Before we begin: If you're looking for an overview of the base game, check out our in-depth Ghost of Tsushima PS4 review. All of the points that we made in that review also apply to Ghost of Tsuhima: Director's Cut. In this review, we're concentrating on what's new.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut revitalises Sucker Punch's open world epic just over a year after its original release. This is the same base game — the same story of vengeful samurai Jin Sakai — but it's bundled with the all-new Iki Island expansion. And on PlayStation 5, Director's Cut boasts haptic feedback, full Japanese lip sync, and even shorter — that is, non-existent — load times.
If you haven't played the original Ghost of Tsushima on PS4, this is the time to jump in. The Iki Island expansion is obviously the main draw here, and it's worth every penny. A whole new landmass for Jin to explore, Iki has its own storyline, characters, side quests, and activities. It's essentially an additional Ghost of Tsushima 'Act', slotting into the existing experience rather nicely.
Iki presents a personal tale, as Jin is forced to come to terms with his past. Jin was already a solid protagonist in the main game. A little too stoic, perhaps, but likeable, and watching him carve a bloody trail of justice across Tsushima was enough to make you root for his revenge. But the expansion gives Jin an extra dimension, allowing his personality to breathe a bit better. This is partly because Iki seems more solitary; the supporting characters of the main game aren't around, and so the focus is on Jin and his previously mentioned past.
That's not to say Iki is deserted — Jin throws his sword in with a number of unlikely allies — but compared to Tsushima, the new island feels untamed. Overgrown structures litter parts of the landscape and muddy roads disappear into tangled forests. Iki is an island that the samurai failed to conquer, and so it's home only to scattered bands of rogues and pirates. In terms of scale, Iki is roughly the size of the map from the main campaign's final act, but it's more densely populated with locations, landmarks, and secrets. All in all, it took us around 17 hours to see everything that Iki has to offer.
It's a meaty expansion, then, but it's the excellent story missions that stand out. As alluded, Jin has a very personal stake in all of this, and it's preyed upon by the Eagle — a Mongol clan leader who makes use of poisons and mysticism. Just like on Tsushima, Jin's ultimate goal is to rid Iki of the Mongol invaders, but the Eagle's methods give the expansion a different kind of tone. Not only does Jin have to contend with deadly new enemy types, he also has to wrestle with nightmarish visions, brought about by the Eagle's meddling. It's surprisingly psychological stuff, and it helps set Iki's storyline apart from the wartime drama of the main game.
Gameplay-wise, Iki doesn't stray far from the Ghost of Tsushima formula, although it does add welcome wrinkles to existing mechanics with new equipment, which bolsters specific styles of play. Given that the expansion can be accessed once you reach Act 2 in the main campaign, it's understandable that Sucker Punch didn't want to add anything that alters the rules. Instead, Iki adds depth to the overall package. Whether you prefer stealth, archery, or sword-to-sword combat, there's something hiding away on Iki that'll make you revaluate your approach.
Needless to say, the Iki Island expansion strengthens Ghost of Tsushima as a whole — and it's already one of the best open world titles that money can buy. That said, Iki is mostly more of the same. If you're not a fan of the main game, then the expansion probably won't change your mind. Just know that you're missing out on animal sanctuaries, where Jin can pet small monkeys.
Going back to those PS5 features, it's the haptic feedback that makes the biggest difference. While it's not the most transformative example on Sony's newest system, it adds immersive rumblings to just about everything. The thudding of your horse's hooves in full gallop. The violent clashing of weapons. The strong, sudden gusts of wind. You can even feel Jin's heartbeat pulse through the controller as an enemy nears his hiding spot. There's no question that the haptics breathe even more life into the game's already vibrant world. And if you don't happen to like the new rumblings, you can always head into the options menu and lessen the feedback, or turn it off entirely.
It's worth noting that, graphically, Director's Cut looks the same as the PS4 version of the base game does, when that's running on PS5 via backwards compatibility. It's still dynamic 4K at 60 frames-per-second on PS5, and performance is perfect throughout. We did notice, however, that Director's Cut appears to improve a few animations here and there — and some of the menus have received a welcome overhaul.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut amplifies an already excellent open world game. The Iki Island expansion is worth the price of admission alone, providing another chunk of stunning Japanese landscape for Jin to explore, while also digging into the protagonist's past. A fantastic range of story missions and side quests make for a memorable offshore excursion, and put alongside the main campaign, Ghost of Tsushima now stands as a PS4 and PS5 must-buy.