The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered review: The roguelike No Return mode steals the show

Sony and developer Naughty Dog are back in 2022 they announced The end of us part I, a major PS5 remake of the 2013 title originally released on PS3 (and then remastered for the newly released PS4 a year later). A lot of it came down to the $70 price tag. yes, the game looked incredible, added some new modes for super fans and improved the enemy AI, but the level design and gameplay were the same as the original. Many people called it a money grab.

Here’s the good news The Last of Us Part II Remastered, announced in November, eschews that label for two important reasons. First, it’s a $10 upgrade for people who bought the PS4 versions (or $50). Second, there’s a new roguelike game mode called No Return, which alone is easily worth the price of this upgrade.

Before we jump back in, here’s a high-level overview of what we’ve been up to. The Last of Us Part II Remastered as the title suggests, it is an upgraded version of the 2020 PS4 release. I reviewed that game when it first launched – and almost everything I said in 2020 still applies here because the story and gameplay are unchanged.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered

Sony / Naughty Dog

But, as with any good remaster, the new version looks better than the already impressive PS4 version. Part II Remastered can operate in fidelity or performance modes. The former outputs in 4K and targets 30 fps, while the latter targets 60 fps and displays in 1440p (with upscaled 4K or 1440p output depending on your console settings). There’s also an “unlocked frame rate” feature for TVs that support variable refresh rates.

I usually prefer performance mode. The difference the resolution makes is usually minimal to my eye, and it is here. I’d like to have the fluidity and precision that comes with a higher frame rate. But with the framerate unlocked, the fidelity settings are definitely above 30 and a pretty great balance for those with VRR TVs – although if you’re on ultra-hard Basic mode or attempting an infinite transition, you’ll probably want to go flat. to the performance parameter.

Either way, the game looks amazing, but isn’t wildly different from the original Part II Looked at the PS5. As you’d expect, everything is sharper and more vivid. High frame rates in performance mode are excellent, though the original version should be noted Part II It can also hit 60 fps when played on PS5.

Other niceties besides visuals include full support for the DualSense controller, including excellent use of haptics. The first cut scene of the game shows Part I the main character, Joel, is cleaning the frets on the guitar, and you can feel the slight vibrations from left to right as his hand moves across the neck of the guitar.

There’s also full support for DualSense adaptive triggers, so you feel different resistance and feedback depending on the gun you’re using. As with most games, the DualSense features aren’t something that will be at the forefront of your mind when you’re playing, but there’s no doubt that they add a nice level of extra immersion to the experience.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered It’s not just a visual upgrade – there’s a lot of new content. Most notably, No Return, an addictive combat experience I’ve already spent a ridiculous amount of time on. The high-level overview of No Return is that it’s a series of random encounters with the four main enemy factions in the game: the WLF, the Seraphites, the Rattlers, and of course the Infected.

Some encounters require clearing three waves of enemies; in others, you are hunted by endless hordes until the timer runs out. There’s one that requires you to capture a safe from a wave of enemies in a limited amount of time, and another where you have to defend your ally against a large horde of infected that keep coming. After five levels you will reach the “boss”. There are six total boss levels that you gradually unlock by completing a run without dying. However, if you die at any stage of the run, you will be sent back to the beginning.

Between each encounter, you can craft upgrades for your weapons and purchase new gear from the trading post to help you survive increasingly difficult stages. And there are a ton of different mods that affect how each level plays. For example, you might randomly get a mod that gives you health when you’re hit by a melee attack, or end up with a mod that makes infected enemies invisible, just shadows in your flashlight. Sometimes the level can be changed, crafting an item will give you parts to upgrade a weapon, or a dark black filter will be applied. These mods aren’t in every level, and only two will appear at a time, so it doesn’t feel like there’s too much craziness on the run. However, they can definitely shake off what could be another familiar phase.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered: No rollback mode

Sony / Naughty Dog

I’m just digging how much you can customize this experience. There are a total of 10 unlockable characters that you can play as, both from the Jackson crew (Ellie, Dina, Jesse, Tommy and Joel) and from the characters you meet in Seattle (Abby, Lev, Yara, Manny and Mel). Each has different traits (Ellie gets more attachments, Joel can’t run but is more resistant to melee attacks, Lev focuses on stealth, etc.). Between the different characters, the different signature weapons they have, and all the different weapons and player upgrades you can acquire on the run, each Flashback experience will be wildly different.

No Return has a lot of details to talk about, but suffice to say it’s extremely addictive. easily Well worth the $10 upgrade. If they add this mode to the PS4 version The end of us part II, I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend fans to buy it. I’ve seen some very impressive fight video hosts Part II since the game came out and I’m sure we’re about to get another wave as people show off their narrow escapes and dominant destruction of No Return Infect hordes. It’s a lot of fun – although I’ll admit it requires occasional long pauses to get out of the murderous mindset the extremely violent tone demands.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered

Sony / Naughty Dog

No Return is the biggest addition to the game to date, but there’s even more new content for die-hard fans. All major cinematics from the base game now feature additional audio commentary from director Neil Druckmann, writer Haley Gross, and actors Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, and Laura Bailey. The end of us part II has a vast, complex, and sometimes controversial storyline, and hearing behind-the-scenes conversations about how it all comes together is a great way to delve deeper into the game’s creation.

Similarly, Naughty Dog included three “lost levels” that were pretty rough, but showcased some ideas for the world and Ellie’s character, complete with audio commentary on why the developers drew it and why it was ultimately abandoned. My favorite happens before the main scene between Ellie and Dinah in Jackson. It’s Ellie wandering around a festival, having a few drinks, chatting with other characters, playing with the kids in town, and trying out some carnival games. The setting changes the mechanics of the game that are usually used to enforce violence and instead casts them in a completely different light.

These levels are far from finished – the aforementioned Jackson scene has no dialogue, only subtitles. And the textures, facial expressions, and mechanics all definitely feel rough. They are also fairly quick experiences, probably lasting between five and 10 minutes. A treat for die-hard fans only, but a treat nonetheless.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered: guitar free play

Sony / Naughty Dog

Rounding out the package are a bunch of new unlockable character skins, including the adorable Ellie in an astronaut suit complete with helmet. The already extensive Photo Mode has received a few improvements, such as lights you can place around the scene to increase the drama. And there’s a silly but fun “guitar free play” mode that you can experiment with, with an enhanced version of the interludes, where you play the guitar to kick off the main story beats. Many enterprising players have already created some pretty wild creations using the in-game guitar, and now you can switch between multiple guitar types (acoustic, nylon string, banjo) and add effects that really open up the creative possibilities.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered

Sony / Naughty Dog

If you are interested in The Last of Us and haven’t played it Still Part II, this is the best way to do it. I still highly recommend the game – it’s an intense, grueling journey that separates some of my favorite characters, but it’s an undeniably epic adventure. It’s not “fun” in the traditional sense, but it’s engaging. As I write in 2020, many things stand out: moments of extreme tension, moments that made me squeal in shock or surprise, thought-provoking drama, and even unexpected joy amidst the dark reality of Ellie and Abby’s dual journeys.

But if you’ve played the original, is this remaster worth picking up? If you’re a fan of the series, the $10 upgrade is definitely worth it. The return is worth the price of admission on its own, and all the graphical upgrades, controller upgrades, and bonus content are things you’ll appreciate. Like I said in my review The end of us part I — if you’re someone like me who’s going to pick up this game and play it every couple of years to experience the story, this is the best way to do it.

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