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The Last of Us Remastered review

The Last of Us screenshot 8
The Last of Us Remastered
“The Last of Us Remastered is the same great game it was in 2013, but Naughty Dog’s upgrade could have used more time to bake.”
  • Exceptional work of storytelling
  • Complex cast of characters
  • Remastered visuals, pack-in content make this a definitive version of
  • Shaky AI too frequently breaks the illusion

You’ve killed someone, so you’re the villain. Though he was trying to kill the young girl you promised to protect, so you’re really the hero. Except he was only defending himself from a perceived threat while he was out scavenging for a few morsels of food to feed his family with. So, what the hell are you now?

The Last of Us is a game about committing horrible crimes in the name of a noble cause. It’s a journey of self-preservation at any cost. Of the two main characters, Joel and Ellie, there’s only one true protagonist. How Joel’s actions read by the time the credits roll is wide open to interpretation – that’s the genius of this story, really – but he is not what many would call a “good” man. He’s simply a survivor.

The Last of Us is a game about committing horrible crimes in the name of a noble cause.

The story follows Joel as he takes on the job of escorting Ellie to a secret medical laboratory. It all plays out against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world that’s been overrun by the flesh-eating, zombie-like “Infected.” Ellie is a special girl, and the thing that makes her special may prove to be the key to saving humankind.

At its heart, The Last of Us is a stealth-focused action game that puts a premium on resource management. There are a handful of simple environmental puzzles to be solved, but much of the play time is spent sneaking around groups of enemies, either to dispatch them quietly, one at a time, or to circumvent them completely. None of that changes in The Last of Us Remastered, which brings Naughty Dog’s 2013 masterpiece to PlayStation 4.

The most noticeable change in Remastered is, not surprisingly, the visual upgrade. The Last of Us looked great on PlayStation 3, but the level of newfound fidelity in the game’s textures and visual effects is immediately noticeable on PS4. The facial animations don’t always measure up, as the new textures are simply “painted” on top of existing character models, but the visual boost in The Last of Us Remastered is significant.

The re-release also takes advantage of the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller in a variety of ways. Aiming and shooting are now automatically mapped to the L2/R2 buttons, to take better advantage of the newer controller’s trigger-style grips. The DualShock 4’s built-in speaker is also put to occasional use, for flashlight sound effects and audio from collectible voice recorders.

Then, there’s a whole host of additional content: the full, multiplayer Factions mode, complete with its two, previously released downloadable content packs; the story-driven Left Behind add-on; optional commentary tracks on the in-game cinematics; and, compliments of a day-one update, the same Photo Mode that proved to be so popular in Infamous: Second Son.

What’s unfortunately not improved on is the quality of the play in The Last of Us. Naughty Dog crafted a tremendous story and built very satisfying gameplay to complement it, but it’s not enough to sustain the roughly 15-hour completion time. It’s a credit to the writing that you want to keep on pushing through, but the slow pace and demanding stealth-driven action start feeling repetitive far too quickly.

For all the improvements, The Last of Us Remastered is not quite as spruced up as it could have been.

Sharper AI might have helped in this remastered PS4 release, but all of Naughty Dog’s development efforts appear to have gone into improving the presentation. Even at higher difficulties, enemies flip wildly between stone dumb and preternaturally aware of their surroundings. You might load your last checkpoint to find a swarm of baddies zeroing in on your position… or you might see them simply frozen in place.

Some of these issues appear to stem from basic performance issues, things that could be addressed in a patch. Seeing Joel suddenly start running at a 45-degree angle to the ground is jarring, sure, but it’s an obvious glitch. Other problems are more likely the product of a self-empowered AI occasionally going rogue. Enemies move freely through The Last of Us’ huge environments, and sometimes their signals cross. That’s where it would have been nice to see some improvements.

At its best moments, enemies in The Last of Us behave intelligently-yet-convincingly; they’ll work in groups and fan out to take flanking positions, but they can also be fooled if you slip away unseen. But at worst, they’re an unpredictable mess, either making a beeline for Joel’s seemingly safe, out-of-the-way hiding spot or getting caught in comical AI loops that cause them to run around in circles or repeatedly teabag the ground beneath their feet.

The Last of Us screenshot 4

Those aren’t the only breaks in the game’s illusion. Joel is joined for most of his adventure by one or more companions. Naughty Dog worked to ensure that The Last of Us didn’t turn into a giant escort mission, but the big cheat for accomplishing that appears to have been making all allies invisible to enemies until Joel is actually spotted. More than once, you’ll see Ellie run directly into a patrolling baddie, only to be ignored.

These are frustrating breaks that capably illustrate where the boundaries lie for this “remaster.” Naughty Dog’s grand post-apocalyptic road trip looks better than it ever has before, but the code beneath the visuals is as creaky as any late-era console release that strains the limits of its home machine’s processing power.

For all the improvements, The Last of Us Remastered is not quite as spruced up as it could have been. The gameplay falters more frequently than it should around frustrating technical hiccups that are all the more glaring alongside Naughty Dog’s bountiful upgrades to the presentation. We can forgive what must have been a truncated development schedule for this port, but we still have to point out the shortcomings where we see them.

Let’s be clear though: The Last of Us won scores of “Game of the Year” awards in 2013 for good reason. It’s got a believably drawn cast of complex characters and one of the sharpest narratives in all of video games. Joel and Ellie’s journey is an experience that no one should miss, and The Last of Us Remastered is the version to get if you’ve got the hardware for it.


  • Exceptional work of storytelling
  • Complex cast of characters
  • Remastered visuals, pack-in content make this a definitive version of


  • Shaky AI too frequently breaks the illusion

Editors' Recommendations

Adam Rosenberg
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Previously, Adam worked in the games press as a freelance writer and critic for a range of outlets, including Digital Trends…
The Last of Us Part 1: best weapon upgrades
Ellie aiming a rifle.

Everything is scarce in The Last of Us Part 1. You will constantly be running low on supplies, ammo, health, and maybe even hope. This game functions a lot like survival horror games, in which managing your inventory is just as important as being able to land that critical headshot. Your arsenal, in terms of firearms, is not terribly large, but you do have the ability to upgrade each weapon in a number of ways to help you make the most of every precious bullet you find.

Weapon upgrades, just like skill upgrades, are not free -- they both cost a limited resource. However, weapon upgrades also have an extra layer of restriction in that you can't simply stop and upgrade a weapon whenever you feel like it. When you are able to upgrade, you also have to consider which gun you want to invest in, how you want to invest in it, or if you want to save up for a future weapon or a more expensive upgrade later. It's a delicate balance, but we've picked the best weapon upgrades to help you survive your journey in The Last of Us Part 1.
How to upgrade weapons

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The Last of Us Part 1: All Training Manual locations
ps now vs xbox game pass the last of us remastered

Joel has managed to survive for over 25 years in the Clicker invested world, but even he can learn a few new tricks. He's already adept with any gun you can get your hands on and can slap together basic materials to make some useful tools, but just about everything you have access to can be made better with the right training. Unfortunately, it's a little late for Joel and Ellie to enroll in a survival course, so reading up is the next best option.

The Last of Us Part 1 has 12 hidden Training Manuals you can collect that all improve one of your tools in a meaningful way. Some of these are so powerful that you'll wonder how you managed without them, and yet some are so well hidden that you can go through the game multiple times without finding them all. If you want to become an expert Boy Scout, turn on your Listen Mode and pay close attention to our guide on finding all the Training Manuals in The Last of Us Part 1.
Training Manual 1 -- Shiv: Sharpening
Your first Training Manual to grab is in Bill's Town. You will have a hard time missing it, but after you escape from Bill's leg snare trap and follow him into the bar, one of the many objects to pick up is the training manual right on the bar itself.

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The Last of Us Part 1: All toolbox locations
Joel places a rifle on a table in The Last of Us Part I.

Survival in The Last of Us Part 1 will come down to equal parts stealth, skill, and resource management. As Joel and Ellie go farther and farther west, the challenges they face will only become more daunting, asking more from the player in terms of all of these attributes. Aside from upgrading Joel himself with a few skills, the main way you will keep up with the harsher conditions of the game is through upgrading your weapons. However, you will realize very early on that many upgrades are locked.

The only way to fully upgrade your arsenal is by finding five toolboxes. These simple tools all unlock a new level of upgrades for your weapons, but just like anything else in The Last of Us Part 1, they're very easy to overlook as you're sneaking through an area or just admiring the amazing environments. Since there's no backtracking in this game, missing one means you won't be able to max out any upgrades on your first playthrough, so make a note of all the toolbox locations in The Last of Us Part 1 listed here.
First tool location
The first toolbox won't come until you make it to Chapter 4 of the game, called Bill's Town. After navigating his traps (or at least most of them), you will meet up with Bill and eventually make your way to his home base of sorts in an abandoned church. Here, he will show you how to make the very useful Nail Bomb item, but don't leave the area to test it out just yet. Before you leave the basement, check the back corner for a shelf with the red toolbox sitting on it.
Second tool location
Very early in Chapter 5, Pittsburgh, you will be attacked by a group of survivors. After taking them out, you will need to lift up a garage door to progress. Once inside, look to the shelves immediately to your left for the toolbox.
Third tool location
Moving on to Chapter 6 now, follow the main path through the sewers until you get to the point where Ellie repairs a generator and Henry pulls you out of the water. Follow the tunnel forward, but watch for a side path on your left side. Take the path to a small room with the toolbox lying on the ground.
Fourth tool location
Back in school during Chapter 8, The University, go all the way into the science building but don't go up to the second floor quite yet. At the end of the hall, just past a vending machine, is a locked door you will need a shiv to pry open. Use one, get inside, and the toolbox will be sitting front and center on one of the lab tables.
Fifth tool location
Our final toolbox is waiting in Chapter 10. After an awkward start, eventually, you will come to the infamous giraffe scene and then trigger a cutscene. After it ends, you will be in the abandoned FEMA camp. Look for the open tent nearest the bus station and go inside. Directly to the right of the entrance is a table with the final toolbox sitting on top.

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