Ever since The Last of Us Part II launched on PlayStation 4 way back in June of 2020, I’ve been wondering when Naughty Dog would pull the trigger on a rerelease for Sony’s latest console. This is essentially the goal of The Last of Us Part II Remastered but with a very important question attached to it.
Does this game feel like just a straightforward remaster with only incremental changes or is the addition of a No Return mode and other improvements enough to make the overall experience feel fresh? Before we answer this question, let’s first dive deeper into what this critically acclaimed sequel is all about.
It Can’t Be For Nothing
The Last of Us Part II can be best described as an unrelenting revenge story that illustrates how a cycle of violence can alter the lives of many. Set 4 years after the events of the first game, Ellie and Joel have adjusted to life in Jackson before an untimely death rips everything apart. The result leads to Ellie going on a warpath in search of answers and revenge. Players are also introduced to a new playable protagonist in Abby who has a meaningful backstory and is very determined to achieve her goals no matter what.
If you enjoyed the narrative in both the first game and the TV show, then you may like this game but be forewarned that it can be divisive at times. Given both the events and the timeline in which this game was originally made, the tone is even darker as well as the brutal nature of the violence. While I didn’t have any issues with these aspects, I do want to set expectations for those who might not have played it yet.
Overall, both the story and gameplay are easily some of the best work that Naughty Dog has ever done. Neil Druckmann and his team have said countless times that this is the most ambitious game that they have ever made and you will feel this the very moment that you start playing. The native PS5 remaster is largely the same experience but will full support of the Dualsense controller and a few other bonuses that I’ll elaborate on shortly. In the meantime, for more details on the PS4 version of the game, please check out our Contributing Editor Tatjana Vejnovic’s full review.
Survival of The Fittest
The No Return Mode is both the new addition and main selling point behind this remastered Last of Us Part II experience. Described as a single-player roguelike survival mode, No Return allows you to choose one character and complete a run of randomized encounters in a series of waves.
Think of the Horde mode from Gears of War but with boss battles and fewer enemies at each wave. As you progress through each stage and clear certain objectives, you unlock never-before playable characters, additional mode options, and modifiers to upgrade your weapons and abilities at the workbench. Once you die, the run ends and you can choose whether or not to start a fresh, new run.
While I did enjoy the No Return Mode, it feels like a missed opportunity not to present this as a multiplayer mode. We all know about the canceled Factions project that everyone was waiting on, but this particular idea is something that is best suited as either a co-op or multiplayer experience. There are even some encounters where they provide you with an AI computer-controlled partner to help you out. Just the simple fact that this randomized pairing could even happen shows that they definitely could have done more with this mode right out of the gate.
The Other Bonus Content
The Last of Us Part II Remastered also includes access to three lost levels and a Guitar free play mode. The three lost levels are The Jackson Party, Seattle Sewers, and The Hunt. This previously cut content takes place at various parts throughout the campaign and has developer commentary that explains why this content was cut. The Guitar free play mode is self-exclamatory as it’s designed to let you do nothing but play the instrument to your heart’s content.
In addition to having a permadeath setting for the campaign mode, several unlockables become available as you playthrough and complete the story. These include character skins, a filter gallery, gameplay modifiers, and a speedrun recap. These are all nice bonuses that are best suited for fans who plan to complete the campaign multiple times.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered is without a doubt the definitive version of the sequel, but is only worth playing if you never played the PS4 version released back in 2020. While the No Return mode can offer a little bit of fun, it can get tiresome rather quickly since there is no multiplayer option. Naughty Dog has only released remasters since the PlayStation 5 launched so it’s about time we learn about what they are working on now. Hopefully, we get a definitive answer on this and more as the year goes on.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Last of Us Part II Remastered for the PlayStation 5 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.