Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is a difficult release to parse at first glance. Essentially it’s the main game bundled with some PS5-specific enhancements and a fairly substantive DLC with a new story to tell on a new island. The most confusing element is the upgrade paths for those who own the PS4 version of the game. There is a cost to upgrade to the PS5 version, and another cost to then upgrade to the Director’s Cut version. I tried and failed to find solid information about this (the PSN page lists the price in pounds), but from what I gather it could cost you around $40 AUD to upgrade from the base PS4 version to the Director’s Cut on PS5.
More on the Iki Island expansion later, but for now let’s get into the additions that take advantage of the PS5 hardware. There are two visual modes, one that prioritises resolution and one that prioritises frame rate. However, the high-resolution mode never (or very rarely) dipped below 60fps so it doesn’t seem like there’s any real purpose for the high frame rate mode. The PS4 Pro version of the game ran at 1800p with checkerboard rendering whereas this version is running at 2160p with checkerboarding. Load times are now incredibly brief, capping out at around three seconds, tops.
This bump in resolution and frame rate makes an already stunning game even more of a visual treat. The original version used a huge amount of wind-based effects in the grass, trees, leaves, sparks, all of which look doubly incredible here. The combat is similarly improved by the higher frame rate, with Jin slicing and dicing more smoothly than ever. That said, beyond the resolution and frame rate, there aren’t any other visual improvements to speak of. Shadow resolution and level of detail pop-in remain the same as the PS4 version, for example. Compared to the likes of the PS5 re-releases of Final Fantasy VII: Remake and Spider-Man: Remastered, it feels somewhat lacking for the price point.
All of the cutscenes are now rendered in real-time on PS5 (still capped at 30fps, which was probably a stylistic decision), the PS4 version had pre-rendered cutscenes that were used to disguise load times. Making these real-time means Sucker Punch was able to implement lip-syncing when using the Japanese voice track, something that was sorely missing from the original version of the game. They’ve also allowed the game to take advantage of the DualSense haptics and adaptive triggers, which work about as you would expect at this point. You feel tension when pulling back on Jin’s bow, individual hoofs hitting the dirt as you ride your horse, and the direction the wind is blowing. Nothing to write home about, but a welcome addition nonetheless.
If you already played some or all of the PS4 version of the game, transferring your save is a simple and brief process begun by selecting the relevant option on the main menu. There’s no need to download and boot both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game in order to transfer your save across (looking at you Final Fantasy VII: Remake).
The new content takes place on Iki Island off the east coast of Tsushima and becomes available after you complete Act 2 of the main game’s story. It’s a decent length, taking me around 15 hours to 100% complete everything new. The story is centered around a particular Mongolian tribe led by someone called The Eagle, who utilises a psychotropic poison to mentally break their enemies. Iki Island is also where Jin witnessed the death of his father as a young boy and so, as you might expect from such a premise, there is a lot of introspection and grappling with the past.
It’s undoubtedly more of what made the base game so enjoyable, but there is enough new here to make it worth checking out. There are new side activities like archery challenges and cat sanctuaries to complete, armour variants to find, and even a couple of unique abilities. Rather than being a pointless offshoot of the main narrative, the story of Iki Island is compelling and fleshes out Jin and the relationship he had with his father.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is undoubtedly the best way to experience this game, whether you already played through it on PS4 or if you’re looking for something to play on your chunky new PS5. It’s a beautiful game with fluid combat, a decent story, and plenty of side activities to keep you busy. The list of technical improvements on PS5 may be short, but the higher resolution, 60fps, and lightning-fast load times are nothing to sniff at. The new Iki Island may, for the most part, be more of the same, but it’s a welcome victory lap.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by Sony.