When Ghost of Tsushima launched last year, I genuinely thought games couldn’t look any better. Here was a game with lush scenery, individual blades of grass blowing in the wind, and picture-perfect faces that escaped the uncanny valley. This is it, I thought. This is what other games should strive for. But now that I’ve played Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, I know games are capable of so much more.
For the uninitiated, the Director’s Cut version of the game is an expanded and enhanced version of the original samurai epic, with some key additions. As well as a visual overhaul for PS4 and PS5 users, it also features a brand new quest on Iki Island, plus some PS5-exclusive enhancements.
On PS5, the biggest changes include new haptics when when you pull bow strings or throw grappling hooks, and improvements to the game’s already-impressive graphics.
If you thought the game looked good the first time around, honestly, prepare to be stunned by its next gen update. While you will have to fork out extra for the upgrade, I can say it’s absolutely worth it.
The first thing I noticed when playing the Director’s Cut was the grass. Each blade was slim and refined, flowing with the wind and spreading around Jin’s feet as he stomped through paddocks and forests. Jin’s feet left imprints in the mud; even the leaves from trees in the Director’s Cut have visible veins and distinct textures.
Foliage is shiny and life-like, footprints stay firmly embedded in the ground. Slashes of blood are slimy, sticky and stomach-churning. Are these features essential for a great game? Absolutely not. But they add a thick layer of photorealism that makes travelling through Ghost of Tsushima again so much more worthwhile.
The inclusion of Iki Island also gives the game a real sense of freshness, with plenty of new scenery to explore, friends to make and challenges to overcome. Whether you’ve finished the game or not, you’ll be able to travel by boat to the island straight away and begin exploring its vast terrain.
Here, you’ll uncover the secrets of Jin’s family and come under fire from the vengeful Mongols. To get too much into the story is to spoil the central conceit of the Iki Island chapter, but suffice to say it’s a very intriguing plot line buoyed by a new hallucination-based mechanic which can alter the way Jin sees the world.
Away from the game’s main story, you’ll find a beautiful new locale unlike anything in the mainland of Ghost of Tsushima. Here, water laps at the rocks of lonely beaches, and wild monkeys and cats roam fields filled with flowers of all colours.
Sure, there’s plenty of roaming Mongols to destroy the solitude, but in the moments between great battles and cross-family conflicts, you’ll find a deep sense of peace on the Island. You can stop and watch the breeze rustling the trees, and see how the flowers sway. You can watch a river splash past between your feet, or even sit down at a nearby shrine and pet some friendly cats after you charm them with a flute.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut doesn’t really change the game’s formula all that much, but if you enjoyed the original, you’ll love what you see here. Every little detail is enhanced on the PS5, and it all comes together in one beautiful package.
The example I’d use to show off the power of the game on PS5 is an odd one, but it’s the detail that stuck out to me most:
As I was taking a screenshot of the light reflecting across a particular river at night, I accidentally pushed my view up too far and found this bird sitting high above Jin in the landscape. Ordinarily, the bird would appear as a speck overhead, and no player would ever see this kind of detail up close.
While it’s not as detailed as the scenery behind it, it’s still very rare for background animals to be given this much attention.
It flapped and flew around as you’d expect a bird to, and in that motion I could see individual ruffled feathers, well-lit eyes and tiny bird claws, all rendered in impressive detail. For a model that few people would ever see, the attention here is stunning.
And that kind of detail is reflected everywhere you look.
The game’s enhancements make environments look photorealistic. It make faces look more natural, and means the lip sync looks great. The word ‘immersive’ is often overused when describing games, but if any game deserve it, it’s this one.
From the moment I stepped into Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, I knew it was going to be special — but I was too reserved in my initial feelings.
This version of the game really is something else, and it’s got me very, very excited for the future of gaming.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut launches for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on August 20, 2021.