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Bringing The Last of Us to PS4 wasn’t easy

by William Schwartz

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The Last of Us was one of the most critically acclaimed games this past decade, with a Metacritic score of 96, a user score of 9.1 and it resoundingly winning award after award at most game show events this past year. This has naturally led gamers to be excited over the prospects of Naughty Dog porting the game to the PlayStation 4, as now more people get to enjoy the game that otherwise might not have. As excited as he is to have more gamers experience his game, creative director Neil Druckmann also expressed a little fatigue, saying that porting the game was “hell” for Naughty Dog.

I wish we had a button that was “Turn on PS4” mode

Speaking to Edge Magazine, Druckmann stated, ““I wish we had a button that was like ‘Turn On PS4 Mode’, but no. We expected it to be hell, and it was hell. Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds… that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimised the game so much for the PS3’s SPUs specifically. It was optimised on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimise it again.”

“I can’t describe how difficult a task that is. And once it’s running well, you’re running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn’t screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it’s a drastically different look. That’s not ‘improved’ any more; that’s different. We want to stay faithful while being better.”

As Druckmann also explained, Naughty Dog had to essentially redo all their assets from scratch, as The Last of Us was never originally planned to be ported to the PS4. “It still means rebuilding the assets, throwing them in, seeing how the new streaming works, working with the new hard drive and the new OS that you have to write whole new systems for.”

Also according to Druckmann, the game will be running at 1080p and at 60 FPS with the in-game character models being equal to those in the cutscenes in the PS3 version.  “It’s interesting that now [instead of a technical bottleneck], the bottleneck is ‘Can we fit all this on the disc?’“

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