The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review – A Remaster Worth the Price of Admission

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The Last of Us Part II Remastered picks up after the events of the first game. Joel and Ellie have found their way to Jackson, a refuge for survivors of the outbreak. After getting through the prologue, the player assumes control of Ellie after approximately four years have passed.

Ellie and Joel have become productive members of society in Jackson and have made it their home. Even though Jackson serves as a safe refuge, the rest of the world still suffers from the Cordyceps outbreak. The main story in The Last of Us Part II Remastered features an emotional tale with many twists and turns. Naughty Dog has created a masterpiece, and with this new remastered version, players have access to more content than ever before.

Like in the first game, Naughty Dog hits players with multiple emotional gut punches during the campaign. In the original, most of the story centered on Joel and Ellie. While both characters remain a big part of the story, some new additions to the family ratchet up the tension in the sequel. Ellie has made some friends in Jackson, most notably Jesse and Dina. Joel's brother Tommy and his wife Maria also play important roles. 

Of those new faces making an appearance, Abby stands out the most. Abby has her own group of friends who have traveled the country searching for revenge. After certain events transpire in the first game, Abby's goal revolves around exacting revenge, which becomes one of the central points of the game. Naughty Dog has done an incredible job telling this story and coming at it from angles no one expects.

New Modes Set Benchmark for Future Remasters

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Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The Last of Us Part II initially arrived on the PlayStation 4, but fans will want to pick up this remastered version on PlayStation 5. Naughty Dog has included some impressive new content, setting the bar for remasters. For starters, The Last of Us Part II Remastered features an entirely new mode, giving gamers a new experience in this fictional universe. Naughty Dog calls this mode “No Return.” This new mode features roguelike survival gameplay. 

Combat encounters happen randomly in familiar locations from the campaign. This new mode features four different types of challenges: Hunted, Capture, Holdout, and Assault. In Hunted, the player must beat the clock and survive until the timer says zero. Capture involves valuable supplies from a safe. The Holdout challenge places the player with an AI ally to test his survival skills against an onslaught. Assault will pit a character against waves of enemies. 

Regardless of the type of challenge selected, all involve multiple rounds to get through until the boss encounter. Once a run concludes, a character will return to the safe house with the option of upgrading weapons and gear. It works the same as it does in the campaign. Once a character has enough parts, select the upgrade that will work best. The more time spent in this mode, the more content will become available. For example, players can unlock Dina by completing two encounters with Ellie. Each run has the potential to be completely different, thanks to the randomized nature of this mode. For those who enjoy roguelike modes, Naughty Dog has done a great job with this one.

Look Behind the Curtain at Some Unfinished Missions

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Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Other new content in The Last of Us Part II Remastered includes three “lost levels.” Naughty Dog worked on these missions for the game, but they didn't make it into the final version. Three different levels await gamers who want to see what didn't make the cut. The option also exists to view an introduction video beforehand to provide some nice backstory about the mission and developer commentary in the actual level.

Keep in mind that these levels need work. These missions might also be a bit shorter than fans would like. As a result, one of them doesn't have any spoken dialogue, some animations might be missing, and items of that nature. Naughty Dog gave gamers a rare glimpse behind the curtain to check out three unfinished missions. Hopefully, other developers will follow their lead with remasters in the future.

The remaster also offers some great behind-the-scenes content for those wanting to know more about Naughty Dog's journey to create The Last of Us Part II. Players can view a teaser trailer for the upcoming documentary featuring the game's development. Naughty Dog has also made episodes of The Last of Us official podcast available for anyone wanting to listen to what the developers have to say. This remaster includes four different episodes with an average run time of around 55 minutes, making this an excellent addition to the overall package.

Accessibility Remains a Core Principle

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Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Naughty Dog has made it a habit to include a wide range of accessibility options in their games, and The Last of Us Part II Remastered continues that trend. Naughty Dog tends to go above and beyond here with different options for motion sickness, navigation and traversal, combat accessibility, and more. Some of the options players will get to toggle include enabling infinite breath for swimming underwater or the ability to to skip a difficult puzzle. Combat accessibility includes controlling enemy behavior, such as making it so enemies can't perform flank maneuvers or making it so allies will automatically escape if grabbed. 

For those who might need some aid in the visual department, Naughty Dog includes a colorblind mode in addition to being able to use a high-contrast display and more. It takes a few minutes to explore everything on offer here, and the hope remains that other studios will do the same in their games.

For those who want to have fun and not have to worry about everything, the gameplay modifiers can offer a big help. Different cheats become available once unlocked, such as infinite ammo, infinite crafting, the ability to take out the enemy with one shot, and much more. Players can also have fun with the game's audio, with an 8-bit and 4-bit audio option to unlock. Other extras in the game include a mode to play the guitar without any limits, being able to speedrun the game and then look at a recap, and modifying character skins. The development team put a lot of content here to supplement the main campaign, making Naughty Dog's masterpiece even better.

Bring Saves Over From Playstation 4 Version

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Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Rumors have circulated about The Last of Us Part II Remastered for a while. When Sony announced its existence, this remaster immediately drew some interest from gamers not only because it would be a native PlayStation 5 game but because of all the new content. For the trophy hunters, saved games will transfer over from the PlayStation 4 version as long as that file remains in Sony's cloud.

For those who never got around to playing The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4, this remaster has become the perfect way to experience the next chapter in Joel and Ellie's journey. For those who have seen The Last of Us on HBO but haven't played the games, check out The Last of Us Part I first and then The Last of Us Part II Remastered. It will be time well spent getting up to speed before season two of the television show arrives.

Specs: 9.5/10

The Last of Us Part II: Remastered arrives on the PlayStation 5 January 19.

Please Note: Sony provided us with a code for The Last of Us Part II Remastered on PlayStation 5 for review purposes. 

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Author: Brandon Hofer

Title: Freelance Contributor

Expertise: Entertainment Industry, Video Games, Sports Entertainment

Bio:

Brandon Hofer is a California-based writer who covers the entertainment industry. More specifically, Brandon has covered the gaming industry since 2006, attending and covering the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) every year. Brandon has also attended the Games Developer Conference, Penny Arcade Expo, and various events put on by publishers and developers. Brandon has worked with numerous studios, including Xbox Game Studios, PlayStation, Nintendo, Ubisoft, THQ, Activision, Electronic Arts, and more. Over the years, working with those studios has also allowed Brandon to work with iconic franchises such as the NFL, WWE, and the UFC. Thanks to that experience, Brandon also covers what goes on in the world of sports entertainment, primarily WWE. Brandon's work can be found on Wealth of Geeks as well as Muck Rack.