gripping mode that rewards quick thinking as well as skill.
We're honestly enamoured with Legends. Sucker Punch has gone above and beyond what was required here, delivering a shockingly in-depth and, more importantly, incredibly fun co-op experience. Did Ghost of Tsushima need a full-on multiplayer expansion? Not at all, but now that it's here, an already exquisite PlayStation exclusive just became even more essential.