Joel, Ellie, and the rest of Naughty Dog's class of 2013 are back just in time for their HBO adaptation. But is it worth it for players?
- New game modes
- Accessibility options
- Difficulty customization
- Display modes
- New PlayStation Trophies
- Better collectible tracking
- Improved photo mode
- More bonus features
- Visual overhaul
The Last of Us Part I, or sometimes called The Last of Us remake, returns one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time to the spotlight. Following the game’s original launch in 2013, its PS4 remaster in 2014, and The Last of Us Part II in 2020, this PS5 remake seeks to bring the original and beloved game more in line with the recent sequel using a variety of modernizations. It also comes just months before the HBO adaptation debuts as one of the brand’s marquee original series in 2023.
Suffice it to say, it’s a good time to be involved in The Last of Us, but is the $70 price tag worth it for fans? Ultimately it’s your money and you should spend it how you prefer, but what we can provide is a detailed breakdown of what’s new in this remake so you can judge it for yourself. Here’s everything that’s been updated for 2022 and beyond in The Last of Us Part 1. For new players, this guide has been kept spoiler-free.
New game modes
The Last of Us Part I includes two new optional and challenging modes for players who want to experience the game in new ways. Permadeath mode is pretty much what it sounds like: If you die at any point in the roughly 12- to 15-hour story, the game resets.
However, there’s some flexibility in deciding how much progress you lose upon death. If you play using permadeath, you can elect the game to revert back to either the very beginning, the beginning of an act (2-3 hours), or the beginning of a chapter (30-60 minutes). Note that this mode also disables manual saves, and quitting to the menu or closing the game will count as a death.
Speedrun mode is another new feature that will allow you to submit times for others to try and surpass. Those playing in speedrun mode can compare their best times with friends and receive official tips from within the PS5’s Card feature, accessed when pressing the PlayStation button while the game is in-progress.
Like The Last of Us Part II and many other first-party games, PlayStation has put an emphasis on including a bevy of accessibility features in The Last of Us Remake. In many cases, these are new features that weren’t there in the game’s original release. The full gamut of options is split into several categories:
- Alternate controls
- Magnification and visual aids
- Motion sickness
- Navigation and traversal
- Screen reader and audio cues
- Combat accessibility
You can read more about The Last of Us Part 1 accessibility options here.
Within each category, you’ll find a wide range of options to change the way the game plays to suit your wants or needs, such as button presses versus holds, camera assistance, colorblind mode, HUD customization, motion blur, an ability to completely skip puzzle sections, an invisibility toggle, and ways to alter the AI behavior, such as preventing enemies from flanking you or making it so your allies can’t be grabbed by enemies. In total, there are more than 60 accessibility options that can be enabled if you so choose.
In addition to the dozens of accessibility options, the game’s difficulty can now be customized, much like the sequel, across a variety of categories. This includes:
- Overall challenge difficulty – Very light, light, moderate, hard, survivor, and Grounded (available after completing the game once)
- Player resiliency
- Enemy resiliency
- Ally aggression
- Stealth efficacy
- Resource availability
Each of these categories has six different options on its own continuum, meaning if you want enemies to go down fast but stealth to be much harder to execute, for example, you can tweak it to your preferred mix.
The Last of Us Part I includes two display modes for 4K TVs. It’s up to you to choose which one is active, and you can switch between them at will. The modes include:
- Performance: Balanced resolution and framerate. This sticks to a steady 60 frames per second and allows the resolution to move between 4K and 1440p as on-screen action demands.
- Fidelity: Favor resolution over framerate. This plays the game in 4K at 40 frames per second, which is smoother than the game’s original 30fps, but not quite as smooth as what’s offered in performance mode. Still, you get the guaranteed 4K resolution without upscaling.
Generally, I’ve found the difference between 4k and 1440p to be negligible, so I always end up going with the higher framerate, but this is something you’ll want to tweak according to your preferences.
New PlayStation Trophies
The Trophy list for The Last of Us Part I is slightly different than the original game, with the biggest difference being the absence of difficulty-related Trophies. This comes as part of an apparently concerted effort on Sony’s part to remove such Trophies from its games to allow more players to strive for and achieve Platinum Trophies, the reward for completing a game’s Trophy list.
Other than that, the list is as you’d expect it if you’ve played before, including the partition between the base game and the standalone Ellie-centric prequel chapter, Left Behind. There are no Trophies tied to the game’s permadeath or speedrun modes, so you can ignore them and still earn the Platinum if you wish. You’ll still want to collect all of the game’s collectibles, hear all of Ellie’s jokes, and perform a number of gameplay-specific feats.
Better collectible tracking
The Last of Us has lots of collectibles, including Firefly pendants, comic books, and more. In this remake, you can better track what you’ve found–and what you’re still missing–in each chapter. This should make it easier to jump back into a chapter and locate what you’re looking for on the way to 100% game completion.
Improved photo mode
PlayStation consistently includes some of the best photo modes in games, and that’s still true in The Last of Us Part I. The suite of options includes tons of filters, logos, frames, and camera controls, as you’d expect. But it also includes an elaborate lighting rig that allows you to frame scenes in ways that few games–maybe none–have allowed before.
More bonus features
Beating the game for the first time unlocks a number of alternate visual filters, character skins, and more. This system was in place with the original game, but it’s been expanded on for the remake to include many more unlockable “toys,” for want of a better word. The full list includes:
- Mirror world
- Mirror on death
- Slow motion
- Bullet speed mode
- Infinite ammo
- Infinite crafting
- Infinite melee durability
- Infinite listen mode range
- One shot
- 8-bit audio
- 4-bit audio
- Helium audio
- Xenon audio
Perhaps more than any other reason, this remake exists because it brings the original game in line with the much more recent sequel, creating one cohesive, 40-hour storyline for those who wish to experience the full story. This is no coincidence of timing, as the complete saga now looks and plays great all on PS5 just as The Last of Us TV series is set to debut on HBO sometime in 2023.
The brand has been touting the adaptation as one of its most exciting new series, even using it in the “one more thing” slot in an August trailer for what’s coming soon on HBO. Alongside so many other multimedia projects seeking to adapt PlayStation franchises into movies or shows, arguably none have the prestige that Naughty Dog and The Last of Us have long brought to the platform, so this remake goes about as far as you could expect given that it’s built on the framework of a nine-year-old video game.
Character models have been made to better match their sequel versions, environments have been given much more detail on both big and small scales, and naturally the fidelity of, well, anything in the game world is much sharper than ever before.
Whereas the 2014 remaster was a matter of upping the resolution made possible by more powerful hardware, The Last of Us Part 1 is a faithful remake. It doesn’t change the story one bit, not by a single voice line. But what it does do is bring one of PlayStation’s most popular and prestigious projects into the modern day, and in doing so, it’s meant to attract new players and returning players alike.
Is a prettier, more accessible, more special feature-laden version of 2013’s best game worth your time and money? That’s up to you to ultimately decide, but for more on the game, you can read our The Last of Us Part I review.
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