The Last of Us part 1 is an excellent game, but is the $70 dollar remake worth your time and money? The short answer is it’s complicated. I’m going to break down all the new additions and share thoughts on Naughty Dog’s controversial remake, from the improved visuals to the new extra features. There’s a lot here, but if you’ve already played The Last of Us (TLOU), and the story didn’t do much for you, then maybe you should wait. Fans will really appreciate all the new improvements though. The sound design in particular is really great. The clickers are more terrifying, the gunshots ring in your ears, and the combat sounds more impactful. Overall, I am of the opinion that The Last of Us is a masterpiece. It was one of my favorite games of 2013. “Is Last of Us Part 1 a remake?” is a question often asked. Technically, the PS4 version was a remaster, not a remake. But with terms like “TLOU remake” floating around, it’s understandable why there might be some confusion.
A remake typically implies a game has been rebuilt from the ground up, whereas a remaster usually means the game has been enhanced to fit modern standards. Now, in case you’re unfamiliar with this series or are just confused by this naming convention, The Last of Us is a third-person action-adventure game first released for the PlayStation 3 by Naughty Dog way back in 2013. It was then re-released a year later as The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4 and offered a few modest visual and performance improvements. The Last of Us Part 1, however, is a top-to-bottom remake of this original experience, using a modified version of the engine that was used to build The Last of Us Part 2 back in 2020. The result is a dramatically overhauled visual presentation with redone character models, environments, lighting effects, animations, AI, and even a few new accessibility features and UI redesigns. While I love the gameplay, even more so in the remake, the real draw of The Last of Us is its story and characters. The story in Part 1 is identical, so if you were hoping for nods to The Last of Us 2, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. As Naughty Dog puts it, this is a faithful recreation of the original game. Now, if you’ve never played The Last of Us and you own a PS5, then I don’t think you’ll regret paying $70 for that experience. There’s a reason why the story is exactly the same as it was nine years ago: it’s because it’s really freaking good.
However, and this is a big however, you can technically play The Last of Us Remastered PS5 right now for no extra cost if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber. It’s an inferior version, but if you want to experience the story without a $70 buy-in, this is probably the way to go. When comparing The Last of Us Remastered vs Part 1, the visuals won’t look as sharp and the combat won’t be as refined. But, overall, The Last of Us PS5 is still a brilliant game.
Now, what if you’ve already played The Last of Us? The meat of this remake is visual and performance enhancements, an impressive suite of accessibility options, and a bunch of quality of life improvements. Basically, it looks better, runs smoother, and plays tighter. Let’s start with the visuals of The Last of Us PS4 vs PS5 (and even vs PS3).
As we’ve come to expect, there are a couple of rendering options: fidelity and performance. Fidelity favors resolution over performance with a native 4K resolution while targeting 30 frames per second. Performance, on the other hand, has a dynamic resolution and runs at a stable 60 frames per second. I swapped between both settings during my adventure; both ran great, but I definitely lean more towards the performance setting, especially during combat. There’s also an unlocked frame rate setting if you have a high refresh or variable refresh rate TV. No matter what rendering mode you choose, though, the game looks astounding. I don’t know if I’d say The Last of Us Part 1 looks a lot better than The Last of Us for PS4, but it’s really hard going back to the original, especially the PS3 version. Everything just looks so sharp and well-defined in the newest TLOU remake. The characters are more expressive, and the lighting, good lord, the lighting! If you’re like me, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the improved photo mode.
Part 1 also has an overhauled weapon crafting menu. While the weapon upgrades are the same, you can now watch Joel upgrade his weapons in real time. Personally, I love this stuff, and I’m happy to see it in Part 1, but it’s not really a game-changer. The more noticeable change to the presentation is the improved audio and sound design. The 3D audio support gives more weight to the journey. Joel’s punches sound meatier, gunshots have a satisfying crack to them, and the dialogue sounds cleaner than ever. I swapped between headphones and TV speakers during my playthroughs, and the difference is night and day. If you really want to get swept up in the world of The Last of Us, try to play with headphones whenever possible. The game feels a lot better as well. The aiming is responsive, the character animations look and feel more fluid, and the haptic feedback in the triggers makes weapons feel a bit weightier.
Some combat encounters have also been tweaked, most notably the bloater fights. The glowing bulges on the bloater’s skin are gone, like in The Last of Us Part 2. This means you don’t have to be as precise when you fight them; just shoot them a lot or burn them, and they’ll die eventually. Unfortunately, a lot of the gameplay mechanics from The Last of Us Part 2 didn’t make it into Part 1. The ability to go prone and jump are the obvious ones. It makes sense given The Last of Us environments weren’t designed with a crawling and jumping Joel in mind. But since this has been marketed as a remake, I was kind of hoping we’d see this in Part 1. The most welcome additions to last of us Part 1 are its accessibility options and customizable difficulty. Just like in Part 2, the accessibility options are immense. If visual impairments or motion sickness has prevented you from playing the original, this remake should significantly lower the bar of entry. You can fully customize the difficulty too, ranging from how common resources are to how aggressive enemies are. As long as you don’t play on permadeath or grounded mode, these settings can be changed at any time. The AI also feels much more reactive and dynamic, especially on harder difficulties. According to Naughty Dog, they basically lifted the AI from Part 2 and dropped it into Part 1. I’m sure it was a bit more complicated than that, but you get the gist. Aggressive enemies will flank and pressure you, while passive enemies hide from view and wait for you to make a move. Combat, in general, feels scrappier and more intense.
Stealth and Exploration:
One of the areas that feel like a major upgrade in the PS5 remake is stealth. Utilizing the PS5’s capabilities, stealth mechanics have been improved to provide better feedback and immersion. Environments are designed with more strategic cover points, and you can now hear the heartbeat of Joel during tense situations, which is accentuated by the DualSense’s haptic feedback. The whispers, footsteps, and even the distant growls of clickers feel more real than ever.
In Last of us Part 1, Exploring the environment is also more rewarding this time around. The destructible environ ments add a new layer of realism and strategy, and they have scattered more collectibles and notes throughout the world, providing deeper insight into the tragic tales of those who didn’t survive the outbreak.
I would be remiss not to mention the surprise inclusion of a revamped Factions multiplayer mode. Though the original had a multiplayer component, this one feels more fleshed out, offering a variety of modes, weapons, and customization options. There’s a new emphasis on team play, and the matches I played were intense, tactical, and incredibly satisfying. It might not be the main reason to pick up the game, but it’s a welcome addition that adds value to the package.
In conclusion, The Last of Us PS5 remake is a technical marvel, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in gaming today. For newcomers, this is undoubtedly the definitive way to experience Joel and Ellie’s journey. For veterans, while the core story remains unchanged, the plethora of enhancements and improvements might make it worth diving back into the post-apocalyptic world. Whether it’s worth the full $70 price tag is subjective. If you’re looking for a groundbreaking narrative experience with polished gameplay and graphics, it’s hard to argue against it. However, if you’ve recently played the original and are on the fence, maybe wait for a sale. Remember, “Endure and survive.”