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The Last of Us Part 1: best weapon upgrades

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

Joel places a rifle on a table in The Last of Us Part I.

To upgrade weapons in The Last of Us Part 1, you will need four things: a weapon (duh), parts, a workbench, and tools. Weapons will be gained through story progression, though you can technically miss one, while parts you need to pick up off the ground, in drawers and cupboards, and often in large amounts behind shiv doors. Tools are more rare but unlock new upgrades for weapons. The max tool level you can reach is five. Finally, workbenches are set locations where you can stop, take a breath, and spend your parts to improve your weapons in various categories.

Best weapon upgrades to get

Weapon holsters

This is one of the first upgrades you should get. Holsters increase either your pistol or long gun carrying capacity to allow you to quick-swap between two of each type on the fly. Even though you can switch to every weapon you have, unless they’re on your quick menu, this is a cumbersome process to do, especially while in the middle of a firefight or as a swarm of Clickers are rushing you down.

You will almost never feel completely comfortable with the amount of ammo you have for any one or maybe even two guns, so the more weapons you can easily swap between, the better.

El Diablo: armor piercing

El Diablo is no doubt the best overall sidearm in The Last of Us Part 1. This powerhouse is powerful enough to kill enemies in just one or two shots and even comes with a scope, making it essentially a handheld rifle. It can even down a bloater in two, sometimes three, shots. The downside is that you don’t come across it until somewhat late in the game, and its ammo is pretty rare.

To make the most of each shot you do have, upgrade the armor piercing stat to make sure any enemy you do decide is worth a bullet doesn’t get back up. You can upgrade this twice, both costing 75 scrap and requiring level four and five tools, respectively.

Hunting Rifle: scope and armor pierce

The hunting rifle is your no-frills, reliable long gun. Unless enemies are up in your face, this is a strong choice to pull out for most situations. This gun comes with very high base damage but with a low fire rate and reload speed to compensate. Without upgrades, it is about on par with El Diablo, except that headshots on humans are a guaranteed kill.

The scope and armor pierce are essential for this gun. The scope should be an obvious one. This gun is all about landing those critical headshots, and lining them up is much easier when you get a better view of the target. It will cost you 25 scrap for level one and 35 for the second, which is very cheap. While you may be tempted to go for the raw damage upgrade, and you certainly could, get the armor-piercing upgrade first to let you blast Clicker’s heads off with a single bullet and rip through armored humans. This is another cheap investment, with level one costing just 15 scrap and level two bumping it up to 40. If you’ve got everything unlocked, even a body shot will kill an armored enemy in one.

Pump Shotgun: recoil and range

What would a zombie game be without a good shotgun? The pump shotgun is your classic, reliable mid- to close-range problem-solver in The Last of Us Part 1. If you’re close enough, you don’t even need to upgrade this gun at all to blow away humans and Clickers alike in a single blast. That said, the farther you are, the faster the damage drops off, so pick your moments to draw and fire carefully.

Odds are, a shotgun is coming out when things have gone bad and enemies are right up in your face. When that happens, the last thing you need is for your shots to miss due to the massive kick of the gun. You can cut the recoil down by two levels, costing 15 and 40 scrap, respectively. Range is your next best option here. Obviously, you won’t be sniping with this gun, but adding some range will make the damage drop-off feel less like you have to actually press the nuzzle of the gun into an enemy for it to be effective. These two levels will cost 30 and 50 scrap.

Bow: range

The bow is the unsung hero of The Last of Us Part 1. This is the only ranged stealth weapon in the game and even has a chance to let you collect your arrows from your target. You don’t want to whip this out when things are kicking off and you’ve got bullets flying at you already, but if you use it wisely, the bow can let you take out entire encounters without ever alerting the group.

The bow has the fewest upgrades of the lot, and only range is really necessary if you’re using it right. Reload speed and draw speed won’t really be important if you’re in stealth when using it, after all. Range, though, can make sniping those isolated targets from a safe location much easier. You can buff this stat three times, and it won’t even break your scrap bank, costing 20, 30, and 50 scrap for each level.

Everything: clip size

Finally, if you’re using any of these guns or not, upgrade whatever you’re fond of with more clip size, if possible. This is massively important for two reasons. First, you obviously don’t want to run out of shots in a critical moment and need to reload. Second, there’s the added benefit of just being able to hold more ammo in stock. Again, you’ll rarely find yourself flush with ammo, but even so, you can’t really hold many rounds for any one gun in reserve. The bigger your clips, however, the more ammo you can keep in the gun, and thus more ammo on your character overall.

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Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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