The Last of Us Part 1 PC Graphics Analysis – What is Going on With the PC Port?

The Last of Us Part 1 on PC is a disappointing rendition of one of the best games of recent memory.

Posted By | On 31st, Mar. 2023

The Last of Us Part 1 PC Graphics Analysis – What is Going on With the PC Port?

The Last of Us remains one of Naughty Dog’s best works to date, and the developer hasn’t shied away from milking this masterpiece to the fullest extent. Fans got a full-fledged remake of the game in the form of The Last of Us Part 1 last year, which has just made its way over to the PC platform. So how has the transition been? Are there any problems that you should know about? These are the questions we will try to answer with this feature as we break down this version of the highly anticipated release.

The Last of Us Part 1’s PC port has been developed by Iron Galaxy Studios, which is the same team that put out Batman: Arkham Knight’s infamous PC port back in 2015. Surprisingly, many of the issues that plagued that release are also present here – and what we get is a game where the technical inefficiencies mar down the merits by such a significant margin that it ends up being a frustrating experience.

Performance And Settings

The Last of Us Part 1

The game puts forth a strong first impression with a detailed suite of options to fine tune the experience to your desires. The settings menu features dozens of options ranging from texture quality to volumetric particles and glossy shadows among a host of other things. Clicking on each option gives you a comparison image on the right which clearly shows the differences you can expect from choosing that particular option. There are also options for unlocking framerate, a field of view slider, and full support for Nvidia DLSS and AMD’s FSR 2.0.

But once you get in the game, you will start to notice the real issues with this port. Firstly, The Last of Us Part 1 on PC suffers from some really nasty performance issues, which is all the more shocking when you consider that these results are coming from a high-end PC rig. We tested the game on a system consisting of an AMD Ryzen 9 5950x, RTX 3080Ti, 32 GB of RAM, and SSD storage – which is well over what the game recommends for playing at 1440p with ultra graphics at 60fps.

We tried running the game at these settings with DLSS on to upscale the target image to 4K, but we saw constant dips below the target 60fps which resulted in a pretty stuttery experience. Combine that with frequent loading hitches and slowdowns, and playing the game ends up being a choppy experience which isn’t really enjoyable. This is in stark contrast to the PS5 version, which seems to mostly hold its target frame rate without much issues – regardless of the performance presets you choose.

The PC version also tends to utilize a ton of VRAM, and it was already maxing out 12 GB at the ultra preset on 1440p – which isn’t a good look when it comes to optimization across a wide variety of PC configurations. You see, if it’s already struggling on hardware that’s markedly more powerful than what the game recommends for these settings, the problem will only be compounded on weaker rigs.

Comparison With PS5 And Technical Stability

The Last of Us Part 1

In terms of graphics quality, the ultra preset on the PC is on par with what you get with the quality preset on the PS5. Nvidia DLSS does a great job of upscaling the image without revealing any noticeable artifacts, though it seems to be more computationally taxing than AMD’s FSR for VRAM in particular. As for the presentation itself, the image quality looks to be identical to one another in our tests. Everything from the shadow quality to the draw distance and character models seen on the PS5 quality mode exhibits roughly the same level of fidelity as our (mostly) ultra preset PC version. Suffice to say, both look equally beautiful – though the PC version is prone to a host of other problems that we will be looking at in future sections.

Briefly touching upon stability, the PS5 version of The Last of Us Part 1 is a really technically sound game – so your chances of coming across any game-breaking glitches or crashes are really slim. On the other hand, however, the PC version has a tendency to glitch out every now and then. For instance, we saw Joel’s hair texture glitch out at one time, which is a rather minor issue – but there are plenty of similar instances of textures and character models frequently glitching out which is a far cry from the pristine presentation on the console.

As for crashes, we didn’t experience any hard crashes during our experience – but several others have reported that the game is prone to crashing every now and then. This isn’t really surprising, because The Last of Us Part 1 can consume an exorbitant amount of CPU and GPU resources. So, if you don’t have the highest grade components in your system – it’s possible that the game maxes out your resources and ultimately crashes.

Load Times

In keeping with the trend of recent Sony first-party releases on PC, The Last of Us Part 1 continues the use of compiling shaders at runtime for your particular hardware. During our tests, it took upwards of 30 minutes to compile shaders but many have reported that the same process can take upwards of an hour to complete despite having SSDs with comparable specs – so your mileage might vary. Of course, such problems don’t exist on consoles where developers know the exact hardware configuration and shaders are programmed keeping that in mind.

Once you get past the shader shenanigans, you will also notice that the game takes really long to load. The game took several seconds to load up a save game, which is a really long time when you consider that the game was installed on an SSD. On the other hand, the PS5 version takes less than a handful of seconds to load a save from the main menu, despite having comparable specs on the storage front.

Conclusion

In conclusion, The Last of Us Part 1 on PC is a problematic port that shouldn’t have been released in this state. The game isn’t optimized in the slightest and struggles to run on some of the most powerful hardware on the market. The load times are horrendous, and with several reports of frequent crashing and texture glitches – The Last of Us Part 1’s PC version should be altogether avoided as of now. While Naughty Dog has promised that patches and hotfixes are incoming, the current state of the game is simply unacceptable.

It would seem that Iron Galaxy Studios who released Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection on PC last year without any of these problems would have figured out the porting process by now, but that’s far from the case. All of this paints a really depressing picture for The Last of Us Part 1 on PC, where a masterpiece has been buried under a thick veneer of technical issues. For now, we can only hope that the game gets fixed soon enough – and fans get to experience what they paid for.


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