Naughty Dog’s acclaimed post-apocalyptic adventure The Last of Us first released on PlayStation 3 in 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Lauded for its emotionally resonant storytelling and grounded characters, the title has seen continued success with its PlayStation 4 remastered version and is considered one of gaming’s most impactful narratives.
On January 19th, Naughty Dog is set to release The Last of Us Part II Remastered for PlayStation 5. Bringing a visually enhanced and content-rich version of 2020’s hotly debated sequel, the remaster aims to breathe new life into the divisive second chapter.
Enhanced Visuals and Performance
The Last of Us Part II pushed the PlayStation 4 hardware to its limits with its incredibly detailed character models, environments, and physics-driven gameplay systems. For the PlayStation 5 remaster, Naughty Dog has implemented further visual improvements and performance optimizations to better take advantage of the new console’s power.
As seen in early comparison footage, refinements like increased geometry detail, richer materials, enhanced lighting, and boosted resolution enable the sequel to shine as one of the most gorgeous titles available on PS5. Support for native 4K resolution and targeted 60 FPS framerates also make TLOU2’s tense action significantly smoother. Reviews praise the visual overhaul, with Variety stating:
“The attention to detail is simply staggering – from the individually rendered guitar strings on Ellie’s battered acoustic to the scrapes and scuffs on Joel’s well-worn revolver, no expense has been spared to make this world feel real.”
Further accessibility options provide more players with the means to experience the game’s impactful narrative. Enhancements like text-to-speech support and advanced visual customization add to the sequel’s already robust set of assistive features that earned recognition from disability advocates in 2020.
Return to Seattle with New Mode and Content
Alongside the graphical improvements, The Last of Us Part II Remastered includes the brand new Rogue-like “No Return” mode. Set in the Seattle portion of Ellie’s revenge filled quest, No Return presents a condensed 8-10 hour campaign optimized for repeat play.
Using randomized item placement, enemy encounters, and more punishing combat mechanics, the mode focuses on tense resource management gameplay full of high risk stealth and action. Players must carefully navigate the flooded, overgrown city to track down resources, supplements, weapons, and ammo to stand a chance against the overwhelming threats.
“No Return completely flips the script on The Last of Us 2’s formula. Ammo and supplements are extremely scarce, forcing you to use every tool at your disposal…It transforms Seattle into a giant sandbox filled with possibilities.”
|No Return Mode Key Features
|8-10 hour condensed campaign focusing on Seattle section
|Randomized items, encounters, world events
|Increased enemy numbers and difficulties
|Scarce resources – focus on stealth and distraction
|Daily/Weekly challenge missions
The Remastered edition also restores several cut levels that provide more insight into Ellie and Abby’s stories. These restored scenes feature new settings like an aquarium in Seattle and give more screen time to side characters.
Revisiting One of Gaming’s Most Divisive Titles
Ever since the initial reveal of The Last of Part II in late 2016, the sequel to 2013’s beloved The Last of Us has fascinated gamers. As Naughty Dog’s first AAA release on PlayStation 4, fans eagerly anticipated evolved gameplay and technical prowess. Most importantly, they wondered if the developer could deliver another emotionally charged story on par with the original.
When TLOU2 finally launched in June 2020 after several delays, it quickly became one of gaming’s most hotly debated titles in recent memory. Response boiled down to two opposing takes:
1. An uncompromising masterpiece that advances video game narrative
- Praise centered on the gripping story that subverts expectations and develops the returning cast in complex ways
- Approach to violence deemed mature and emotionally devastating
- Improved enemy AI and expanded stealth/action gameplay keeps tension high
2. A manipulative misery simulator full of contrived moments
- Complaints targeted gameplay pacing issues and overly long runtime
- Narrative seen as bleak for the sake of bleakness without substance
- Shocking moments labeled shallow appeals to controversy
The title would go on to receive over 300 Game of the Year awards from various publications while also ranking as the most critically divisive major PlayStation exclusive.
The upcoming remaster provides the gaming community with the perfect opportunity to reevaluate TLOU2 outside launch hysteria. Prospective players now have full context of the story’s divisive nature before diving in. The new No Return mode also offers a fresh way to experience the sequel’s gameplay strengths.
What Does the Future Hold for The Last of Us?
With The Last of Us Part II Remastered, Naughty Dog closes the book on Ellie and Joel’s harrowing cross-country journey…for now at least.
Ever since the original’s launch, fans have clamored for some kind of multiplayer component or standalone title. The Last of Us’ asymmetric competitive multiplayer Factions mode developed a dedicated community over the years. Players awaited Factions 2 for Part II, but Naughty Dog has kept quiet on their multiplayer plans since announcing the mode’s delay.
Rumors continue to circulate regarding a standalone multiplayer Last of Us project in development. Alleged details point to an always-online game with a hub world and evolving story content. Whether this comes to fruition or if Naughty Dog has something else up their sleeve remains to be seen.
Of course, the future fate of Ellie, Joel, and co. also intrigues fans. The dark ending of Part II leaves the door open for more adventures. Both Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson have hinted at their interest in returning to their iconic roles:
“I would absolutely jump at the chance to get to work with [Neil Druckmann] and Halley Gross and Ashley Johnson and the whole gang again to tell more story,” said Baker.
Perhaps a direct Part III or an entirely new story featuring different characters in the established world could one day come to fruition as well. But for now, players have the ultimate version of The Last of Us Part II to dive into and plenty of mysteries surrounding the property’s future.
What are your thoughts on The Last of Us Part II Remastered? Has your opinion changed on the divisive 2020 title? Let us know in the comments!
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