Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is an update to an already great game by Sucker Punch. It is an open-world samurai game set in the late 13th century where you need to try and fight back a huge Mongol invasion of your homeland. Initially, it isn’t pretty as the bigger, better equipped Mongol Empire devastate the Samurai in a big battle. Eventually, it falls on your shoulders to not only take your home back but drive out the Mongols in the process and make them never want to return.
As soon as you start Ghost of Tsushima you will be immediately amazed at just how great this game looks. The development team over at Sucker Punch really did an amazing job creating the environment, the sounds, and populating the world with a number of interesting items that you want to explore. There is of course the main storyline quests but there are a plethora of side quests waiting to be found and completed as well. Then there are other optional things you can track down such as the fox dens, the hot springs, different settlements and survivor camps, towns, shrines, pillars, and more. There is quite a bit here that will keep you busy for a long time if you are someone who is a completionist and needs to try and see everything a game has to offer. The way they guide you to some of these areas is interesting as well. Instead of putting a marker on the screen or a waypoint, they use gusts of wind. If you say you want to go to a settlement that is 500 meters away, you can click on that in the world map, and then when you get back to the game there will be a strong gust of wind that heads in the direction that you need to go to get to that destination you just selected. It actually works really well and isn’t as obtrusive as some titles can be when they are trying to lead you somewhere.
Ghost of Tsushima has a number of different ways that you can play. You can play as a Samurai and try to follow the code as closely as possible, taking on all comers, and winning fights against enemies that are trying to kill you. If you prefer an approach that utilizes more stealth, you can try and hide in the shadows and in the tall grass and eliminate an enemy before he even knows you are by assassinating them. As far as the story goes this method goes strictly against the Samurai code, however, you are free to play however you wish. The good thing is you aren’t locked into any kind of path here so if you want to clear a fort utilizing stealth and then just go into the next one and openly challenge an enemy to a duel, you can. There are different stances that you will learn in the game that will help with different situations. For example, there is the Stone Stance that proves effective against Swordsmen, while a Wind Stance will prove to be the most effective against Spearmen. The combat in Ghost of Tsushima flows really well and if you can get into a nice rhythm, you will be able to take out groups of enemies with some style. Going through this on the Normal difficulty there were definitely some big fights that presented a really good challenge. You need to be adept at how everything works to really be successful, knowing when to be aggressive, when to play a bit more defense, when to try and parry, and much more. It is a great system that allows for some nice variety and allows you to change things on the fly in case you find yourself in trouble and you need to change up your strategy.
With so many things to do in the game I was happy to see how the development team organized everything with the menus. It helped my overall experience because I was able to find what I needed quickly. All of your quest-related information is located in your journal. Here you can find the main storyline quests, the side quests that you have unlocked, different tales you might want to investigate, and more. You can pick one to track, have the map show you where you need to be, and be off to your next adventure quickly. This works so much better than just placing all of the icons on a map and trying to search for the one you want (which you can still do if you want). This is also where you will find quest information for the Iki Island expansion once you gain access to that.
In addition to all of the quest information, there are a few different skill trees that you will want to pay attention to as you progress through the game. The way this works is pretty standard as you gain experience by completing quests and doing some other optional things in the world. Once you earn a technique point, you use it to unlock something. Since I chose to be a bit more stealthy during my playthrough, I first picked the techniques that would help out with that. One of those was the assassination technique and trying to build my character up so that he could quickly and efficiently take someone out without being noticed. My favorite of this group was being able to chain assassinate up to three people so if I could sneak up on three guys at a campfire, for example, I could eliminate them within a few seconds in a quick but brutal fashion. If you want to be more action-oriented and be in your enemy’s face a bit more, you can work on something like the standoff streak as well. This increases your potential streak in a duel so not only will you have the opportunity to eliminate your first opponent, another one will immediately charge you after that first duel and you can get rid of him just as quickly. Similar to being able to do a chain assassination like I mentioned above, this is a great way to get rid of a few guys really quickly as long as your timing is accurate.
I’ve talked about how you can kind of customize your combat style and how you approach everything from a gameplay standpoint, but there are also other things for you to think about. As you progress in the world you will receive supplies, in addition to the experience I mentioned up above. These supplies can be used to strengthen your weapons, get you some more powerful armor, increase your ammo capacity for certain weapons, and more. There is also the outfit that you wear which can have an impact on your overall character. The armor that I chose to wear for a good part of the game gave me a major increase to melee damage and a massive increase to my health. It also increased that standoff streak I mentioned by two. Another piece of armor that I used early on in the game was the Traveler’s Attire. This one helped track artifacts using that wind I talked about earlier. It also cleared 30% more fog off of the map when I was exploring and then the controller would vibrate within 30 feet of an Artifact. As you can see, different gear will give you different advantages and it is up to you to choose what you want to wear and how you want to utilize it.
If you are someone that enjoys collectibles in games you are definitely going to have fun here. There are different ways to find these collectibles as well which I appreciated so I didn’t get bored trying to find everything. One way to find something important is to always follow the gold bird. If you are running across the environment and all of a sudden a gold bird appears in front of you, follow that bird. He will take you to a location you probably haven’t been to before that will have some significance. It might be a hot spring that increases your maximum health, a bamboo exercise that will raise your stats in another way or whatever the case may be. While exploring the world you will also come across some fox dens. When that happens you will find a fox and he will want you to follow him. When you do you he will take you to a shrine to pay your respects. Once you do that you fill up a meter and are on your way to unlocking a new item. Sometimes the fox will hang around for a few moments as well once you pay your respects and you will be able to pet him and play with him for a few seconds. It is really cool and the foxes are incredibly cute as they roll over to get a belly scratch.
I haven’t mentioned a whole lot about the story for spoiler reasons but it is one I really enjoyed. It is a drama about trying to take your homeland back from foreign invaders with some nice twists and turns to keep you guessing. The story isn’t groundbreaking or anything but it does a great job injecting emotion into the situation when needed, whether it is being sad because of a heinous act the Mongols committed or excited as you anticipate the next big battle. Everything seemed to flow really well in my opinion and the cast of characters is great. In my opinion, you will want to try and take the time to go through as many of the optional side quests as you can in addition to the main storyline. This will get you to know characters much better than you otherwise would as you learn about their motivation and why they have decided to join your cause.
In addition to the impressive graphical fidelity of the game, the audio also adds another great layer to it. The song that is playing during an intense showdown helps add to the overall experience, as does that giant gust of wind that you can hear to help steer you in the direction you need to be going for your current quest. The rustling of the leaves on the trees and just in general the environmental sounds, help immerse you in the world of Tsushima. I also enjoyed the voice acting from the cast and thought the attention to detail was great and that everyone did a really great job here.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is a very impressive achievement from Sucker Punch. The PS5 version takes advantage of the hardware with almost no loading times, a smoother framerate, DualSense support, and more. The PS5 helps to elevate an already great experience. If you have been on the fence about this game, be sure to pick it up. If you enjoy open-world games, be sure to pick up Ghost of Tsushima. It is a tremendous amount of fun getting lost in the vibrant world of the Samurai.
Originally posted on Gaming Target
Note: Sony provided us with a code for Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut for review purposes.