Ghost of Tsushima Director's cut and iki Island Expansion review

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut and Iki Island Expansion Review – Now it’s Personal (PS5)

Ghost of Tsushima was always a personal story for Jin, who had to wrestle with the ways of the samurai and whether or not “honor” was worth losing everything when there were other options. Iki Island, however, presents an even more personal tale for the titular Ghost, who must wrestle with a dark past, personal demons and further realization that the ways of the samurai may not be so infallible as he was once taught to believe.  It’s a haunting new tale that ties in with the themes that came from Tsushima while standing admirably on its own, never feeling like it rehashes things that came before.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut brings the beloved PlayStation-exclusive game to PS5, and launches all-new content in the form of the Iki Island expansion. Players who haven’t yet experienced Ghost of Tsushima can play through the entire game for the first time with new PS5 enhancements and all current updates, while existing players can import their PS4 save and pick up where they left off (even instantly unlocking all of your previously earned Trophies).

The import process is simple and doesn’t require the PS4 version of Ghost of Tsushima to be installed. As long as you have it on your PS5 console, it will recognize and import the save file. Note that you can’t have it in the PS Plus cloud storage. You must download the save to your console so that the game can recognize it. Initially I ran into a small issue where the new Iki Island content wasn’t appearing for me on my PS4 Platinum save file—it will populate as a new section in the “Tales” area of the pause menu—but I simply saved the game and restarted the application to fix the problem.

Ghost of Tsushima Director's cut and iki Island Expansion review
My hiccup getting to Iki Island wasn’t near as harrowing as Jin’s journey there.

Note that we won’t be re-reviewing the base game here, except to account for the new PS5 enhancements. Our original review of Ghost of Tsushima still stands.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut and Iki Island Expansion Review – Welcome to Iki

Iki Island, for the most part, serves as its own adventure separate from the events of the main game. In fact, whenever you choose to sail to Iki—anytime after reaching Act 2 of the main game—you’re more or less stuck there for the duration of its story. You can eventually return to Tsushima and then go back and forth to Iki at any time to clean up points of interest and other various side activities you may have missed on the island. Iki is added to the map as a fourth zone, and you can fast travel anywhere on Tsushima or Iki just as fast (if not faster, thanks to the PS5) as moving around Tsushima in the base game.

Having completed the game and earned my Platinum Trophy last year, my Iki playthrough served as a follow-up to the main game’s story, which felt appropriate, thematically. I’m very curious how it will play for people who decide to undertake it during the main game, given that it’s such a large detour from the main narrative, and certain elements will dynamically refer to events or characters from Tsushima. Iki Island is also rather tough, featuring strong enemies with some deadly new abilities. After a year away from the game, it took a few deaths before I had relearned how to play.

Ghost of Tsushima Director's cut and iki Island Expansion review

Jin travels to Iki after hearing rumors of The Eagle, a Mongol invader on the island that was somehow driving people to madness. He wants to put a stop to the threat before it comes to Tsushima. However, Jin’s own past connects intimately with this island inhabited by pirates and raiders. More so than just what it means to be a samurai, Jin is forced to struggle with his family legacy. Iki also explores the parallels between the Mongols as an invading force, and the samurai themselves, who had led an arguably similar campaign on the island only 15 years earlier. It’s less about questioning the methods of the samurai, and more into exploring the fallacy of every powerful force believing they are the “good guys” and believing they are doing the “right thing.” This is also where Jin had failed to save his father’s life, a guilt and burden we see him carry in the main game, now explored in much more depth.

The Iki Island story is so engaging, I would have loved to see the idea fleshed out entirely as a full-length sequel. The pacing is pretty good, but I did feel like there was a lot more room to explore the conflicts of Jin’s past, his family legacy, and the current reality on the island. Conflicts and tension that felt like they should have been more drawn out were wrapped up a bit too quickly in some cases. The legacy of the samurai, and more specifically, the Sakai clan, is even more tainted on Iki than anywhere an Tsushima, and Jin building trust with locals after cutting down a few Mongols felt at times disingenuous to their 15 years of harbored anger at the samurai.

Iki Island features the same great gameplay as the main game, with some nice tweaks and surprises here and there so that it never quite feels like its retreading the same ground as Tsushima. There are a few new combat mechanics, like charging into enemies with your horse, and some new Charms to add variety to your build. Iki Island Mongols also have Shamans, who will chant and empower groups of enemies. This is on top of enemies being able to switch up their weapons (swords, shield, spear), which require you to switch your own stance constantly to effectively counter them. I rather enjoyed this mechanic and it felt like it created a fresh facet to every fight.

Ghost of Tsushima Director's cut and iki Island Expansion review

All in all, Iki Island slots into Ghost of Tsushima very well. While I’d recommend waiting to take it on until after you’ve completed the main game’s golden path, it retains enough thematic similarity to feel at home no matter when you decide to venture to Iki. The Iki narrative also ties into story threads presented in the main game in a really meaningful way, making it a natural-feeling content addition, rather than a tacked-on bonus. Players who experience Ghost of Tsushima for the first time with the Director’s Cut won’t even notice the seams of this additional tale interwoven into the story tapestry, and returning players will feel right at home picking up where they left off.

Altogether, I spent about 10 hours with the Iki Island content, which included the entire main story, every side tale, and assorted points of interest scattered around the island. There’s still a little bit more for me to do and find, but 10 hours was enough to largely finish of the big main objective markers that pop up.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut Review – PS5 Enhancements

Ghost of Tsushima was already an impressive looking and playing game on the PS4, pushing the boundaries of the last-gen console to seemingly impossible heights, and the power of the PS5 turns that 11 up to 12. Lighting is, if possible, even more stunning, creating vistas and environments that are consistently picturesque at ever turn. It took all of my strength not to spend an inordinate amount of time in the photo mode again, taking both portraits of the characters and environmental shots of Iki Island.

While Director’s Cut comes with the option to toggle between better frame rate and better resolution, I couldn’t notice a drastic difference between the two at a glance. Both feel like they push at what’s possible with resolution and framerate, targeting 4K and 60 fps no matter which you choose. The tech savvy people over at Digital Foundry will probably prove me very wrong shortly, but to my average human eye, I couldn’t detect an immediately noticeable difference. The PS4 version already ran at 60fps on PS5 anyway, so a proper native PS5 port is really about bringing that resolution parity up to 4K alongside the buttery smooth frame rate. Either way, it looks damn good.

Ghost of Tsushima Director's cut and iki Island Expansion review

PS5 players also get the ability to see Japanese lip sync thanks to the realtime rendering capabilities of the console. It works rather well, considering, and adds another layer of authenticity when using the Japanese audio with English subtitles. To really experience the game as a classic samurai film, do all this with Kurosawa mode on too.

Additionally, all of the expected PS5 features are here, done to a level of quality I’ve come to expect from PlayStation Studios titles. 3D audio creates an immersive soundscape for a world that was already entrenched in rich environmental audio. Haptic feedback is used impressively to bring sensations that feel as if they move across the controller and flow side to side, perfectly capturing what’s happening on the screen. And the adaptive triggers bring a whole new feeling to using the grappling hook and bow. I feel like these little enhancements will go sadly underappreciated by many, but they really add a lot to the experience of an already amazing game.

And those loading times? They were already wicked fast on PS4, and they’ve somehow made them even faster—almost non-existent—on PS5. I can’t wait for the official tests that show the differences.

For returning players, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is well worth diving back into for the Iki Island expansion alone and the way it explores a different facet of Jin’s internal conflicts. It may not sate the desire for a full sequel, but it does a lot of cool things to make the experience feel fresh even as it explores the familiar. For brand new players who missed the game on PS4, there’s no better way to experience Ghost of Tsushima. An engaging new story chapter will give new players even more insight into Jin and PS5 enhancements improve the entire adventure, which itself was already a technical marvel on last-gen consoles. Sony’s experiment into re-releasing last-gen games on the new consoles with meaningful additions is so far paying off.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS5. For more information, please read our Review Policy.

  • Iki Island narrative explores new more personal facets of Jin's internal conflicts
  • Some fun new gameplay twists and surprises on Iki
  • Immersive PS5 enhancements like haptic feedback, higher resolution and frame rate, and 3D audio
  • Easy to transfer your PS4 save and continue
  • Iki Island narrative could have been better explored as an entire sequel