Ghost of Tsushima fans (all five million of you and counting) it’s time to polish your Kunai and compose a navel-gazing haiku. Why? Because Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is on its way of course. Announced for PS4 and PS5, this beefed up version of the game adds a whole new DLC story arc for samurai starved gamers to sink their katanas into. Those playing on Sony’s latest console will also get a raft of new technical features to play with.
Mass Mongol murderer, Jin Sakai, will travel to the nearby Iki Island to combat a rumoured menace. There will be new characters to meet, armour to gather and ‘events with deeply personal stakes’ to face. Prior to Ghost of Tsushima’s release, investigated the first Mongol invasion of Japan to try and ascertain the likely narrative direction of the finished game. Well, let’s do that again, this time exploring the real-life history behind Iki Island.
A quick note for those of you who have yet to finish Ghost of Tsushima – there are ending and story spoilers ahead!
By the end of the original game, things have gone rather badly for the Mongols. Their leader, Khotun Khan, is very dead and the island of Tsushima has been liberated, thanks to Jin really wanting a platinum trophy. This differs significantly from the historical record. In reality, both Tsushima and Iki were swiftly crushed under the leather soled gutals of the Mongols, allowing the Khan’s forces to make it to the mainland of Japan itself. It’s clear then, with such sizeable historical changes, that Sucker Punch could have free reign to tell the story they want to in the upcoming DLC. Though I reckon they will still use history to frame their narrative.
With the promised deeply personal stakes, it’s highly likely that the video game account of the conquering of Iki will be brutal, more so than anything player’s had witnessed in the original game. On Iki island, the governor, Taira no Kagetaka, fought valiantly against the invaders with a brave army of samurai. Their efforts were futile, however. Taira no Kagetaka’s forces numbered no more than one hundred warriors, whilst the Mongols had up to 40,000 soldiers at their command, depending on which historian you believe.
After his defeat, Taira no Kagetaka committed seppuku with his family. Meanwhile, the victorious Mongols – according to James P. Delgado’s 2010 account – “held down the women and stabbed them through their palms with knives, stripped them naked, and tied their corpses to the sides of their ships”. Suffice to say, that if Jin has a past with Taira no Kagetaka, the disturbing scene he will stumble upon will provide plenty of personal stakes. The main story of the DLC will probably focus on Jin aiding the governor’s daughter, Sōzaburō, on her mission to make it to the mainland and tell them the horror that has been inflicted on Iki Island. History suggests that a mysterious samurai aided Sōzaburō in her task, perhaps that lone warrior will turn out to be the Ghost of Tsushima himself?
It will be interesting to see where this add-on content leads, but my guess is that it will set-up Ghost of Tsushima 2 – aka Ghost of Japan. Sure, fictional antagonist Khotun Khan is dead, but his real-life cousin, Kublai Khan, could be introduced. Let’s say Jin thought he’d defeated all the Mongols at Tsushima, only to discover that they were just a small contingent of an unspeakably vast horde. This provides the narrative explanation for the Mongol Invasion of Japan to continue. It happens every time; open world games always have sequels with even bigger open worlds. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find myself roaming a gorgeous PS5-powered virtual Japan in a few years’ time.
Playing with History is our ongoing series spotlighting video games and the real-world people and events that inspire them. From the harrowing historic backdrop fuelling Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, to the existence of zombies in Days Gone, and a deep dive into Jurassic World Evolution’s T-Rex, join us as continue to expand our timeline. Why not explore the real-world history behind Ghosts of Tsushima, or learn just how authentic the game is, according to a samurai expert.
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