Comparing The Last of Us Part I Gameplay to the Original

Here is 4K60 gameplay from the PS5 remake.

And here is the same portion of gameplay at 720p on the PS3.

Let’s not forget the PS4 remaster at 1080p either.

I find the most powerful element from this Part I footage to be that the game looks like I remember it. But when you go back thirteen years to the Cell processor and see what it actually looked like…The Last of Us in 2013 is a testament to the immersive “on the stick” design that Naughty Dog strives for.

Side Note: Listen with headphones if you can. Some of the 3D audio design comes through as well.

The Last of Us Devs Bet Big on Accessibility – Jen Glennon

The Last of Us devs bet big on accessibility — and made a better game by Jen Glennon for Inverse

“The technology and features of one game are often very easy to port over to another game,” says Schatz. “So some of our biggest tasks, like text-to-speech — we’ve done it now. So that investment in our future is now paying off in that way. We can put those features into The Last of Us Part I.”

The work put into accessibility in The Last of Us Part II has begun to reap benefits with subsequent Naughty Dog games. With The Last of Us Part I a week away, part of the press tour is promoting and discussing the near identical feature set between the two games. Some of the features even surpass Part II’s offerings, like the full audio descriptions during cutscenes.

This flag planted for accessibility has marked all Naughty Dog games going forward. Major regressions in these support features going forward would be a loss. It has also raised the bar for other developers. I’ve noticed other PlayStation Studios putting emphasis on their accessibility features. Microsoft has also led the way with first-party games and their accessibility controller.  I hope the trend continues.

I wonder what the feature slate will be for the Factions multiplayer game from Naughty Dog, considering its presumed online nature.

In Schatz and Gallant’s view, the most innovative games in the coming five to 10 years will likely take more of a less-is-more approach, refining a more personalized approach to interaction rather than focusing on flashy visuals or superfluous embellishments.

“We’ve reached a point in game design where everything is maximal. I think there’s a lot of innovation in the future in paring that down,” says Schatz. “Do we really need to use all these controls? What do we get out of a minimalist experience, where we’re just pressing one thing? I’m really looking forward to evolving toward more intentional design in all sorts of ways.”

This reminds me of Journey. Two buttons and two control sticks make up the control scheme for one of gaming’s absolute best.

Update: Not five minutes after pressing “publish,” PlayStation released an Accessibility trailer for Part I.

Wishcasting for The Last of Us Part I

My third post since announcement. Can you tell I’m excited?

I’ve seen some criticism for The Last of Us Part I for being the same exact game, just prettier. Besides being a shallow opinion, it’s short-sighted as well. All we have is a blog post, a cinematic trailer, and some comparison screenshots. At the time of writing, there’s no details on the gameplay, modes, and features.

Those concerns could all come true! But, until we know more let’s speculate / wishcast! Nothing like tossing out hopes to properly establish expectations.

Grounded

The documentary, not the mode. I think they should keep Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us included with this remake. It was available to both the PS3 and PS4 versions. I think it is important to provide access to this in-game.

One Night Live

In a similar vein, I say go ahead and include a copy of the One Night Live performance with the extended ending that was only performed for the folks there live. Turns out that scene is essentially the start of The Last of Us Part II. It would make total sense to include that now. I have no doubts that was recorded. The show was unique. It’d be nice to see it attached to the game itself.

The Alternate Ending

If Naughty Dog is going back and animating everything again from the mocap sessions, I say it is time to animate the true ending of The Last of Us.

Seriously, they have the reference footage and the character models. Make it an unlockable. Bring some goofy, easter egg, video game-ness to this remake.

Load Up on Concept Art

Both games have unlockable concept art. Keep the train going with design doc scans, interviews, and more art. My brain views this remake as a celebration of The Last of Us. Allowing for a broader peek behind the curtain of the development would truly be celebratory.

Graphics Toggle

If at all possible, I think a toggle to flip between the PS3/PS4 graphics and these new PS5 ones would be wild. Always loved that in Halo 2: Anniversary.

What’s unclear at the time of writing is how much of a 1:1 remake this is going to be. Has Naughty Dog reimagined or expanded some combat scenarios? Are some environments reshuffled around?

If it is a 1:1 remake spatially, I think a toggle like this would be neat to show the leap in visuals. But I would take reimagined environments over this any day.

“New” Mechanics

We do know for a fact that the combat and gameplay have been enhanced.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced.

What we don’t know is the scope of those improvements. We can imagine accessibility features in line with those found in The Last of Us Part II. What about combat though? Is Joel gonna be diving around like Ellie? How will Ellie play in Left Behind since she doesn’t have the same experience as in the sequel?

I’d love to have the MGS3-inspired combat across both games, but the question is does it fit within the encounters of the first game? This sounds like fitting a square peg in a round hole. Unless the environments and scenarios are redesigned (see previous wish).

If Naughty Dog does go down the redesigned route, I would like to see some tech from Left Behind incorporated. Those Infected vs Hunters vs player encounters were unique. I recall Bruce Straley mentioning it was cut from the base game due to time. It’d be nice to see that vision incorporated properly into the original story.


It’s fun to have the game be so close to release while simultaneously knowing so much and so little about it. In this rare window before release, it’s fun to speculate. I think additions like this would help entice those that think the price is too high. These would be fun surprises and enhancements to offer players that’d be truly unique to this PS5 version. Time will tell though come September.

Responding to the Pricing of The Last of Us Part I

The Last of Us Part 1 Feels Like a Blatant Money Grab by Sony by Logan Moore for Comicbook.com

My pal Logan Moore wrote up an opinion piece on The Last of Us Part I and its pricing. I thought it’d be fun to respond bit by bit. We’d normally discuss this on a podcast, but given I’m out of town, this asynchronous blog response feels like an in-depth way to keep our usual conversation alive. (Although we have already discussed this yesterday after the reveal).

It’s hard not to feel like Sony‘s upcoming PlayStation 5and PC remake of The Last of Us, which is formally being titled The Last of Us Part 1, is being created for any reason other than to bring in easy money. Perhaps that’s a stupid thing to say given that the entire point of video game development in the first place is for companies to generate profits, but this latest re-release of The Last of Us feels different. Not only is the game not going to contain everything that was seen in the past two versions that were released on PS3 and PS4, but Sony is also asking for a considerable more amount of money to boot.

A considerable amount of more money is $10-20? When The Last of Us launched on PS3 it was $60 and the PS4 remaster started at $60 before being dropped to $50. Monetarily, launching at full price is in line with new releases for Sony.

The question lies in is the narrative and gameplay experience of The Last of Us worth full price in 2022? Anyone could go to a local shop and snag the PS3 game for $10. Millions snagged the PS4 game when it was included with PS+ in October 2019.

I do find it strangely interesting to think about the quality proposition and accessibility. The Last of Us is one of the greatest games of all time and is quite accessible. Compare that to other all timers, like Ocarina of Time. Playing Zelda’s first 3D outing today requires an expensive cartridge, plus the hardware to play, a remake on 3DS, or an $80 a year subscription. In contrast, The Last of Us is playable on three generations of PlayStation hardware and is coming up on nine years since release. Does a younger age and more accessible title make paying new prices undesirable? People will always complain about full prices – look at Skyward Sword HD – but I do enjoy pondering the dynamics of timing and access.

What is surprising, though, is that Part 1 doesn’t even contain everything seen in The Last of Us Remastered. That version of the game, which came out in 2014 on PS4 (for a cheaper-than-normal retail price of $49.99) contained the base game, Factions multiplayer, and the Left Behind DLC. The Last of Us Part 1 is going to contain all of the same single-player content, but Factions is now being left out entirely, likely because a new Naughty Dog multiplayer game in this vein is already on the way.

I agree wholeheartedly that this new Factions game is why there is no Factions in Part I. No multiplayer was included in either Uncharted collection. Is that right? I’m not sure. Those modes are still available on PS4 until those servers get shut down someday, just like the PS3 servers. How many people are clamoring for Uncharted multiplayer?

The unique position of having both the single player and multiplayer in development hasn’t been pulled off by Naughty Dog before. Their multi-team development goal has finally come true it seems. Taking resources away to refresh the original version of Factions with what sounds to be a full-blown sequel to that mode seems wasteful. If this multiplayer game wasn’t a real deal, then its absence in Part I would be significant to me. Knowing a newer (and hopefully better) version—that is its own game—makes that okay to me. Perhaps I’m too easy going or an apologetic fan, but I think this absence is paving the way for a bigger, bolder, better game.

The other reason that this release from Sony feels bizarre is because no one has really been asking for the publisher to remake The Last of Us whatsoever. Despite coming up on the tenth anniversary of its first release, The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 is still a more-than-adequate way to experience and play the original game. The graphical work that has been done in Part 1 seems impressive on Naughty Dog’s part based on what has been shown so far, but this also isn’t a game that seemingly needs to exist right now.

It could be argued that Sony is really only aiming for new players to pick up The Last of Us Part 1, especially since the HBO TV series based on the game is set to release early next year and will by proxy expose new people to the property. And while that would be a feasible conclusion to jump to, PlayStation itself isn’t even marketing the game in this manner. The tagline for The Last of Us Part 1 on PlayStation’s own website is encouraging people to, “Relive the beloved game that started it all – for the PlayStation 5 console.” Sony is merely looking to tap into the audience that has already played The Last of Us because it knows that these same customers will just look to buy it once again. After all, why spend five or more years creating an entirely new game that may not sell well when you can spend a fraction of that development time to re-release an old title that will surely bring in revenue.

I love Logan, but this is a shallow perception of the remake’s existence. While tapping into the existing fanbase is assuredly an angle, new fans and a much wider market are the true goal Sony is chasing. The HBO show is a clear promotional opportunity, which Logan rightly mentions. I suspect sales from both games will get that HBO bump.

The Last of Us as a franchise has sold 28-30 million copies within the last nine years. I feel confident in saying it is PlayStation’s most successful new IP, especially given a series quantity to sales ratio. Before that, the answer would likely be Uncharted.

Now God of War for example, had sold 51 million copies by 2020. With the PC port of God of War (2018), that has likely exceeded 53 million. It took Kratos 17 years to reach that over eight games. The Last of Us has reached over half those numbers in half the time with just two games. The opportunity for growth is substantial.

Sony projects PS5 to surpass PS4, while also anticipating massive growth in PC ports. With Part I coming to both PS5 and PC, the market the company is tapping into far surpasses the fans of the original. It can be hard to think that there are millions that haven’t played The Last of Us, especially when it’s been a part of the conversation ever since it arrived. In some ways, this just feels like a quick stop on the way up even higher.

For the past couple of years, Sony has been making a number of moves associated with PlayStation that show the company is more focused on profits above all else at the moment. Bend Studio’s inability to get Days Gone 2 greenlit, despite the first game selling rather well, is one example of this that we’ve heard about in the past year. The shuttering of Japan Studio last April is another notable occurrence. Despite creating or assisting with the development on a number of beloved games, Sony seemingly decided to do away with Japan Studio just because it wasn’t a division of the company that ever made a ton of money with its releases.

I agree with Logan here. A lot of decisions – by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo – feel safer than ever before. All these mergers and acquisitions have a feeling of staying ahead and/or alive. If it doesn’t bring in millions, move on to the next thing that will. I’m reminded of a statement I hear Colin Moriarty tout. I don’t have the exact quote, but it follows the line of an opportunity taken means closing the door on others. An example would be Insomniac making a Wolverine game means they are not making some new Resistance game or new IP. Companies are becoming more risk adverse it seems as gaming continues to be the largest grossing entertainment industry in the world.

But with Naughty Dog, Sony is sort of having their cake and eating it to. There’s this remake of one of their most successful games. Then a massive sounding multiplayer game based off that same IP in 2023, which undoubtedly will have microtransactions and/or battle passes. And finally, the team also has a brand new project – presumably a new IP – in development.

Now, is risking all this development on Naughty Dog that big of a risk? No. They are one of, if not the, best developer Sony owns. This is safe-ish. But why spend millions at Bend making Days Gone 2 when Naughty Dog could use some of those millions? Or let Bend make a new IP multiplayer game, which is happening. It’s interesting to see what risks are being taken and what are not.

This $70 price tag on The Last of Us Part 1 also resembles the “controversy” that PlayStation found itself in last year with the upgrade path for Horizon Forbidden West. While it previously seemed apparent that people who bought the PS4 iteration of Forbidden West would later be able to freely upgrade to the PS5 version, Sony instead tried to squeeze a bit more money out of this group and revealed that they would need to pay a small fee to get the next-gen iteration later if they wanted to. After widespread fan outcry Sony ended up reversing course on this decision, but the fact this was even a problem in the first place highlights how PlayStation is operating at the moment.

Xbox has made this cross-gen leap so simple. It’s consumer friendly and inviting. Sony really borked the Horizon and GT7 upgrades when initially announced. At least now there is a clear “you will pay from here on out” line in the sand. Personally, I’m happy to pay the little extra because people work hard to make these games. I can spend ten more bucks. I get that I also have a financial privilege to be so hand wavy about it.

I know this isn’t what Logan is saying here, but I did see some tweets implying that Part I should be a free upgrade. That’s just plain stupid. Clearly this remake is brand new development and will share little with the original game in terms of production. People worked hard on this and deserve to be paid for said work. Now, consumers should vote with their wallet to communicate what price they think this game is worth. It’ll be on sale by the holidays and be discounted beyond that. It’ll hit $50, heck maybe even $40 within its first year on shelves. It’d be nice if Sony had a more competitive price up front, but they don’t. I’m a terrible example anyway: I’m buying the $100 edition. Maybe Logan will be too…

Everything that I have said here is perhaps hypocritical considering that I’m one of those customers that will absolutely be looking to play The Last of Us Part 1 for myself when it hits PS5 in the coming months…

But let’s look at Logan’s final statement.

Still, I can’t help but feel like this is yet another instance where PlayStation is becoming more of a faceless corporate entity that is looking to drive revenue in any way possible rather than trying to meaningfully engage with its audience and listen to what they want. Time will only tell if this proves to be damaging to the company’s reputation, but in an age where Sony quite literally can’t keep up with demand for the PS5, I have a feeling that those operating at a corporate level within Sony are feeling more than happy about where PlayStation is heading.

This, to me, feels like getting old. As I get older, I feel like the wonder and magic is largely gone from the game industry. It can crop up, but the stretches of excitement and hype grow further apart. Corporate ambitions are more clear where charm vanishes. Nintendo consoles used to have catchy tunes and quirky details. Xbox championed voice control in games. PlayStation would throw its own fan event. Now that all has vanished for subscriptions, TV shows, and strategic marketing. The chill of calculation has crept in where the warmth of youthful anticipation used to be. It can be biting.

The days of summer vacation and playing The Last of Us are far behind me. Now I just wait to find time to play a reimagined version of one of my favorites. Perhaps I’m too much of a fan or settled in my preferences. God knows I love a Naughty Dog game. I find discussions surrounding remakes, the market, and development fascinating. Now it’s come for one of my favorites. I’m just happy to have these options at all. Let’s see what Naughty Dog reveals about this remake in the coming months before writing it off entirely.

The Last of Us Part I Announced

Looks like round 10 will have a shiny new coat of paint.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced. Leveraging the PS5’s powerful hardware, we also implemented 3D Audio*, haptics, and adaptive triggers. Both returning fans and new players alike will have the opportunity to experience both The Last of Us Part I and its prequel story Left Behind in a whole new way.

The Last of Us Part I appears to be bringing parity to the duology; on par visual fidelity and gameplay.

I’m impressed with the leap in graphical quality. Neil Druckmann said on the stream that the animators went back to the original mocap footage and referenced Troy and Ashley’s performances. Neat to see the original recordings can still be used. Reminds me of the clip in the Grounded documentary showing off the hand animation process.

Sure the character models are striking, but look at the background. The furniture and environment detail is far more realistic. The camera shot itself has a more cinematic feel. These changes speak to the power gap between the PS3 and the PS5. I wonder when we will think the PS5 version looks old.

The trailer gives off that cinematic feel. It’s one of those strange moments when the remake looks and feels like I remember, but looking back at the launch trailer on PS3 you see how far technology has come. From 720p and an unstable 30fps to 4K 30 or 60 (we’ll have to wait and find out the visual modes) is quite the leap on top of the graphical changes. The PS4 remaster I believe goes to a checkerboarded 4K with 60fps and HDR. We should also remember the cutscenes were pre-rendered on PS3/4. I assume on PS5 they will be real-time. Color me excited for the inevitable Digital Foundry analysis.

As a big fat fan and collector, I’m happy to see a special edition of the game. The Firefly Edition is exclusive to PlayStation Direct. It comes with a stellar looking Steelbook and a re-release of the American Dream comic with new covers all designed by David Blatt. You know I ordered my copy.

What I’m most curious about are the gameplay tweaks. There was no outright mention that the gameplay was being lifted from Part II. It would be quiet difficult to “copy and paste” the fluidity from the sequel into the original scenarios in the first game. They’d have to be redesigned to allow for that range of mechanical freedom.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced.

It’s possible they’ve expanded areas and redesigned combat encounters. Maybe they brought in cut ideas like having Infected and Hunter encounters come up outside of Left Behind. There is interesting potential with a ground-up remake. I’m excited to learn what opportunities the team has taken.

The studio has promised more in the coming weeks and months. With the game only 84 days out, it’s great to have it in our hands so soon.

Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 2 – The Last of Us Part II

In this inaugural test season of Chapter Select, Max and Logan dig into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic series The Last of Us. Hot off the heels of its release in 2020, we sink our teeth into Naughty Dog’s divisive sequel. Did PlayStation’s top team capture earn the “Part II” in the title? How does The Last of Us Part II affect the legacy of the first game?

Download (51MB)

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The Last of Us Part II

Developer – Naughty Dog
Platform – PS4
Release Date – June 19, 2020
Director – Neil Druckmann
Narrative Lead – Halley Gross
Game Directors – Kurt Margenau and Anthony Newman
Composers – Gustavo Santaolalla and Mac Quayle

Metacritic – 93/100

Links


This episode was originally recorded on June 23, 2020.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Episode Cover Art by Sebastian Gromann

Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 1 – The Last of Us

In this inaugural test season of Chapter Select, Max and Logan dig into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic series The Last of Us. Weeks before the release of the sequel, Logan and Max replayed the PS3’s swan song to explore how it aged and explore its impact on the video game industry in the past seven years.

Download (40MB)

RSS FeedOvercastApple PodcastsSpotify

The Last of Us

Metacritic – 95/100

Links


This episode was originally recorded on June 11, 2020.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Episode Cover Art by Nick Gindraux

Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 2 – The Last of Us Part II (CtS Edition)

In this inaugural test season of Chapter Select, Max and Logan dig into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic series The Last of Us. Hot off the heels of its release in 2020, we sink our teeth into Naughty Dog’s divisive sequel. Did PlayStation’s top team capture earn the “Part II” in the title? How does The Last of Us Part II affect the legacy of the first game?

Continue reading “Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 2 – The Last of Us Part II (CtS Edition)”

Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 1 – The Last of Us (CtS Edition)

In this inaugural test season of Chapter Select, Max and Logan dig into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic series The Last of Us. Weeks before the release of the sequel, Logan and Max replayed the PS3’s swan song to explore how it aged and explore its impact on the video game industry in the past seven years.

Continue reading “Chapter Select: Season 0, Episode 1 – The Last of Us (CtS Edition)”

Part IV: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Welcome to Part IV of Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era.

I decided to break-up the six parts of my history into individual episodes as well, for more choice for you, the listener. This episode dives into the rapid, slammed development of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. From pre-production to release in just 15 months, The Lost Legacy is a marvel to explore. I hope you enjoy.

Continue reading “Part IV: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy”

Guest Appearance on Controlled Interests – The Last Of Us 2 Spoilercast

The Last Of Us 2 Spoilercast – CI Gamecast Special – YouTube

The Last Of Us Part 2 Spoilercast – Controlled Interests Gamecast Special – Podcast

It did not take long for me to return to Controlled Interest. Jerrad invited me back to dig into The Last of Us Part II with himself, Dom, and Chris Nunes. It was actually the first spoilercast for the game I even engaged with as I’ve stayed away until I could finish my own review (which is finally in the editing process). The four of us had an engaging discussion and I personally had a great time. I hope you enjoy.