WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!
It is no secret that Ghost of Tsushima is my favourite game. The 2020 release just jumped into my heart and after playing it twice, I love it more than ever. What is not to love? Gorgeous visuals, brilliant storytelling, flawless combat….Need I say more?
So naturally I was excited to jump into the Iki Island Expansion with gusto, but I was also keen to see and experience all the PS5 upgrades that came with the Directors Cut. And man…I was not disappointed.
Jin comes across a village that is being attacked by Mongols, and naturally he has to intervene. He then gets rid of the Mongols and discovers that the Village has seemingly been poisoned and that there is a new Mongol threat on the loose on Iki Island, that will spill over to his beloved Tsushima. The bastards he just killed are just scouts.
Quick as a flash, he loads Horsey onto a ship and sets off for Iki Island to face the new threat, knowing he would not be welcomed with open arms, as his family has a dark past with the inhabitants of the island.
I don’t want to spoil too much, so I will leave it there.
The new haptic feedback on the PS5 controller is impressive in this game. My controller became alive in my hands and was especially noticeable when you use your grappling hook to take down obstacles in your way, and even just when riding your horse or shooting your bow. You feel everything, during combat and I can tell you, it made the immersion so much deeper aided of course by the stunning 4K visuals and 60 FPS that the PS5 delivers.
There are also new animals to pet, and fox dens were exchanged for animal sanctuaries, where you play your flute for monkeys, feral cats and deer. By tilting your controller up and down, you have to keep up with the pitch of each song, indicated by green borders that turn red when you go off pitch, and if you succeed you are rewarded by the animals trust, and head rubs.
There were only a few Haiku’s to be composed and of course I tried to make mine make as little sense as possible. LOL.
Broken by rock…
Have a cookie…”
Well, not accurate, but you get the gist.
There are Sakai banners to collect and pillars of memories, where Jin encounters painful memories of his last sojourn to Iki with his father, Kazumasa Sakai. A man much hated for his, as the locals see it, “brutal invasion” of their Island.
There are new Technique Points to earn as well as the new ability for Horsey, which I will discuss in the combat part. New legends with regards to new armour sets can be unlocked an there are three Shrines where you unlock armour skins, which pays homage to three popular PlayStation games, namely Bloodborne, God of War and Shadow of the Colossus. I loved the God of War skin. Made me look oh, so pwetty.
One thing that remained are those damned yellow, winged rats. Still squawking at you at the stupidest times, but at least helping you find some places of interest and activities.
Ghost of Tsushima, has the best and smoothest combat system I’ve ever encountered in a game and the expansion ramps it up a bit.
Although some of it feels a lot more of the same, there is now a Shaman with groups of enemies, which starts a chant as soon as the barney kicks off. Sounding a bit like Axl Rose with a sinus infection, they are the first of the bastards you want to dispose of, as their chanting boosts enemy armour and damage output. Where I never had a problem with surviving an encounter, this time around I found myself fighting for my life.
So kill the one dancing around with a stick in the background and doing a horrible rendition of “Welcome to the Jungle” first. Otherwise your fight is going to be long and very difficult.
You will also encounter a jack of all trades type enemy, who swops between swords, spears and shields all the time, forcing you to switch stances the whole time. The two main enemy bosses also does this, to keep you on your toes.
A quest where you have to find your horse, who got lost when you got shipwrecked, will open up a whole new technique tree, with what I like to call, Horsey Bash. Basically you point your horsey at a group of closely bunched up enemies, hold L1 while galloping and bash them all to hell.
There is a side quest, where you have to find Jin’s fathers, horse armour, which makes the Horsey Bash even more deadly, and looks majestic AF. Collecting Sakai banners will unlock new colour schemes for your horse armour.
Standoffs are still a thing, but I just rode through the enemies I encountered.
The story deals mainly, except for ridding Iki Island of the Eagle Tribe of Mongols, with Jin coming to grips with the death of his father, and who his father really was. He also encounters a very hostile population on the island. People remembering Kazumasa in a very different light to what Jin recalls.
The distrust for Samurai runs deep on Iki as it comes to light that the Sakai Clan committed war crimes on the Island, earning Jin’s father the nickname of The Butcher.
Jin gets a lot of lip from the populace, and has to go to great lengths to prove himself and his pure intentions.
I’m not going to divulge too much here and spoil things. Play the damn game.
What I didn’t like
The only thing, except for those yellow squawking rats, that I don’t like about the expansion and the main game is the fact that the fog of war on the map opens ever so slowly. You have to travel all over the show to open up the map.
You can of, of course, just clear Mongol Camps to clear the map, but first you have to find them.
The upside is that you are sort of forced to explore, which is something I love to do. I like to clear the map first, do all the side quests and then tackle the main storyline.
I loved the expansion. I really did. But then my bias with this game runs very deep.
It’s beautiful, gameplay is graceful, the Japanese culture and lore so deep and the story is just awesome.
There is really nothing bad I can say about this game. I loved every second and couldn’t get enough of Iki Island.
I really hope you find as much joy in it as I did.
Last Updated: August 24, 2021