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A PS5 remake of The Last of Us Part 1 has been rumored for months, and now it’s finally confirmed with a trailer. The huge increase in quality is clear, but how has the technology advanced compared to the original game, and how does the new remake compare to the second entry in the series in 2020? Is it a simple remaster or something more exciting – a remake of TLOU1 in the TLOU2 engine?
‘the Last Of Us’ Episode 2 Makes Major Changes To Game’s Story
While the game is expected to launch in less than 90 days, all we have to try and answer those questions is a mostly cinematic 90-second trailer and some high-quality screenshots. A full technical analysis from Digital Foundry will come later, but there’s still enough here to make some interesting comparisons.
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Right off the bat, comparing the PS4 Pro version of the Last of Us 2014 remaster to the visuals of the PS5 remake, there’s a huge improvement in visual fidelity and asset quality. The initial plan representing the playground has been completely renovated. Buildings have new geometry and higher quality materials, lighting and shadows are more subtle, and high quality foliage now flows over buildings in the same style as The Last of Us Part 2. In a way general, the design area is very similar, but the technology and art are greatly improved with significantly revised or even new resources.
The other trailers are almost all made up of character-driven story cutscenes. Character rendering has taken a huge step forward from the original game – all the expected improvements are here, including more realistic skin, detailed auto-shading, realistic clothing, and completely reworked models. Cutscenes have been revived somewhat. Most of the changes here are subtle but much appreciated, like more detailed lip-syncing and less robotic eye movement. Note that almost all cinematic footage from the original title was pre-rendered and used much higher quality models than would be possible in real time, but these scenes were likely performed live on PS5 hardware, so these comparisons actually favor the previous version. Something
Note that each shot of the PS5 TLOU trailer has a counterpart in the original title, suggesting that the scenes may be a shot-by-shot recreation of the original work. The camera work and positioning isn’t exactly the same, but it’s very similar, suggesting the team is sticking to the original with a focus on improving fidelity.
Perhaps more interesting is measuring this title up to Naughty Dog’s 2020 sequel, The Last of Us Part 2. Right off the bat, it’s clear that both games use the same technology, but we could do better: footage in TLOU2 goes back to a scene shown in the original game, and that footage also appears in the trailer for The Last of Us Part 1, so we’re between Naughty Dog’s last two releases based on the same content. A direct comparison can be obtained.
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And this comparison is fascinating, because there is little to distinguish each version. Some of the clutter appears in different places and the lighting is different in some places, but in some places they look nearly identical, close enough to easily think the two shots were from the same game. It’s a similar story with rendered characters, where it’s impossible to get a 1:1 comparison but the models show similar detail. Based on these limited images, we can assume that we’re looking at a TLOU remake that uses the TLOU2 engine or an improved version of it. And it’s not a bad thing either, because TLOU2 remains a very good title.
On the left is a flashback image of The Last of Us in TLOU2. On the right is the original scene seen in the new game. The biggest clue we have is that The Last of Us Part 1 has a lot more in common with the TLOU2 engine than the original game.
Closing things off on the graphics side, Naughty Dog used an approach somewhat new among big-budget developers at the end of the last generation, skipping the most advanced time-sampling techniques and even forgoing dynamic resolution. The Last of Us Part 2, Uncharted 4, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy run in high quality TAA at 1080p30 on PS4 and 1440p30 on PS4 Pro, but without the oversampling component to produce crisp results. Even on the PS5, Naughty Dog titles have been running at 1440p so far. The Last of Us Part 2 was changed to support 60fps output at 1440p last year, while Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection – a native PS5 title – defaults to 1440p60, although it has a 4K30 mode.
From the trailer, it looks like the TLOU remaster is also aiming for 1440p. A fix for noisy aliasing that appears in hair as seen in The Last of Us Part 2 at 1440p on PS4 Pro and PS5 has less aliasing and greater temporal stability compared to hair in Uncharted 4 at 4K. It’s too early to say for sure, but these and other details point to a similar sight.
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A closer look at the Joel’s Hair alias suggests 1440p instead of 4K as an option in Uncharted 4.
Finally, Naughty Dog promises “modernized gameplay” and combat and exploration improvements, so is there any evidence of this? Not so far. The traversable game areas shown in the trailer look essentially identical in terms of where items are placed and where the player can move. It’s a similar story with quick events that involve more camera movement but happen at the same time. These claims will be proven as we get closer to launch, but so far it’s unclear what has changed. Expanded environments, better AI, and TLOU2-style movement and stealth mechanics are on the wishlist, but the current trailer doesn’t offer much information.
Gameplay aside, The Last of Us Part 1 is the most jaw-dropping effort we’ve seen so far: carefully recreating the original vision using modern rendering technology. Alongside the original title, the improvements are obvious: it’s a massive visual overhaul. As for the technology, some questions remain: is it essentially a remake of the original title with TLOU2 technology, or are there key improvements? Granted, what we’ve seen so far generally points to the former, but the surprise is welcome. We’re still largely in the dark in terms of gameplay, but the promise here is very exciting, if not evident in the footage so far.
However, even after completing the game multiple times on multiple platforms, I’m still waiting for the PS5 to release. Naughty Dog produces some of the strongest technical work in the industry and this remake is no exception. In common with unreleased Uncharted Remasters, it’s also heading to PC, and we can’t wait to see the scale of Naughty Dog’s engine beyond the confines of console technology. Delicious, yes, but what this PS5 update reminds me of is classic game-changer horror.
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This week I played The Last of Us Part 1, the PlayStation 5 remake of Naughty Dogs’ historical horror classic, which was originally released in 2013. (If you haven’t played it or the sequel 2020: I’ll talk about this in detail, it’s probably best to skip this section if you want to avoid spoilers.) The nine-year-old game, which has already been remastered for PlayStation 4: is very defensive about whether it can be sold fairly. Again for £70; For most gamers, no graphics upgrade is worth it.
People praised Naughty Dog’s dedication and attention to detail in this remake. It looks and feels like a really modern game. Personally, playing it makes me think about how the world (and my own life) has changed over the past decade. I wasn’t a parent the first time I played the creepy, terrifying opening scenes of Joel’s young daughter dying in the early hours of a world-destroying fungal zombie outbreak. Hard to bear now. And after experiencing a true pandemic, the whole setup is different.
For the first time, I had a powerful conversation with Ellie, a sad but funny young person who shared this adventure with Joel. (I had forgotten how funny this game is, but Ashley Johnson plays Ellie so wonderfully and with such wonderful irony.) At the time, I thought of Joel as a typical badass in video games: c was a foil, and a lot of people at the time wanted her to play Ellie instead. At this point, I identify a bit more with Joel as a father.