A year on since the release of Suckerpunch Publication's earth-shattering Ghost of Tsushima comes an expansion: a Director's Cut. Electric Games look back at the masterful original game to prepare for the expansions August 20th release.
It is not often that you could describe a game as breath-taking and sincerely mean it in every sense of the word, yet even the term breath-taking might be an understatement for Suckerpunch’s Ghost of Tsushima publication. A game I would compare in quality to that of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Ghost of Tsushima celebrated its first birthday a week or so back, and perhaps the greatest gift it received was the utter lack of criticism it has garnered during its lifespan. Sure, some people will find something wrong with the PlayStation exclusive title, but many of those disapproving comments are often tenuous in nature. The vast majority, on the other hand, are in the same boat as me – they absolutely love this game, and for those who idolose the game I have good news: a tantalising Director’s Cut of the game is set to arrive on the 20th August 2021! Read on to find out more!
Whether you are galloping through fields of snow, stealth crawling through burnt forests, strutting, as a ghost does, through presaging mist towards an enemy camp or ambling whilst admiring one of those Tsushima sunsets, the game is in all areas an utterly gorgeous campaign. Better yet is the fact that, at least contextually, Ghost of Tsushima is based on genuine historic events whilst giving authentic credence and realistic appreciation to many aspects of the Japanese culture. As you play, it is difficult not to become besotted with the halcyon feel of the games’ landscape when it is so intertwined with the games’ rendition of the Tsushima community. To hammer this home further, an update as of last month has incorporated well-designed Japanese lip-syncing, further creating an authentic atmosphere in keeping with the time.
What is the context of the game?
We, as Jin Sakai, a Samurai warrior, enter the world of Tsushima in 1274 as the Mongol forces are attempting to overrun the Japanese empire. Jin is on the receiving end of a good beating from a Mongol leader named Khotun Khan, leaving Jin on the cusp of death. Well, it would be a bit disappointing if the story ends there; Jin returns as a revenant of sorts, earning the titular endowment of the ‘Ghost’ through his mysterious skirmishes with the Mongols. Jin utilises some seriously silky katana-based combat loops capable of slicing up enemies like a watermelon as he progresses throughout the open world of Tsushima, eventually developing into an absolute tank of a Samurai warrior. Put it this way: I felt intimidated even playing as the Ghost despite him being on my side, despite my controlling him. Seemingly gliding from environment to environment on horseback, the main quest-line is infused with numerous side quests, giving at least 25 hours of solid play time if you were to really power through it. Yet I think this frenetic rush to conclude is wasteful; there is so much to do and see, so much to treasure as you explore Tsushima – take your time to do so!
How does the combat feel?
The Ghost of Tsushima game title initially attracted some criticism due to the unorthodox feel of its combat, but I would again compare this to other related games: attacking mechanics often just take some time to get used to. More, when Jin’s offensive capabilities are improved I found attacking to be, as progression rightly should be, even more rewarding as the game goes on. Counter-attacking and parrying defences are included in this principle; they are designed not to be overly simplistic, but they do become near-effortless, and thoroughly enjoyable, once mastered. I mean, we are a Samurai warrior resisting the mighty Mongols – things are not meant to be a walk in the park for us, no matter if we are indeed a ghost or not. The fact that Suckerpunch precluded the inclusion of lock-on offensive features for a good year after the games’ release further serves to prove that combat gameplay is intended to be a challenge. Otherwise, Jin can also employ a bow and arrow, throw bombs and wield a smaller sword-going-on-knife called a Tanto, which you will no doubt be familiar with if you are into your Japanese history. Combat in the game is diverse and at regular intervals extraordinarily satisfying, especially in mob-attacks and ruthless slow-motion executions - it’s gruesome but oh so wonderful. As aforementioned, it may take a few hours of gameplay in order to fully acclimatise with the Ghost’s combat style, but with a few armour and weapon upgrades, some earned variations in combat stances and some handy dexterity, going on the offensive in Ghost of Tsushima is likely to be as enriching as any game you will have played. Regardless, as Lord Shimura told us in the trailer to the game back in 2019, you must first control your emotions to master the blade.
What else does gameplay entail?
OK – Ghost of Tsushima is not about hunting, and it doesn’t consistently encourage you to do so, but at least you can hunt. In other times, we can collect supplies from various locations, including our inevitably fallen enemies. Talk about kicking a man when he is down, Jin! Gamers can also choose to indulge in upgrading Jin and his abilities, purchasing techniques like Perfect Parry and Iron Will in order to keep the Ghost in fighting fitness. On top of Skill Points, we are also able to upgrade our weapons and armour sets so as to optimise our combat efficiency, serving further to provide leniency to those not so confident in offensive manoeuvres. Speaking of variety in play styles, Ghost of Tsushima facilitates the use of stealth modes and attacks if paranormally creeping through the undergrowth floats your boat as it does mine. Alternatively, you can conspicuously run up on some enemies and give them the slice-and-dice treatment – your choice. If the primary campaign has proven too great to handle, you can always take a breather on the free Legends multiplayer expansion, a fantastic gaming mode in its own right that is set to receive a universal update of its own in the near future in conjunction with the release of the Directors Cut.
What is the Director’s Cut?
Speaking of, let’s delve into the Ghost of Tsushima's Director’s Cut. First, some geography: Tsushima lies practically equidistant between the South of Japan and South Korea, whereas the smaller Iki island sits a good deal closer to the Japanese mainland. Guess where the Director’s Cut expansion is set? Hint: It isn’t South Korea. The Iki-Island expansion arrives with a fresh post-credits storyline, new armour to don and techniques to grasp, new enemies to battle and therefore new trophy achievements to be attained. The Ghost returns to clash with a new chief: The Eagle, a Mongol shaman, or medicine woman, who brings an unprecedented style of warfare to Jin’s home-turf, a style we must quickly adapt to or risk truly becoming a ghost. Following in the suit of the main questline, the Director’s Cut expansion maintains the stunning Japanese landscapes and organically lucid environments but gives opportunity to relish anew the overall atmosphere Ghost of Tsushima has to offer. The Director’s Cut is a partial solution to the post-credit blues wherein you take a few minutes to contemplate what happens now – what do we do once we finish a game we have enjoyed so much? In the days following we have a digital hangover, missing the routine escape into the beautiful worlds of games like the Ghost of Tsushima. Well, problem solved (for now) as you can jump back in with topped-up Iki island content or you can simply prolong the beauty of the experience if you are a newcomer to the Ghost of Tsushima hype. If you have a copy of the game already you can upgrade to the Directors Cut at a small cost, yet if you are in possession of neither you can purchase the Directors Cut with us and receive both Ghost of Tsushima packages for reduced prices!
How does the game perform on the PlayStation consoles?
A group of advantages we might take for granted is the technology acting as a pre-requisite to the overall Ghost of Tsushima feel. An example is in load times: the PlayStation 4 excels in this regard, ostensibly dashing through load times for the sake of our convenience, yet the PlayStation 5 is simply the zenith: it doesn’t dash – you can’t even see it – the PlayStation 5 might as well be supersonic. It is so fast. More, the DualSense controller really comes into a league of its own in PlayStation exclusives such as the Ghost of Tsushima, flawlessly recruiting Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Trigger support at just the right time in every instance; you can feel the tension of the bow, you can sense the blow of a parry – the technology is as subtle as it is marvellous. Running in up to 4K in 60FPS, the PlayStation 5 is logically the best way to experience the Ghost of Tsushima’s vivid topography in full, yet the PlayStation 4 delivers surprisingly well in this way too. With an absurd amount of graphical fidelity to process, an insane amount of action to take into account, both PlayStation consoles are at the top of their game when playing Ghost of Tsushima – quite something to behold. To give credit where credit is clearly due, Suckerpunch Publications have produced one of the pinnacles of the gaming world to date through Ghost of Tsushima, an undoubtedly brilliant company, yet Sony’s PlayStation gaming consoles are the mediator, the taxi driver who bring Suckerpunch’s attention-arresting visuals to your doorstep.
If there was a quadruple-A award in the video game industry I would at the drop of a hat place it at the feet of the Ghost of Tsushima, a game that proves to be among the highlights of our collective gaming careers, forging unforgettable fictional experiences, transporting us from a rainy evening at home to a luminescent rose Japanese sunset whilst sporting a Katana. I don’t joke with you when I tell you I stopped to appreciate this game on a by-the-minute basis for the duration it’s campaign, if you are yet to play the Ghost of Tsushima I assure you that you are missing out on one of best examples of what video gaming can offer to date. Get on your horse, brandish your Katana and get your hands on a copy immediately!