A lot’s been said about The Last of Us Part 1 and whether or not it’s different enough from the original The Last of Us to justify its existence, much less its price. Of course, we can’t really answer that question until we’ve actually played the game, but though there’s disappointment out there over some of the heavily requested features the game isn’t going to have, Naughty Dog has confirmed that it will have plenty of changes and improvements beyond that. As we count the days down to the launch of The Last of Us Part 1, here, we’re going to talk about some of those changes.
To kick things off with the obvious changes, The Last of Us Part 1 is, of course, going to look noticeably better than the PS3 original, or even its PS4 remaster. While it doesn’t look like players should expect any significant changes when it comes to things such as story or level design (or any changes at all, maybe), it’s clear even at a glance that the remake is a big visual leap over the original. From the lighting to the environments and the details they’re populated with to the character and enemy models, The Last of Us Part 1 has clearly made some very noticeable improvements.
On the gameplay side of things, there are many who’re disappointed that some of The Last of Us Part 2’s biggest improvements – i.e. the ability to dodge or go prone – aren’t being implemented in the upcoming remake, but in their absence, Naughty Dog says it has instead focused on improving the AI. As per the developer, The Last of Us Part 1 will feature much more intense combat and stealth encounters, with enemies trying to flank you in combat, communicating with each other during stealth sequences as they did in The Last of Us Part 2, and more. Companion AI is also seeing improvements, which means that unlike the original game, in the remake, they’ll actually try to stay out of enemies’ sightlines when you’re in stealth.
MOTION MATCHING AND ANIMATIONS
This seems to be another point that Naughty Dog has really emphasized every time it’s spoken about The Last of Us Part 1. The remake does, of course, feature improved facial animations in cutscenes, with the developers saying that they’re now much closer to the actors’ original performances, complete with all of their facial nuances. On the gameplay front, Naughty Dog has also used the algorithm-based motion matching technology that it implemented in The Last of Us Part 2, which, in theory, should make for smoother and more fluid movement.
One aspect of The Last of Us Part 2 that is seemingly being brought over into the remake pretty much as is is the workbenches. The Last of Us Part 2’s workbenches were a major step up over the original game, sporting a ridiculous level of detail on the weapons and elaborate animations tied to their customizations. The remake will see those improvements implemented as well, which is great to see, even if it is a relatively minor upgrade in the grand scheme of things.
Here, The Last of Us Part 1 does deserve a lot of credit, though given how proactive Naughty Dog has been with the improvements it’s made on the accessibility front, that shouldn’t come as any surprise. The Last of Us Part 1 has over 60 accessibility options, more than even The Last of Us Part 2 did, and this includes things like input options and remapping, gameplay assists, HUD scaling and customization, options for prompts and indicators, camera settings, navigation and puzzle assists, a text-to-speech option, audio cues, and much more. The remake also introduces a new audio description mode for both gameplay and cinematics.
The Last of Us, unlike its sequel, featured a number of different skins that players could apply to Joel and Ellie for their playthroughs. For the remake, Naughty Dog is bringing the feature back. In fact, The Last of Us Part 1 is going to have an expanded pool of costumes to choose from, though there’s no word on the exact number of the options that will be available. On top of that, the remake will also add weapon skins, which will be a first for the series. Some of the weapons that we’ve seen a few skins for so far are the pump shotgun, the bow, the 9mm pistol, and Ellie’s handgun. Obviously, this is one of the smaller changes the remake is making, but it’s an addition worth mentioning.
Just like the aforementioned costumes, this is another smaller addition, but it’s a nice bonus to have at the very least. Naughty Dog has confirmed that The Last of Us Part 1 will have a dedicated model viewer that, as its name suggests, will let you view all of the game’s character and enemy models at your leisure. You’ll be able to maneuver them around, zoom in and out, and study their minutest details. Again, it’s not exactly a killer new feature, no, but it sure is a cool little addition nonetheless.
This is one of the biggest differences between the original and the remake, and at the same time one of the biggest knocks against the latter according to many. The Last of Us’ multiplayer mode Factions is a fan-favourite, to say the very least, and it was certainly missed in The Last of Us Part 2. Unfortunately, the upcoming remake isn’t going to bring the multiplayer mode back either. That said, given the fact that Naughty Dog has a separate AAA Factions project in the works, that isn’t exactly surprising, even though it certainly is a little disappointing.
Naughty Dog’s post-launch addition of a permadeath mode in The Last of Us Part 2 proved to be hugely popular, and the developer is bringing the mode back for the upcoming remake. It’ll work similarly to how it function in The Last of Us Part 2. When you’re beginning your game, you’ll get the option of how much progress you will lose upon death. Upon dying, you can restart either to the beginning of the chapter that you’re on, or the act that you’re on, or the entire game. Just like in The Last of Us Part 2, you’ll also get a screen upon death that’ll summarize your performance, including how you died.
A completely new addition for the series in The Last of Us Part 1 is Speedrun mode, which, as its name suggests, is made for those who’re challenging themselves to get through a playthrough of the game as quickly as possible. Speedrun mode will feature a small timer on the screen that will tell you how long your playthrough has been going, and also give information about how far into the game you are. Hopefully, Naughty Dog will tie this to leaderboards of some sort to incentivize more people to check it out than one would ordinarily expect.