Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut Accessibility Review
With improvements both from the original post-launch patch and new features in the Director's Cut, this is yet another addition to Sony's catalogue that shows its dedication to accessible single player experiences. However, some new features and changes still need improving to truly be improvements to the game's accessibility.
Score8 out of 10
- Large subtitle text
- Improved visibility for Guiding Wind
- Directional haptics for Guiding Wind
- Lock On Mode
- New control schemes
- Lock On Mode isn't as helpful as it could be
- No more color button prompts
- Still have to swipe the touchpad for Guiding Wind
- No accessibility improvement to Bamboo Resolve Stands
The da da dum, da da dum, da da dum of a horse’s hooves when they run is as familiar to me as my own heartbeat. All my life I’ve ridden but as my lupus progresses and I get older, my body finds it less agreeable. Upon firing up Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut for this accessibility review and feeling those familiar hoofbeats perfectly replicated in the DualSense took my mind to a place that no video game has been able to before now. This is what the DualSense is capable of and this is precisely why, despite its not-very-comfortable design and weight, with every PS5 release, it’s becoming my favorite controller.
Haptics in the controller are but one of the improvements made to an already incredible experience in Ghost of Tsushima.
Many of the game’s accessibility improvements were introduced in a post-launch patch to the original game of which was released around this time last year after we’d given it a lackluster review score. There are a handful of new accessibility features introduced in the Director’s Cut and as much as I’d like to praise them along with the previous patch additions, unfortunately, they just missed the mark of being helpful.
Before we dive into that though, let’s discuss what’s great, both in the original post-launch patch and in the Director’s Cut.
Introduced in the post-launch patch, this improvement includes both subtitle text and UI text. It went from being a moderate size but still illegible for a lot of players to, in my opinion, a fantastic size.
It’s also quite helpful that for cutscenes, the subtitles are letterboxed, improving legibility even more. The subtitles also feature captions but only for human sounds and vocal tones and unfortunately not full captions for all pertinent in-game sounds.
Guiding Wind Visibility
The guiding wind was a feature I hated at the game’s launch last year. I was much more used to waypoints and paths being shown on minimaps giving specific locations and I didn’t love the idea of having to swipe the touchpad to activate navigational assistance. Over time, the guiding wind grew on me, once my brain learned to follow it, though I’d still rather not have to swipe the touchpad. One of the patch improvements was for improved visibility, as shown above.
Sucker Punch has taken the guiding wind accessibility even further with the Director’s Cut in mirroring it in the DualSense’s haptics. Not only are the haptics directional, starting at one end of the controller and shifting to the direction Jin needs to head, but they change in real-time.
In the video below, Jin is spinning around while I activate the wind over and over. All the while the haptics are accommodating Jin’s spinning and adjusting to guide you in the right direction. While I can’t speak to what sort of experience sightless players will have in this game, this feature does seem that it may help blind and low-vision players navigate more easily.
Enhanced Combat Cue Visibility
Another addition from the patch is the enhanced visibility for combat cues. This addition, well, does precisely what it says and makes combat cues easier to see.
No More Colored Button Prompts
One of the things I love about the updated Xbox controller is that it kept the button colors with the new-gen consoles. Why? Because I, like very many others, make more memorable associations with colors instead of letters or shapes as found on the DualSense controllers. In my mind, it’s blue, pink, green, and red. Not cross, square, triangle, circle.
Those color associations facilitated more accessible QTEs and stealth combat. With the Director’s Cut, as with the buttons on the DualSense, there is no color when button prompts are shown on the screen.
When playing the original PS4 version, even on my PS5, those button colors were cemented to memory, so even though there were no colors on my controller, the muscle memory was still there. Not anymore. Now, each time I’m prompted to assassinate or make a QTE dialogue choice, I have to stop and make sure I’m hitting the right button, often resulting in me failing the QTE or being spotted by the enemy I’m supposed to assassinate.
Haptics for “Survey” Instances
A brilliant addition in this version of the game is haptic feedback for all those times Jin has to survey an area and look at key locations. It starts out less intense and grows in intensity the closer you get, making these instances much more accessible for players that are blind or have low vision.
Lock On Mode
Combat was hard for me in the original version of Ghost of Tsushima because players were required to control both the camera and move Jin and hit the melee buttons. The new lock-on feature could have eliminated that problem but I found myself so annoyed by the feature that after an hour or so, I said screw it and turned it back off.
While great in theory, the implementation isn’t ideal. Instead of being able to toggle it on once in the menu and then automatically lock on to your nearest enemy, you have to first toggle it on in the menu once and then toggle it on by hitting up on the d-pad every. single. time. For every group of enemies you encounter, lock-on must be reset with the d-pad. And not just every general enemy encounter, say for example, once upon entering a Mongol camp, but every group encounter, so every non-grouped bunch of enemies within a Mongol camp. All I want to do is toggle on the lock on in the menu and lock on automatically to whatever enemy I swing my sword at.
Beyond that, the lock on changes how you initiate standoffs as well, taking them from pressing up on the d-pad to a slightly finicky hold on the d-pad. Yet another thing my chronically ill brain is not going to re-remember.
No Resolve For You
One thing I was really hoping would be improved on was the rapid button presses required for the bamboo stands that can improve your Resolve. The buttons for every stand are different and increase in difficulty three times for each stand. Many disabled players will not be fast enough to ever do these successfully, including myself.
I have successfully managed the bamboo stand one time. In two entire playthroughs of the game. What would help me? The ability to remove the time requirement or simplify the stands to, perhaps, one round of rapid button presses instead of three in increasing amounts.
Another fantastic update from the post-launch patch last year was the addition of fireflies to aid in tracking collectibles. In addition to the pulse of the controller when near these items and wearing the Traveler’s Attire, the fireflies, shown in the video below, alert players to an objects presence and guide them near it.
The other side of tracking—following hoofprints and footprints in various quests—has, unfortunately, not been improved to be any more accessible. These instances remain difficult to see with a combination of intermittent tracks and no assistive indication or glow to help players stay on the right path.
While this isn’t necessarily an accessibility feature for Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, it is a nice addition for me as a hard of hearing player. I can enjoy the game after having taken my ears out for the day, and because of the improved speaker in the controller and music and sword tings that play through it, can feel that the sound is happening, even if I can’t always hear it.
The best use of this in the game for me is when composing haiku. The beautiful and relaxing music that plays when composing poetry now plays through the speaker and can be felt even without haptics.
In addition to all of these additions from both the original game’s patch and those in the Director’s Cut, there are also new control scheme options for players to choose from. While some of them miss the mark in actually being helpful (and there are things I hope will again be fixed in a patch) the new features in Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut again highlight Sony’s first-party studios’ commitment to accessibility and making sure everyone can enjoy their games.
A review copy of Ghost os Tsushima Director's Cut was provided by the developer / publisher.