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Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut PC Review: A Cut Above the Rest


Just around the time expansive open-world games had decidedly started showing signs of fatigue, Ghost of Tsushima arrived like a summer breeze. Sucker Punch’s Japan-set action-adventure game didn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but it reshaped player interaction with familiar open-world tropes in inventive ways to deliver a memorable samurai story. Ghost of Tsushima and its resounding success on PlayStation consoles showed that the open-world playbook — largely written by Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series of games — had gotten so stale that small but clever new ideas were enough to engender a meaningful experience.

Through its pared back quest design, its diegetic approach to map markers, and its evocative visuals and music, Ghost of Tsushima set the bar for what a modern open-world action-adventure title should be. Now, the game arrives on PC in a package that amplifies what it already did well on PS4 and PS5. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, first released on PlayStation consoles in 2021 and now available on PC via Steam and Epic Games Store, comes with the Iki Island expansion, a graphical facelift, and better framerates, among other improvements. But can a four-year-old game still hold up to fast-changing modern video game standards?

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The answer to that question might vary depending upon your open-world mileage. If you’ve had your fill of running around a seemingly interminable map, chasing down repetitious objectives without any true payoff, then Ghost of Tsushima may feel a tedious prospect, especially if you’ve tried out the game on consoles. But, if you’re new to the experience, then Sucker Punch’s tale of stirring vengeance and samurai honor, ported expertly to PC by Nixxes Software, is definitely worth your attention. I platinumed Ghost of Tsushima on the PS4, played the Director’s Cut version and its included Iki Island expansion on the PS5, and still found myself willfully and gladly sinking time in the Steam release of the game.

Ghost of Tsushima tells the story of Jin Sakai, a samurai thrown on to the path of revenge when a ferocious Mongol army, led by Kotun Khan, invades his home, the Japanese island of Tsushima. Khan and his unsparing warriors stamp out the samurai resistance, raze down villages, and capture Lord Shimura, Jin’s uncle and the jito of Tsushima. Jin, a young samurai who grew up as a ward of Lord Shimura after his father was killed at an early age, barely survives the battle, but is driven to find his uncle and save Tsushima. Battered and bound by the samurai code of honor, Jin eventually, with the help of his allies, takes up guerilla tactics to gain an advantage over a brutal enemy. After all, the samurai tradition of taking your foes head on in righteous combat can only go so far against a Mongol army that has no qualms about employing every dirty trick in the book to seize control.

Ghost of Tsushima begins with the Mongol army invading the island
Photo Credit: Sucker Punch/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

Jin begrudgingly abandons his code, drilled into him by his uncle, to become the Ghost, a warrior who takes on the art of deception, distraction, and stealth to push back against the Mongol invasion and free his uncle. His unconventional methods are aided by unconventional friends — common folk far removed from the constraints of straight-jacket samurai morality. Jin, who lived all his life in black and white, walks the grey path for his higher cause. Ghost of Tsushima’s story, just like its systems, treads familiar grounds. We’ve all seen and read the revenge tale where the protagonist is confronted with the rigidity of their values and forced to think in ways unnatural to them. But the game’s polished presentation of its ideas triumphs over its reliance on tried and tested tropes.

Visual presentation

Ghost of Tsushima’s biggest promise on PC is its graphical fidelity. The action-adventure title remains one of the best-looking games on PlayStation. With the new PC port, the game’s visual presentation shines in ways not possible on consoles. If you have the right system, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut can go toe-to-toe with the most graphically striking games on PC. While its character models and facial animations look a bit dated in 2024, its lush and diverse environments are still some of the best in the medium.

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Ghost of Tsushima features some of the most striking environments in video games
Photo Credit: Sucker Punch/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

Animation quality in general, however, maintains a high bar. Jin controls smoothly, whether you’re riding his trusted horse or scaling tall cliffs and towers with the help of his grappling hook. Combat animations are perhaps some of the best seen in third-person action-adventure titles. Each sword stance comes with unique animations and move sets that add distinction to your playing style. Jin’s moves with the Katana, animated with the help of actual Japanese sword experts, flow like a river of deadly slashes and stabs, all the while retaining the weight and impact of a high stakes duel.

On PC, Tsushima Island comes alive on higher graphical settings. Contrary to other open-world games, where persistent markers and HUD elements actively break your immersion, Ghost of Tsushima encourages you to interact with its natural environment to uncover interesting items and treasures. Running after foxes or chasing golden birds across quiet meadows and rolling grasslands becomes a meditative experience, especially since it all looks so good. The game’s evocative visuals are helped by its vibrant art style that finds a sweet spot somewhere between the natural realism of Red Dead Redemption 2 and saturated fantasy of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Ghost of Tsushima never tries to look real, opting instead for poetic romanticism for its visual identity.

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Your horse is the best way to get around Tsushima
Photo Credit: Sucker Punch/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

PC features

Nixxes have also prioritised performance across a wide spectrum of hardware capabilities, from high-end PCs to handheld gaming devices like the Steam Deck. The game comes with unlocked framerates and a deep suite of graphics options on PC that can be tweaked to get to your desired performance and image quality. You also get the option to boost the game’s performance with support for upscaling and frame generation technologies like Nvidia DLSS 3, AMD FSR 3, and Intel XeSS. Unfortunately, Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t come with any ray-tracing support. Including ray-traced reflections could have thrown up technical challenges and affected the performance of the game, but the feature should be expected in a modern PC title that boasts striking visuals.

The game does support ultra-wide monitor setups and the PS5 DualSense controller on PC. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is also the first Sony title that comes with the new PlayStation Overlay on PC. At any point in the game, you hit Shift + F1 on the keyboard to bring up a windowed overlay that shows your PlayStation account, friend list and trophies. Do keep in mind, however, that you’ll be required to connect to your PlayStation Network account within the game to access the feature.

Screenshot 2024 05 28 170810 overlay

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is the first Sony title on PC that comes with the new PlayStation Overlay
Photo Credit: Sucker Punch/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

PC performance

I played Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on an HP Omen 16-xf0060AX, provided by HP for the purpose of this review. So, while I was limited to 1080p resolution, I got consistent performance even at Very High settings. According to the game’s system requirements published ahead of release, you’d need an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 or an AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT GPU to reach 60fps at 4K resolution. I was able to get stable framerates above 100fps at 1080p resolution on an Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU, with DLSS frame generation on. I experienced very little stutter across different graphical settings during my gameplay.

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut reviewed on HP Omen 16

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS.

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 laptop GPU (8GB GDDR6 dedicated).

Memory: 16GB DDR5-5600 Mhz RAM.

Storage: 1TB PCIe Gen4 NVMe TLC M.2 SSD.

With DLSS upscaling set to Quality and graphical options set to Very High, the average framerate stood at an excellent 114.5fps, with 1 percent and 0.1 percent low averages also hovering well above 70fps. Lowering the graphical settings to High resulted in minor visual downgrades and bumped the average framerate to 146.8fps. Adjusting the DLSS upscaling option to Performance yielded even better results, with average framerate for Very High and High settings recorded at 128.7fps and 159.8fps, respectively. Of course, running the game at steady high framerates in 4K resolution would require a higher-end system. But, just as Nixxes promised, Ghost of Tsushima has been optimised to run smoothly on a variety of hardware.

Screenshot 2024 05 28 171006 ghost

Ghost of Tsushima uses a variety of vivid colour palettes
Photo Credit: Sucker Punch/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

Verdict

Sony has been following a delayed release strategy for PC ports of its first-party PlayStation titles. The success of its PC releases, be God of War or Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, proves the strength of its exclusive single-player games, that continue to generate interest years after their initial launch. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut perhaps underlines that phenomenon better than most other releases. The game is now PlayStation’s biggest single-player launch on Steam, surpassing the all-time peak player numbers of God of War on Valve’s platform. This, despite the PlayStation Network account linking controversy, that led to pre-order cancellations and the game being delisted from Steam in over 170 non-PSN countries.

PC players had clearly been waiting for a port of Ghost of Tsushima, and Nixxes Software has delivered a finely tuned package that looks more gorgeous than ever, plays more smoothly than ever and brings a few nifty PC-exclusive features that enhance the experience. The game itself, of course, arrives unchanged, which means its flaws are present on PC, too. Its open-world ideas chose to recycle rather than reinvent existing tropes and your core gameplay loop isn’t too dissimilar from an Assassin’s Creed title. But, when it comes to presenting those familiar ideas in evocative ways, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is a cut above the rest.

Pros

  • Excellent visuals
  • Consistent PC performance
  • Detailed graphics settings

Cons

  • Formulaic open-world
  • Lack of ray-tracing support

Rating (out of 10): 8

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut released May 16 on PC. The game was tested on an HP Omen 16-xf0060AX laptop provided by HP.

Pricing starts at Rs. 3,999 on Steam and Epic Games Store for PC.


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