It feels like the time between original releases and remasters grows thinner by the day. Still, not all remasters are created equal, and new content, upgrade paths, and smaller price tags can make buying the same game again feel more acceptable. Thankfully, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is on the better end of the remaster spectrum with substantial new additions and just enough polish to make the jump to next-gen feel worthwhile.
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered coats the already beautiful PS4 game with some next-gen polish, even if it didn’t really need it. The Last of Us Part 2 looked great on last-gen hardware and already ran at 60 FPS on PlayStation 5 thanks to a patch that enhanced its backward compatibility, so a full remaster for the PS5 might seem unnecessary on the surface. However, there are enough next-gen specific features that make the (thankfully not $70) price tag feel warranted.
The main graphical additions are the new Fidelity and Performance modes. The former provides a full native 4K presentation at 30 FPS, which will help you spot the minor visual improvements added to the remastered version like increased texture resolution and better level of detail distances. The latter ups the framerate to 60 FPS at the cost of resolution, outputting at 1440p upscaled to 4K. As is the case with most performance modes on PlayStation 5, the upscaled resolution still looks exceptional compared to the native 4K picture offered by the 30 FPS mode.
The biggest game changer here is support for Variable Refresh Rate, which lets you uncap the framerate in either mode as long as your TV or monitor supports VRR. With VRR, the Fidelity mode’s framerate will hang in the high 40s and low 50s, while the Performance mode sees framerates that average around 90-100 FPS, especially in smaller combat encounters. I’ve never heard my PS5’s fans ramp up before, but running The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered at 100+ FPS in the new No Return roguelike mode made it audibly clear that this remaster was pushing the system hard.
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered also comes with some little novelties that are fun to mess around with for a while, like a free play mode for the guitar that even lets you swap to different instruments and a speedrun mode that diehard fans will surely appreciate. Of course, DualSense functionality is also a minor selling point for this next-gen upgrade. The adaptive triggers make the game’s weapons feel more impactful than ever, and haptic feedback adds more than you’d think to the immersion.
The biggest addition included in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is No Return, a roguelike survival mode that pits you against a moshpit of human and infected enemies as you work through a string of encounters with randomized rewards. You’ll start with just a pistol (or special weaponry depending on your chosen character) and you’re able to scavenge supplies during encounters and purchase new weapons and items in between rounds.
No Return is a perfect match for The Last of Us Part 2’s gameplay. The game forces you to get creative with your resources to survive, but the main campaign can feel quite restrictive. It’s hard to sacrifice a Molotov or use up your shotgun shells knowing you could scrape by with melee takedowns, even if those are the most fun options. In No Return, you don’t have to worry about saving for encounters that are hours down the line since a run typically only lasts 20-30 minutes.
It also helps that The Last of Us Part 2 just has stellar encounter design in general, so No Return reusing locations from the main campaign doesn’t feel like cutting corners. Plus, the modifiers for each stage and the different playstyles for each character help keep things fresh. Modifiers range from basic to bananas, and they can really force you to change up your strategies. There’s nothing scarier than an infected stage where they always know your location so you have Clickers constantly homing in on you, but those Clickers are also invisible. There’s a surprising amount of effort put into No Return, and it’s worth the price of admission alone.
Being able to play as characters other than Ellie and Abby is a blast, too. While not every character is exciting, most players will love playing as Tommy, Joel, and Lev. Each of their playstyles lets you narrow down your approach, too, letting you explore combat systems that you might not have been able to in the main campaign. Tommy starts with a unique sniper rifle, for example, letting you mirror his rampage through Seattle as you pop headshots and relocate to stay hidden. Joel’s playstyle is Unstoppable, giving him huge melee buffs and his signature revolver as a starting weapon.
Outside of No Return, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered also features a trio of Lost Levels that were cut from the game during development. Getting to peek behind the curtain of game development, even with highly curated slices like these, is a treat that most games wouldn’t dare offer. It’s one thing to show cut content in behind-the-scenes documentaries, but having them in a playable state is something that more games should do. These, plus the cutscene commentary from Neil Druckmann, Haley Gross, and some of the game’s main cast members, are a huge treat for fans of the series.
Overall, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered adds some additional visual flair to a game that didn’t really need any, but its new gameplay additions make it well worth the upgrade. The Lost Levels are a fun novelty, but No Return is the true star of the show. It’s a significantly more substantial roguelike than the marketing would have you believe, and it’s worth the asking price on its own. For a budget price (and just a small upgrade fee for PS4 owners), The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is a great excuse to revisit Ellie and Abby’s story once again.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.