2020’s Ghost of Tsushima capped off PlayStation 4’s outstanding line-up of exclusives; we really liked it. Soon after its launch, developer Sucker Punch added the addicting Legends multiplayer mode for players to delve in after completing the story. Now, they are also continuing Jin Sakai’s story through the Iki Island expansion, which comes as part of Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut.
Available as soon as you reach Act 2 of the story campaign, the expansion brings Jin to the brand-new area of Iki Island. With more discoveries to find and Mongols to cut down, the Iki Island expansion brings additional joy for players as they return to the
To the shores of Iki
The expansion begins when Jin comes into contact with a village community that has been decimated by an unknown poison that renders them insane. Learning that Mongols occupying the nearby Iki Island are behind it and are preparing for an invasion of Tsushima soon, the situation prompts him to travel to the place to take care of the problem before they arrive.
Iki Island presents a whole new playground for players to explore. The actual geography and activities aren’t much different from the main game. The island still provides vast open fields with gorgeous vistas to bask in as well as hidden areas with secrets to uncover that you’ll likely need to climb around, and the hot springs, haiku spots, bamboo challenges all make a reappearance within the expansion.
But there are new things to discover on the island, one being the animal sanctuaries. Scattered across the map are areas inhabited by a specific animal group, like monkeys or cats. You can whip out your flute to charm them into being friendly with you, entering into a minigame that makes use of the motion controls in the controller. Of course, being able to pet these creatures is a reward unto itself, but completing these sanctuaries also gives charms that power up as you find more of them to tame.
Archery challenges also provide a great way to hone your skills with the bow. You’re tasked with shooting down lanterns placed all-around a single area, and it makes clever use of the time slowdown from concentration mode as well as fast and accurate shooting to obtain a good timing for the challenge.
Ghosts from the past
Exploring Iki Island isn’t without its obstacles. Standing in Jin’s way are the Mongols, led by The Eagle, a woman who has poisoned much of the island’s inhabitants with her mysterious concoction. Early on, Jin too comes face to face with The Eagle and unfortunately ingests the poison as well; the outcome is not pretty.
As a result of the effects of the poison, Jin begins to hallucinate The Eagle throughout the game. Whenever players are exploring the island, The Eagle pops in at certain points to taunt Jin. This makes The Eagle a different foe compared to the main game’s Khotun Khan; she’s a more active presence during your time on Iki Island, repeatedly gnawing away at Jin’s sanity at every instance available.
The Eagle’s taunts are made more effective considering the significance of Iki Island to Jin. It is the same place where his father felled years ago, touched upon in the main story. Now, the expansion delves deeper into what happened during that period of time when the two were on the island.
Not only does The Eagle take great pleasure in mocking Jin over it, but the people of Iki are also resentful of both the samurai and Sakai name due to his father’s exploits. Both the main story and side missions shine a light on the atrocities that previously happened. And Jin has to overcome the adversity from both of these aspects.
Jin’s guilt over his failure to prevent his father’s demise also stands at the forefront of his journey back on Iki Island. Scattered throughout the island are places that hold memories of the past for Jin. Interacting with them brings up flashback sequences that give more insight into Jin’s time accompanying his father’s army on the island. It’s much-needed context on the duo’s relationship, and the additional backstory further elevates Jin as a character.
New missions, abilities and enemies
Beyond the main missions for Iki Island, side missions are also available around the map to provide a distraction from the story. A lot of it is similar to what can be found in Tsushima, usually relating to the disposal of Mongols within the area. However, some aren’t explicitly marked on the map — you’ll need to organically encounter them while out and about in the world. It’s a nice subtle addition that encourages exploration.
A couple of Mythic Tales missions are in the expansion too, and they again provide nifty rewards for players, even for someone like me who has maxed out Jin character stats. Of course, Jin isn’t the only one with improvements, with his horse also learning a new charging move early in the game that tramples enemies when out in the world, helping to lower their numbers before going into combat.
All of this certainly helps against the Mongols as now, they are slightly more troublesome to deal with. In addition, Mongol groups now have a Shaman that chants to make them even more challenging to topple during combat. Duels also make a return, and there’s even a tournament available later in the expansion that lets you duel against people with different fighting styles. Each combatant requires a different strategy, and it provides a decent level of challenge overall.
PlayStation 5 functionality
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut also makes its way natively to PS5, with exclusive features for the system. The most major one is lip-syncing for the Japanese voiceover; the original game notoriously did not have it, and now with the PS5 being able to render cutscenes in real-time, it can do so. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers features from DualSense have also been adapted into the game. Things like riding your horse now give off unique feedback with every step depending on the surface Jin is on, and bows now elicit the feel of tension whenever you pull back.
For performance, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is able to output a 4K resolution while running at a silky 60fps, and the fast SSD now ostensibly removes any load time in the game — I never saw a single loading screen during my playtime.
Whether these features are enough to justify the extra cost on PS5 is up for debate. Personally, the original game was already so well-optimised that most of these features aren’t necessary. For example, PS5 already runs the resolution mode for the PS4 version at 60fps and has minimal load times.
Still, the Iki Island expansion is well worth the price of admission. It’s more of the same from the main game, but that isn’t a bad thing at all. The new activities provided by the expansion are also a great joy to go through. Still, most importantly, the additional story into Jin’s past is an emotional ride that further encapsulates his character’s journey.
Whether you are continuing the game from PS4 or starting it up from PS5, Iki Island is a place worth exploring.
Screenshots were taken on a PlayStation 5, with additional visuals courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment.