The rumors, sparse as they are, were true: The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is real. Launching on January 19th, 2024, for PS5, it features two graphics modes – Fidelity Mode for native 4K and Performance Mode with upscaled 1440p to 4K. It will include DualSense support, improved visual details, a new roguelite mode called No Return, and the Lost Levels, early development slices that didn’t make it in the final game.
If that wasn’t enough, developer commentary with director Neil Druckmann, narrative lead Halley Gross and actors Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey is also included, along with new outfits, Speedrun Mode, additional accessibility features and more. You can even enter a guitar free play mode to spend some time mastering the craft (in-game, of course).
But wait, that’s not all. If you own the game on PS4, you can upgrade to the PS5 version for $10, though credit where it’s due, this initiative has been followed since the Horizon Forbidden West debacle. Your saves can also transfer over, in case you started the game at some point, had an inkling of a remaster being announced in 2023 and decided to wait.
It all sounds pretty good, so obviously, there’s some controversy. Some question whether a remaster is necessary. Others are less polite and have already begun mocking the fact that Naughty Dog is remastering a title which is three years old. Cue the “I remember playing this at the dawn of the Stone Age, good to get a remaster” to joke about how “old” it is.
Then you have those who are just plain sick of The Last of Us already and want Naughty Dog to work on something new. There have only been two games, a remake, and two remasters in its ten-year existence – not to mention a hit TV show – but that’s too much, man! Whatever you do, don’t tell them that a standalone multiplayer title spin-off is in the works (at least per its director) or that Season 2 of the HBO series starts filming in 2024 with a target for launching in 2025.
Then there are those wondering why there still isn’t a remaster/remake of FromSoftware’s Bloodborne remaster (likely targeting the sentiment at Sony and not Naughty Dog). They would probably like to enjoy it in native 4K or 60 FPS, maybe with some new content that they wouldn’t mind paying for. Sounds familiar, but I digress.
Firstly, let’s not pretend there isn’t any demand for a PS5 upgrade to The Last of Us Part 2. It launched just a few months before the console was released worldwide and has featured on many lists of desired upgrades since then. Yes, Naughty Dog did release a patch to add 60 frames per second for the PS4 version on PS5, but that’s more or less it. This is the upgrade that fans have been waiting for.
While some may begrudge it for not being free, Sony and Naughty Dog likely thought the same thing. If it was going to monetize an upgrade, it couldn’t just release it as is for $10 (otherwise, there would be backlash, which is ironic). So, theoretically, it added all these new features, some of which have likely been in the works for some time, for more value.
Also, while its “remastered” tag may attract controversy, it’s always been a means for Sony to re-release its previous-generation titles on its current-gen console. Look no further than The Last of Us Remastered, which launched on the PS4 only one year after the PS3 version and didn’t offer a paid upgrade option or transferring saves. The new features and content in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered dwarfs its predecessor, so it’s also a better deal.
It’s not like the new content is throwaway, but even if you discount the Lost Levels, developer commentary, graphics modes and more, the new mode, No Return, looks substantial. It’s essentially The Last of Us version of The Mercenaries from Resident Evil, as players take down various enemies in randomized encounters to face the boss. More characters are unlocked over time and have unique abilities. As a way to enjoy the game’s combat outside of the story in a more replayable setting, it’s pretty enticing.
Of course, there’s the last question. Why isn’t Naughty Dog working on something brand new instead of returning to The Last of Us yet again?
Forget the fact that co-president and head of creative Neil Druckmann has already confirmed that he’s working on a new game. A recent tweet from Jordan Middler of the VGC podcast alleges that The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is a project for new hires at Naughty Dog. Druckmann’s team is reportedly “full steam ahead on” an original title, and the development of one project isn’t taking away from the other.
Naughty Dog is a studio that takes time to make new games, which isn’t always an approach that makes for the best fiscal returns. Thus, the remasters and remakes we’ve been seeing since The Last of Us Part 2 launched years ago. Even if the studio wasn’t trying to avoid layoffs by giving its staff something to do, assigning new developers to a remaster of its most recent hit makes sense.
It familiarizes them with the technology, overall workflow and development process at Naughty Dog. If a brand new project starts or another team needs more developers, it can utilize those familiar with the process instead of relatively inexperienced employees. This isn’t a revolutionary approach or anything – it just makes the most sense, especially when almost no game company is safe from layoffs (even Naughty Dog, which reportedly laid off 25 contract workers in October).
If you want to take a cynical approach to the whole deal, you could say it’s a larger industry issue regarding remasters and remakes. The industry isn’t opposed to leveraging your nostalgia and love for an IP to get a few extra bucks, it’s a shame how they only think about their bottom line at the end of the day, and so on.
However, it’s also worth remembering that remakes and remasters are still happening because people keep buying them (the good ones, that is). It’s also why some companies can re-release one or two of their most popular games on various platforms over the years with tweaks and new features.
The best one can hope for is a publisher or developer not releasing a half-hearted current-gen port for a previous-gen game and calling it a remaster (see: Saints Row 4: Re-Elected on Xbox One and PS4). Or even just re-releasing a title with barely any changes, as Activision did with Prototype 1 and 2 on the PS4 and Xbox One back in 2015.
Understandably, some are still salty about The Last of Us Part 1 for various reasons, which doubtless contributes to the backlash behind The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered. Whether some feel it’s necessary or not, PS5 support is something that many fans have waited for – all the extra features are just the icing on top, if not the reason to justify its price.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.