Remake gameplay, graphics and AI

The existence of The Last of Us Part 1, the restored version for PS5 and PC of the original journey of Ellie and Joel, was already known before it was made official. Between detailed reports and even the reveal trailer that emerged online in advance of the game’s appearance at the Summer Game Fest (here our previous preview on The Last of Us Part 1), the communicative season of the Naughty Dog project has not opened in the best way and, to be honest, in the last period the situation has worsened, thanks to the leaks of gameplay clips and entire cutscenes of the adventure.

Somewhat surprisingly, Sony released a deep immersion dedicated to the remake, consisting of both interviews with the development team and several in-game scenes, so as to provide important explanations on the nature of the production. From the interventions on enemy AIpassing through the features of DualSense, up to the restoration of the visual presentation, there are many innovations that have emerged regarding the makeover, novelties on which we necessarily had to dwell.

Not different but better

In addition to giving space to the words of Matthew Gallant, the Game Director of The Last of Us Part 1, this focus on the production did not fail to include the interventions of the good Neil Druckmanthe co-president of Naughty Dog to whom we actually owe the birth of Ellie and Joel. The talented creative revealed that at the end of the development of Part 2, when the team was working on the flashbacks of the first game, the insiders began to fantasize about the idea of ​​rebuilding it. with new technological solutionsso as to make it look as good as the sequel, if not more.

In a sense, it is a process of bringing the product closer to the original creative vision, clearly permitted by hardware far more capable than that of PlayStation 3 (the console that first allowed us to play The Last of Us). In this sense, therefore, we need to make a clarification that seems right, starting from Druckmann’s words: on the pipeline, art direction and technology front, Naughty Dog has done everything to make the experience more refined and, to quote him, “not different but extremely better“.

In short, let’s talk about the definitive way to play The Last of Us according to its authors. Basically, outside the possible insertion of specific polygonal models (someone said Jerry Anderson?), it would be good not to expect the addition of new explorable areas or some kind of expansion on the narrative front. Clearly, in the field of playful recipes and – above all – of the audiovisual sector, things are differentas we are about to see.

Struggle for life, in restored form

Regarding the gameplay of the remake we have several more certainties (and still some doubts). For starters, Naughty Dog has implemented it in the game the advanced AI of The Last of Us Part 2making enemies’ reactions to Ellie and Joel’s behaviors more sophisticated. In essence, the opponents will perceive the player’s actions in a more realistic way e they will set the offensive strategy accordingly. The same kind of attention has been given to the smuggler’s companions, from Ellie to Henry and Sam.

Just like in Part 2, the supporting actors will avoid staying in the field of vision of the cutthroats who want to kill them and, in addition, they will study their movements and approach to make sure you stay hidden. In this way the stealth sections will be more credible and aligned with the general feeling of realism that the product wants to offer.

In addition we also mention the implementation of the movement correspondencethat technology used in the second chapter that deals with analyzing all the animations available depending on the path chosen by the characters to select the most suitable and merge them together. Basically, the movements of the protagonists will be fluid and credible, in any type of situation. Before continuing, we do not know if the enemies they will communicate with each other as in The Last of Us Part 2 or if they will react emotionally to the violent departure of their companions: only with careful testing will it be possible to understand which is the real scope of Naughty Dog’s interventionsa discourse that we also extend to the gore element and to the reactions of the unfortunate to the bullets that reach them (one of the flagships of Ellie’s voyage of revenge). We await further clarifications also on the possible presence of gameplay elements characteristic of the second chapter, just think to Ellie’s dodge or the possibility of crawling on the ground. Let’s move on to the new gameplay modifiers, from the slow motion clashes, through the new graphic filters and the advanced photo mode, up to the modes permanent death and speedrunwhose arrival could please and not a little to the content creators.

In the style of Uncharted, the insiders have also introduced skins for weapons and alternative costumes for the protagonists, a choice that is certainly appreciable for those who want to enjoy the trip several times but perhaps also a bit far from the tones of the production. Flying over the menu for viewing skits and models of enemies and protagonists, which will allow us to appreciate in every detail the incredible polygonal size, it is impossible not to consider the new accessibility options. In fact, each of them is a barrier removed for someone, as Gallant has well said, starting with an audio description of the entire game designed to tell users every detail of the cutscenes.

From this point of view, the work of the studio and other PlayStation companies has proved to be commendable, several times, and testifies to the efforts made by the entire industry to allow as many players as possible to experience exciting stories. Thanks to the support for the features of DualSense, in addition, shoot an arrow or fire a weapon – each with its degree of resistance perceptible to the touch of the trigger – will be more engaging than ever. In terms of haptic feedback, it will be possible to perceive specific vibrations on the hands depending on the selected instrument of death, such as the use of the shotgun pump. These feedbacks will work in tandem with the controller speakerwhich will play ad hoc audio files according to the situation to sharpen the immersion of the experience. The tactile features have been extended to every main component of the game, from jumps to landings, up to hand-to-hand clashes and even during the modification and upgrading of weapons at the workbench: we are really curious to be able to appreciate its effectiveness.

A sumptuous audiovisual sector

If there is one aspect of production capable of eliminating, or almost eliminating, the onset of doubts, it is certainly the audiovisual presentation. On this front, the differences with the original game, including the remastered version released on PS4, seem abysmal, without too many words. The team did not call the interpreters of the adventure to remake the motion capturing but – using the original footage – worked hard to give back to the virtual alter egos all the minutiae of the actors’ performances, intervening in a clear way on their facial expressiveness.

Thanks to what is probably a slightly more advanced version of the engine used to create The Last of Us Part 2, the skin shading of the protagonists seems to have very few terms of comparison and we are sure that, in addition to the incredible visual rendering of the eyes, it will render the filmed sequences, as well as the dialogues in game, even more realistic and touching. The hopes of Riley, the concern of Tommy or the unforgettable Tess and the ill-concealed madness of David: the few shots dedicated to them in the deep dive were enough to reassure us about the goodness of the work of the Gallant team in this area. Consequently, unlike what happened in the original, the transition from movies (now in real time) to gameplay will take place without what was originally it was a pretty obvious visual gap between the two components of the experience.

The same care has been taken in recreating another constitutive element of the identity of The Last of Us: the settings. From the walls of the buildings in the Boston Quarantine Zone, to the streets of Pittsburgh and the views of Jackson, every single theater of the events narrated has been reconstructed so that the individual elements, such as vegetation, bonding, pools of water, and the impact scenic overall, could leave you breathless, thanks also to global lighting up to the highest modern standards.

Thanks to the power of PS5, Naughty Dog it has sharpened the destructibility of the environmentswith Gallant who mentioned the military vehicle with a turret in Pittsburgh: looking at the scene it is possible to see the machine gun shots that “butcher” the concrete columns in a realistic way, like windows and objects, which needless to say fly everywhere. Throwing a bomb near the shop windows will cause it to break, while being reached by the dense blanket of spores of the Bloaters, produced by the inevitable fungal projectiles, will significantly reduce our view. In other words, from particle effects to fire and water rendering, The Last of Us Part 1 promises to be a joy for the eyes … and the ears. Through the 3D Audio support, hunting down the fearsome Stalkers in the dark and spore-filled basements will be a moment of high tension, given the possibility of being able to perceive the movements of these Cordyceps killers through the noises they will emit. Among the big news and the many small details, the package packaged by Naughty Dog – which also offers a native 4K mode at 30 fps and one in dynamic 4K at 60 fps – is certainly rich but without trying the game pad in hand it is impossible to pronounce. on the actual impact of the changes made to the gameplay and, in general, on the differences in terms of feeling and quality of life compared to the original product. Ultimately, at the moment we do not know if it is an essential purchase even for longtime fans and we wait to return to take on the role of the smuggler torn by mourning to make sure.