The Last of Us Part II is one of the best games ever made, with its emotional yet bleak storytelling, sublime gameplay, and stunning world helping it stand out as a masterpiece of the medium. How do you improve upon that? Well, The Last of Us Part II Remastered doesn’t only bring improvements that enhance the core experience, but it also includes a wealth of additional content to ensure that this is the definitive way to experience Naughty Dog’s masterpiece.
Check out some screenshots down below:
I’m not going to talk too much about the main gameplay of The Last of Us Part II, because the game has nearly been out for four years now. Just know that it has masterful storytelling that’ll keep you completely hooked into the plight of both the heroes (and the villains), levels are expertly designed to offer plenty of engaging areas to explore that tell their own little stories, combat perfectly blends together stealth and vicious shootouts within its set pieces to keep players in awe of the brutality of the world, and it looks absolutely beautiful. I could write thousands of words talking about how good the game is, but I’ll repeat what I said earlier: The Last of Us Part II is one of the best games ever made.
So, what improvements can players expect in The Last of Us Part II Remastered? For one, the visuals have seen an enhancement, with improved foliage, sublime lighting effects, and enhanced textures across the board. More impressively, the game can be played at a 60fps frame rate, which makes everything look silky smooth in motion. This does mean you have to play at a 1440p resolution as opposed to 4k, though those who are willing to play at 30fps can have the game at 4k in the game’s Fidelity Mode – if your TV supports it, you can also use VRR to improve upon the frame rate, though I wasn’t able to test this during my review. It is worth noting that a patch was previously released to allow the PlayStation 4 version of the game to play at 60fps on the PlayStation 5, but the additional visual enhancements here do make a difference. If you’d only played the PlayStation 4 version before, you’re in for a treat.
What’s even more substantial is the addition of two new modes: The Lost Levels and No Return.
The Lost Levels are a selection of three incomplete levels that were cut from the game, with each set at different points of the story and designed to flesh out aspects of the narrative in a variety of meaningful ways. You’ll get through all three in under an hour so they’re not too long, but the way they give a deeper look into the design aspects of how levels are built is certainly interesting. They also bring with them developer commentary that details the design process, what their intent was, and why they were cut, which was something I was a BIG fan of. I’ve always been a fan of developer commentary in games anyway (it’s also worth noting that it’s included throughout the main campaign), but it felt more substantial when exploring what got left on the cutting room floor.
“I always wanted to spend more time playing as Joel in The Last of Us Part II, and I get to do that in No Return.”
No Return is a LOT more extensive in design, with it acting as a rogue-lite mode that sees players progressing through varied encounters with enemies that involve different objectives before facing off against a boss. You’re able to return to your base in order to upgrade your weaponry, character abilities, and so forth between encounters, so there’s a constant sense of progress as you move further through your run. And when you die? You start again. There’s a bit more depth to it than that thanks to things like the Gambit challenges that offer the opportunity to earn more rewards or the modifiers that change up your run in a variety of ways, so there’s always a different approach to take on each attempt. There are a ton of unlockables too, with the different characters standing out as a highlight. I always wanted to spend more time playing as Joel in The Last of Us Part II, and I get to do that in No Return.
It’s a really cool mode that I’ve found myself completely addicted too, with each playthrough bringing with it enough rewards to pull me back in for ‘one more run’. What was most impressive was how the experience never grew repetitive, and whilst you are doing a lot of the same things you’d have experienced already in the campaign, the intelligent AI of the enemies and the satisfying blend of brutal combat and stealth ensure that it’s always tantalising to experience. The only complaint I’d have is the lack of a narrative component, which DOES make sense, but is still a shame given how important storytelling is in the world of The Last of Us.
Whilst those stand out as the main additions of the experience, there are some other neat little extras that players will enjoy. Did you like being able to play guitar the first time around? Well, there’s a fleshed-out Guitar Free Play mode this time, with additional guitar types and effects able to be used to fine-tune your playing. It was impressive what players were able to previously accomplish with the guitar, so I’m certainly intrigued to see what song covers performed in the game hit YouTube. There’s also a Speedrun Mode for those who like to compete with other players for the best times, though I’ll admit this isn’t something that stood out to me. I like to be methodical and take my time in games like The Last of Us Part II, but hey, if you’ve got a more competitive edge, I’m sure it’s something you’ll like to get stuck into.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s clear then than Naughty Dog have gone all out to ensure this is a substantial remastered release, and between the enhancements and new content, they’ve achieved their goal. I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant DualSense implementation that make some of the game’s most brutal sequences all the more immersive, or the improved load times that ensure you’re never kept out of the experience for long. It’s crazy to think that it has been nearly four years since the game originally released, but now, with The Last of Us Part II Remastered, you’ve got the perfect reason to visit the amazing yet traumatising adventure all over again (and even see it in a whole new light).
The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review
The Last of Us Part II Remastered offers the definitive way for players to experience what was already a masterpiece, with the visual enhancements and additions making the game even better than it was before. Whilst the improved visuals, performance, and load times go a long way in making it look and feel better to play, the new modes like No Return and Lost Levels feel like genuinely substantial additions that’ll even keep veterans of the game gleefully glued to their screens once more. It all comes together to act as the perfect reminder that Naughty Dog are masters of their craft, with The Last of Us Part II Remastered sitting at the pinnacle of gaming greatness.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)