Ghost of Tsushima’s latest patch is a lot more than a patch. For starters, it added a meaty standalone cooperative mode to the single-player action game. It also introduced a New Game Plus and the option to dress Jin Sakai up as some of the game’s most memorable characters. There are also two exciting quality-of-life changes: hour counts—which now show up on your save files, and might reveal some harsh truths about how much of a time sink Ghost is—and the long-clamored-for addition of gear loadouts.
Ghost of Tsushima’s menus load in the blink of an eye, so it wasn’t too much of a burden to pull up your gear menu and switch up your equipment as situations required. But as the game goes on and you complete side-quests and platforming shrines, your library of charms can balloon to unmanageable proportions, eventually topping 75. Scrolling through that every time you want to, say, boost your stagger damage rather than your detection speed is somewhat of a pain, especially for those who love switching tactics on the fly. The addition of loadouts enormously speeds the process up.
Here’s how it works: First, you have to open the game’s options and toggle loadouts on. From there, it’s just a matter of choosing which set of armor you want to wear, and then hitting R2. That’ll bring you to a blank slate of charm slots for that specific outfit. It’s somewhat cumbersome to go through every set of armor and reapply all of the charms you want for all of the outfits you like—but, hey, at least you only have to do it once. If you end up toggling loadouts off and turning them back on later, the game will remember how you assigned your charms across the board.
Best of all, at least for the fashionistas of Tsushima, the game will also remember which headwear and katana sheaths you pair with which outfits.
For those who’ve already beaten the game, the news about loadouts might be too little too late. But the new New Game Plus is enticing. Like this summer’s The Last of Us Part 2, New Game Plus in Ghost of Tsushima features half-tiered difficulty levels. So, instead of Easy, Medium, Hard, or Lethal, your second playthrough can be done on difficult levels with little plus-signs affixed to them, where Easy+ is harder than Easy but not as hard as Medium, Medium+ is harder than Medium but not as hard as Hard, and so on. It’s a nice way to comfortably ramp up the challenge. For what it’s worth, if you’re kitted out in endgame gear and starting the plot anew, Hard+ is probably the sweet spot. You can also, as with the traditional story mode, switch the difficulty setting at any time.
The New Game Plus also does away with all the introductory fluff you might find in similar modes from other games. In Ghost of Tsushima, you notoriously can’t skip cutscenes in the game. Since the first hour or so is, like, half cutscenes, sitting through a lengthy opening sequence you’ve already gone through at least once surely doesn’t sound appealing. But by selecting New Game Plus, you’ll get dropped in seconds before the title card kicks in—that tremendous moment where the music swells as you gallop through a field of pampas grass. (Veterans will recall that you choose a horse in the tutorial section. In starting a New Game Plus, you get to choose your horse’s name among the startup options. You do not get to choose its coat.)
When you’re let loose in the open world, you’re given a new quest called “Echoes Between Worlds.” (Flavor text: “I can’t explain it, but I feel as if I’ve walked this path before.”) This short side-quest takes you to the island at the center of Lake Izuhara. There, you’ll meet Baku, a new vendor with a nightmare-inducing, four-faced mask. Baku only accepts a new resource, unique to New Game Plus, called Ghost Flowers, which you can earn by completing objectives that you completed in your first playthrough.
He mostly sells cosmetic options, including a fancier fundoshi. He also sells various charms that can make the game tougher (e.g., turning off your revival ability) or way, way, way easier (e.g., your flaming sword can immolate multiple enemies at once). One high-cost charm will even let you pet and recruit enemy dogs. His best wares, though, are two new sets of armor, both of which are worn by some prominent characters from the main storyline: Ryuzo’s Deadly Rival’s Attire and Sensei Ishikawa’s Archery Master’s Attire. As with every other set of armor in the game, these come with their own stat changes, expanding the wardrobe to more than a dozen strategy-specific digs. Good thing loadouts are part of the game now.