Ghost of Tsushima is one of my favorite games of 2020. I was amazed by its engaging story, complex combat and distinctive sense of style. Most notably, it features one of my favorite open worlds in the game. It is visually stunning with a seemingly limitless amount of colorful landscapes to admire. It’s that rare open world game where I never want to travel fast.
Like most games of the same genre, it can also tire you out. The first time I opened the map screen and saw how vast Tsushima Island was, I felt like a burden. I know I’ll probably be locked out of a 50 hour commit if I want to watch the game to the end. At the end of the game, the map will have hundreds of small icons, making up the total run time with an endless list of to-do activities. Petting a fox has gone from a fun task to a chore after my 20th – and I still have 30 more to do.
So imagine my relief when I boot Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut and jump into the game’s new DLC. It features a whole new story set on Iki Island, a smaller and cleaner location than the vast Tsushima. After a few hours of playing, I found myself wishing that more open world games would shrink to its size.
Around the world
Ghost of TsushimaThe Iki Island expansion is included in the new part of the game Director cut. It’s a sort of optional interweaving story that pops right into the central story. After a certain point in the main game, Jin is able to sail to Iki Island, where he discovers that a mage known as “Eagle” is releasing a mysterious poison on the people of Iki. It’s a self-contained story that takes the player to a completely new location, slightly smaller than Tsushima’s starting area.
This is nothing new to the open world game DLC. It’s the same post-launch strategy we’ve seen with games like Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn, added an icy northern region to its map for Frozen Wild expansion. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla just brought the Vikings to France to The Siege of Paris DLC. It’s often a way for developers to deliver more content by combining existing assets and activities, placing them on a new, unexplored map that contains a few new tricks.
Iki Island doesn’t feel much different from Tsushima in terms of design, but it’s more manageable to explore. Unlike my time in Tsushima, I never felt overwhelmed during my time in Iki. Within four hours I had revealed less than half of the map with new favorites popping up at a steady rate. I had to try a number of new activities, such as motion-controlled flute games and archery competitions, each repeated only a handful of times. There is nothing threatening to prolong its welcome. I feel like I can really do and see everything on Iki Island in a reasonable amount of time, which is a relief to go through a game like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, feeling great melancholy.
That smaller world has completely changed the way I interact with the game. I haven’t spent hours hopping between map icons, obsessively checking them off my to-do list. Instead, I play at a more leisurely pace. I tackled the story in a way that felt autobiographically right, not disappearing at key plot points to spend hours on busy work. I found myself taking longer to admire the environment and soak in all the beautiful colors – stopping to smell the flowers, you might say.
It was the same experience as the one I played Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The superhero title is a side-adventure compared to its predecessor, boasting a short 8-hour run time. 100% completion only takes about 18 hours compared to 35 or so to receive the platinum trophy in Marvel’s Spider-Man. The overtime hours don’t add much to the later hours, just more repetition. Opposite, Miles Morales is a sleeker adventure that contains the same web thrills without the mental strain.
I want to see more open world games look like Miles Morales or the expansion of Iki Island, although I understand why we don’t. This genre is designed to keep players hooked with a wide variety of content. People who only play a few games a year want the most money, and that’s fair considering the new AAA games these days typically cost $70. On the other hand, time commitment can be problematic on its own, especially for gamers who find their free time dwindling due to age or added responsibilities. It is difficult to find a point between those two needs; Ultimately, not every game or genre can fit every need.
However, the Iki Island expansion shows that a compact open world game is entirely possible. This format works well with 10-12 hours experience like 60 hours. All the signs make up Ghost of TsushimaThe base’s adventures are very special there; Just think of it as a finely curated tasting menu rather than an all-you-can-eat buffet. Both can fill you up, but only one is likely to make you feel nauseous if you try to cram them all in.
Now available on PS4 and PS5. Those who own the base game and just want to expand Iki Island can upgrade for $20.