A Brief History
2020 during the height of a global pandemic, Naughty Dog released the sequel to one of their most celebrated games, which also happened to be set during the events of a global pandemic. Now in 2024, we have The Last of Us Part II: Remastered.
Plagued with what was considered one of the biggest leaks to hit a video game at the time, all cinematics of the upcoming title were uploaded and shared online. Along with false information being whispered amongst everyone online about certain characters. The Last of Us Part II became one of the most controversial video games to discuss online and still is to this day in some circles.
As a sequel, Naughty Dog took the already enjoyable gameplay of Part I and improved on it in every way. Ellie and Abby were more mobile than Joel in the previous instalment. With the ability to dodge, go prone, crawl, mantle ledges and objects. With the addition of more weapons to obtain and makeshift items to craft at their disposal.
Visually it was beautiful to look at, landscapes of nature exploding through the urban environments as it reclaimed the world once built upon it by force. As the background to the gameplay, it was a stark contrast to the brutality that unfolds among the beauty.
Four years have passed since the story of Ellie Williams and Abby Anderson was shared with the world. Naughty Dog has now remastered their tale but is the €10 worth the price of admission to access The Last of Us Part II: Remastered?
What’s in this remaster?
Naughty Dog has somehow managed to improve the visuals of The Last of Us Part II: Remastered. Beautiful environments and characters portraying emotion visually lead the way in storytelling through video games. The grotesque, ever-transforming Cordyceps enemies look more mutilated from their fungal infection with terrifying imagery that you cannot help but think “Could this happen if the cordyceps fungus was to ever mutate and infect humanity”? The brutality of humans and how they inflect that violence onto each other as they maim, torture and take lives all in the name of survival.
To go along with the visuals Naughty Dog has included a fair amount of skins for Ellie and Abby to wear during their adventure. Including but not limited to, a spacesuit, 80’s glam makeup and a Furiosa ‘wasteland’ inspired style. Along with a large amount of t-shirts featuring previous PlayStation titles and other franchises.
Point of ‘No Return’
In addition to new visuals for players to enjoy, a new roguelike game mode has been added to play with, “No Return”. This will more than likely be the first stop for returning players. With a selection of ten characters to choose from all picked from the cast of the story mode. Starting with Ellie and Abby, the additional eight characters have their own criteria needed for unlocking them.
Each character starts in their faction hideout with their own base set of weapons, items and a perk tree. There is a notice board on the wall with several polaroids pinned to it with string connecting them. How your run plays out is up to you. The path you take is locked in and all other polaroids not on that line will be burned upon returning after you complete your challenge of choice.
Each polaroid contains a location, type of engagement, what enemy forces you will be going against, and your reward for completion. Also, there will sometimes be level modifiers that will be present during your run for that selection.
Fight to survive
While you can play stealthily in these engagements, aggression is key. After three minutes, points for the level will be deducted and will alter your overall rating. Tackling each wave of enemies in ‘Assault’ is best played by quickly assessing the enemy location and ambushing the groups. Pulling these off in a matter of seconds always feels good and keeps the momentum going forward. The odds are in their favour and you need every tool at your disposal to come out on top.
In ‘Hunted’ a never-ending wave of enemies hunt you down and you just need to survive until the timer reaches zero but if you want that higher score, you’ll want to take as many of them out before you exit. Is the risk of engaging in a firefight worth that higher spot in the leaderboards? There are other game modes to unlock and enjoy in The Last of Us Part II: Remastered. There are also some scenarios pairing you with an ally to defend and survive alongside.
Each successful run returns you to the hideout to collect your reward and spend it as you see fit. The workbench becomes available to upgrade your arsenal and a gun cabinet opens with a randomised catalogue of weapons, perks and items.
As you play more enemies, allies, locations, bosses and gameplay elements will be unlocked. This will further expand the game mode with each run you embark on.
Choose your challenge
No Return allows you to choose your difficulty of choice to play with, nothing is locked from the player if they wish to play on the easy ‘Light’ difficulty or extremely challenging ‘grounded’ mode. The only difference is the higher the difficulty chosen will grant the player a larger score multiplier for a higher-end score. This is also included in the daily run. The character for the daily is predetermined but what difficulty and route the player takes to the end is entirely up to them to undertake at their own leisure.
No Return is great fun, each character has a checklist of challenges to compete in. These unlock individual skins to use in the game mode. It is especially great for players who have run the encounters from the level selected in story mode to death. Granting them randomised challenges to test their skills and compare scores with their friends and community.
The opportunity to release enemies, characters and locations from Part I as additional content for No Return is a no-brainer. I hope it can be implemented in the future for more reasons to return down the line.
Being content with cut content
Naughty Dog has included three pieces of cut content from the game, naming them the ‘Lost Levels’. Each of these has an introduction by the game’s director Neil Druckmann and has points of interest littered throughout which will play audio from a developer going into more detail about the level. While these are really short and all three can be finished within thirty minutes, they are a fantastic addition to the game and personally, I hope it sets a trend with future game releases across the board.
I imported my save from the PS4 and after all my trophies were unlocked and I gained my fastest platinum trophy yet, I had access to the lost levels as well as the director’s commentary. Which I enabled for my first playthrough. Fans of Part I who enjoyed the commentary track over the cinematics by Ashley Johnson (Ellie), Troy Baker (Joel) and director Neil Druckmann will enjoy the insights of Part II’s commentary track. Laura Bailey (Abby), Shannon Woodword (Dina) and narrative lead and co-writer Hailey Gross are now here.
The Last of Us Part II: Remastered: Is it worth it?
Yes. If you own a PS5 and have not played The Last of Us Part II yet this is the definitive way to enjoy it. The additional content alone is worth the €10 upgrade. Long load times are gone, it’s visually never looked better and the inclusion of adaptive triggers and haptic feedback make a more overall enjoyable experience. It’s a must-have upgrade for anyone looking to experience the game again or for the first time.
These words were brought to you by the remastered survivor, Lewis Magee.