The highly anticipated remastered version of The Last of Us Part 2 launched on January 19th, 2024 exclusively on PlayStation 5. The game has received glowing reviews praising the enhanced visuals and gameplay, but not without some controversy surrounding Sony’s handling of upgrades and pre-orders.
Critics Praise Visual Upgrades and Gameplay Enhancements
Reviewers overwhelmingly agree that the PS5 remaster elevates the stunning visuals and intense gameplay of the original title. Many critics have declared it among the most graphically impressive games ever made.
IGN called it “an absolute stunner” that “plays better than the PS4 version across the board.” They highlight the native 4K resolution, upgraded textures and character models, improved lighting, smoother 60fps performance and near instantaneous loading as key enhancements.
VGC said “The Last of Us Part 2 sets a new benchmark for next-gen remasters” with its “spectacular lifelike visuals” and “best-in-class accessibility options.”
Digital Trends said “the PS5 enhancements help elevate its visuals and performance to near perfection.”
Siliconera summed it up as “a sublime example of a ‘remaster done right'” that respects the original while using new hardware to “realize its fullest potential.”
The praise extended beyond visuals to gameplay improvements like higher FPS, haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support on the DualSense controller. Critics say these enhancements make the combat feel more visceral and help further immerse players into the post-apocalyptic world.
Refund Controversy Over PS4 to PS5 Upgrades
Sony came under some scrutiny upon launch of the remastered title for how they handled upgrades from PS4 to PS5.
The company had initially only offered free next-gen upgrades to those who owned the PS4 digital version. Players who owned physical PS4 copies would have to re-purchase the full PS5 version.
After some backlash, Sony reversed course and announced they would offer full refunds to any PS4 owners who pre-ordered or purchased the PS5 remaster, according to Wccftech and other outlets. This allows players to upgrade from PS4 to PS5 at no additional cost.
While praised by players, the move also drew some criticism from press and industry insiders for being reactionary. Game developers in particular noted that Sony should have had this policy in place from the beginning instead of changing course post-launch.
Others argued Sony likely made the financial decision knowing they would generate more sales by “double dipping” – counting on fans to buy the game twice on old and new consoles. Offering blanket free upgrades would substantially cut into potential profits.
So while Sony ultimately did right by players with the refunds, their mishandling of the upgrade process for such a big release sent mixed signals in terms of their policies towards supporting cross-generational games.
No Return Mode Offers Intense Roguelike Challenge
Perhaps the most talked about new feature of the remaster is the unlockable “No Return” mode. This hardcore roguelike variation strips away mid-chapter checkpoints and introduces permadeath.
Players start with base level gear and abilities. Weapons, supplies and skills carry over between runs but are lost if you die at any point. This creates an extremely tense, high-stakes experience where every decision matters. Stealth, resource conservation and precise shooting become critical to survive.
Many reviews praised No Return as a fresh, engaging way to play that fundamentally changes the feel of the game. GamesRadar said it “makes everything more vital when death resets your progress entirely.” IGN said it “scratches a very specific itch” despite not having as much depth as some other roguelikes.
With the stellar reviews and wealth of new PS5 enhancements, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered represents an easy recommendation for new players and a compelling reason for returning fans to revisit the emotionally charged, violent world of Ellie and Abby. The launch has certainly not been without some hitches but overall critical sentiment and fan reception seems very positive. It will likely be considered among the top PS5 exclusives as the platform continues maturing.
What’s Next for The Last of Us Franchise?
Looking ahead, many fans are already speculating and curious if this remaster is hinting at more to come from the massively popular franchise.
The Last of Us TV adaptation is set to premiere on HBO this year starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, drumming up more interest and anticipation for the property.
Naughty Dog also created an intense 2018 gameplay demo that never made it into the final Part 2 release. Could additional single player DLC or even a full stand-alone title releasing this content be in the cards?
Or will the developer shift focus to the rumored multiplayer project that is allegedly in very early development stages? Perhaps they even have ideas for a Part 3 continuing Ellie and Abby’s journey, or further expanding the universe with new characters.
For now Naughty Dog isn’t making any official announcements about future games. But the franchise clearly remains a pivotal flagship property for PlayStation. It’s likely only a matter of time before fans get more from this compelling post-apocalyptic setting and cast of complex characters.
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered shows the original release impressively enhanced for new hardware. Some launch stumbles aside, critics agree it represents an apex of graphical showcases and emotive, intense gameplay not to be missed by fans of the franchise or narrative action games.
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