Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is in an unusual location because it is both a current generation upgrade and a ship for a whole new addition. It plays two different roles, but they are intertwined as Sony insists on bringing the two together. And while it’s not a huge step up for those who play the original on PlayStation 5, the Iki Island expansion is the main highlight here as it’s a phenomenal companion piece to the main game.

The Iki Island DLC intervenes directly in the core experience and is accessible shortly after the start of the second act. Since it can be played at different points in the campaign, it may sound like an unimportant story at first. If a story thread is such a big deal, then how can it be casually strung around?

The Iki Island narrative elegantly parries this concern, then cuts it into ribbons by focusing more thoughtfully on the backstory of Jin Sakai rather than trying to pull a new thread that unnaturally attaches itself to the original’s story. This approach gives Sucker Punch a free hand to concretize his protagonist without sacrificing the sanctity and pace of the narrative of the base game.

Jin’s character is blown through the air by Iki’s great evil, the eagle. She is a twisted shaman who, with her hordes of loyal guards and hallucinogenic poison, threatens to conquer the island of Iki. After imposing this infernal brew on Jin, his inner demons take on an outward form that makes this more than just another Mongol invasion.

While ordering the Mongolian forces to physically attack Jin, she also uses her brew as a means to attack Jin on a spiritual level, made even more intense by the environment itself. Jin has a personal connection with Iki Island as it is a place of great shame and failure for the people. represents Spirit of Tsushima long before he earned that nickname. Visiting this island again is already traumatic for Jin, and that trauma is amplified exponentially by the eagle’s calculated mental guerrilla warfare.

Great antagonists test the protagonist and force him to change and that is exactly what the eagle does. Her multi-pronged attack on Jin puts him in a situation where he must adapt in order to overcome. Growth is inevitable as it is the key to victory, and Jin’s personal journey during enlargement is fascinating because it is placed at the forefront of the experience and so thoroughly explored. Going through ghostly apparitions of a character’s most painful moments may not be the latest idea in gaming, but it’s contextualized well enough by the eagle’s hallucinogenic drink to overcome its lack of originality.

But there are other factors that are forcing Jin to change as Iki Island is not a welcoming place for samurai. The indigenous people are hostile to samurai as past invasions have driven quite a wedge between the two factions. Jin’s family also has a dark past directly linked to these invasions that the locals don’t like to sweep under the rug despite the current Mongol invasion. This dark past brings up issues of guilt, forgiveness, negligent parents, family sins, breaking harmful cycles, and more, and it is all directly related to the aforementioned personal journey that Jin is being forced to take.

And since it’s more personal, this DLC gives players a more introspective look at Jin’s character as he delves deeper into his making. It expands flashbacks or previously mentioned parts of the main game so that it doesn’t feel like Sucker Punch coincidentally made up the backstory with hindsight. the seed was already sown. Given that this expansion sheds a different light on these past events, Iki Island shares some striking similarities The last of usLeft behind because both of course fit into the core game, but also further humanize their protagonists and faithfully breathe a little more nuances into them.

The strongest narrative feature of Iki Island is the way in which all of these different aspects are wonderfully woven together into a cohesive whole. Jin’s internal struggles are linked to the besieged island, which is linked to his family, which is also linked to his internal struggles. It’s all interrelated, and while there are shocking twists and turns and palpable tensions along the way that make for an engaging basic plot, the narrative’s ability to meaningfully combine – and do so gracefully – its myriad of ideas is remarkable.

This doesn’t just apply to the main missions. Jin is often confronted with the horrors of his legacy with the many side objectives and activities scattered across the island. Playing a flute for some cats brings up relevant stories about his parents. An orphan who is gathering supplies to build a house makes Jin reflect on his story with the island. The locals and the many missions that go with them are there to blend organically into the overall themes of the DLC, and that level of detail, quality, and consistency is almost entirely lacking in most of the other open-world games that feature unrelated filler material are bloated to meet some arbitrary content quota.

Iki Island also gives Jin the potential to grow physically. While the excellent gameplay systems remain the same, there are a few new armor sets, cosmetics, and skills that expand Jin’s repertoire. Many of the existing enemy types and missions make the jump with some slight tweaking here and there too. For example, cat shelters are similar to the fox dens in the main game but are a little cuter and the new Shaman Enemy reinforcing its allies adds another level of enemy prioritization to the fight. The few additional boss fights are just as tense as those in the main game and remain a satisfactory test of skill. It’s still noticeable Spirit of Tsushima and is unchanged in many ways, but it still works exceptionally well.

It’s also still recognizable Spirit of Tsushima if it was played on PlayStation 5. It was one of the lucky PS4 games that was blessed with expanded backward compatibility functionality on the PS5 as it saw an increase in frame rate and resolution when played on new hardware. This proven functionality makes the Director’s Cut a little more difficult to justify, since the jump to new hardware is no longer noticeable as immediately as in the time Spider Man or Metro exodus.

However, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut It still looks absolutely awesome either way, thanks to an art style developed as the best showcase for HDR. Saturated environments are bathed in remarkable colors that only look better at this higher resolution and at around 60 frames per second. It’s an absolutely remarkable amalgamation of a vibrant art style and technical skill that Spirit of Tsushima one of the most visually appealing games.

Director’s Cut also comes with a few free upgrades for everyone Spirit of Tsushima Owner. While it’s worth hiding the quiver in photo mode and using more alternate control schemes, locking during combat is a game changer. It is now much easier to hit targets and smell or attack the wrong person; a seemingly small supplement with powerful positive effects.

Spirit of TsushimaThe native PS5 version also offers a handful of exclusive features. Adaptive Trigger Assist is functional when it’s not exciting, as it braces itself when firing the bow or pulling down structures with the grappling hook. The haptic feedback is more noticeable as it wobbles constantly for either gameplay or movie purposes. It’s generally well done whether it rumbles appropriately when petting a cat or when it jerks to emphasize a booming title card. And while loading times were pretty fast on the PS4, the game almost never takes more than a few seconds to get started on the PS5.

Japanese lip-syncing is the only new feature that doesn’t fully realize its potential. While it strengthens the case for playing the game in your native language, the lip valves are usually not accurate. They are often close enough to work, but not good enough to make that argument definitively. Many of the scenes are wide-angle shots and players may not notice every detail of the face as they are likely to be reading the subtitles, but that additional shot is still not as precise as it should be.

Regardless of that little nitpick, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is still an unforgettable experience that only enhances the incredible base game. The suite of free and paid upgrades is nice, but the Iki Island expansion is a great example of how DLC should be made. It expands Jin’s character and the world meaningfully, while also being a meaty experience that respects the player’s time. While the ticket price back to Tsushima may vary for some, the Iki Island detour is well worth the boat ride.