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The Differences Between Original And PS5 Version Of The Last Of Us Explained

Widely regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made, Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" was released for the PlayStation 3 in 2013 and immediately created a legion of hardcore fans. Gamers were immediately drawn to the intimate and tense story following Joel, a smuggler who lost his daughter when a global virus began spreading, and Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who is seemingly immune to the disease. Though initially callous towards Ellie, Joel eventually develops a paternal-like care towards her as they venture across the country with the purpose of possibly finding a cure to the virus.

The game was acclaimed by gamers and critics alike, spawning both a remaster and a controversial sequel, "The Last of Us Part 2." With an HBO series based on the games currently in production, it seems like Naughty Dog is attempting to recreate the original game to appeal to a new generation of gamers. Enter the remake, "The Last Of Us Part 1," which is due out in September 2022. But how will this remake differ from its 9-year-old predecessor?

Ellie and Joel look pretty different

One of the first changes fans will notice in the announcement trailer for "The Last of Us Part 1" are the new character models. This may be most noticeable with Ellie, whose eyes look much different from the original, although Joel is also perhaps more grizzled than you may remember. Being a remake from the ground up, Naughty Dog was able to develop a system in which the team was able to replace the models in the original version and insert more realistic ones in their place. Even more impressive, Naughty Dog was able to insert these new models into "The Last of Us Part 1" without having to recapture the actor's performances all over again. 

"The great thing about these faces is that they're closer to the original performance," game director Neil Druckmann said at the Summer Game Fest. "All the animators went and studied those videos [of the performances] and got it closer to what [the actors] did on set then what we could have achieved before."

The character models — especially Ellie and Joel's — in "The Last of Us Part 1" remake aren't too dissimilar to the ones seen in "The Last of Us Part 2." As a matter of fact, they look nearly identical to the newer designs. If nothing else, this kind of visual continuity could prove to be appreciated by newer players who have yet to dive into either title in the series.

Improved visuals

The PlayStation 5 is an extremely powerful console, much more powerful than the PlayStation 3 that originally hosted "The Last of Us." Since its launch, the new console has been proven to make many older PlayStation titles look even better. It is only natural that Naughty Dog wishes to take full advantage of this new technology to make "The Last of Us Part 1" as visually appealing as possible. The remake offers an opportunity improve upon the game's already impressive visuals.

During the Summer Game Fest interview, Druckmann mentioned that the "Last of Us" remake will run at 60 frames per second and will be given a full overhaul when it comes to overall fidelity. This was done not only to accommodate players on the PlayStation 5, but also players on the PC who will also get a chance to experience a port of the remake.

The original "Last of Us" was a visually stunning game. The same can be said for "The Last of Us Part 2," which squeezed every ounce of performance out of the original PlayStation 4 and  the PS4 Pro. If Naughty Dog can up the ante and hit this one out of the park, then "The Last of Us Part 1" might be one of the best looking games you'll ever see.

Much of the gameplay has been completely reworked

The combat in the original "Last of Us" title was fantastic for its time. Though it lacked some features that would've been welcome — such as the ability to go prone when hiding from enemies — it stood out as a fluid experience that was masterfully animated and motion captured. It also still holds up relatively well today. However, Naughty Dog has apparently added tons of improvements to "The Last of Us Part 1" to ensure that the game can compete with more contemporary games, such as its own sequel. According to Neil Druckmann, the development team has worked to improve things like the enemy AI and the combat systems seen in the original.

"The Last of Us Part 1" is also likely to contain some of the new innovations from the sequel, like its overhauled crafting system. The promise of revamped AI also seems to imply that enemies will be smarter and think as a group, much like in "Part 2." Neil Druckmann also promises that the new version of the game will feature some all-new accessibility options. Druckmann has said that the difference between the original "Last of Us" and the remake will be "night and day," and that the latter will be the definitive way to experience it.

As the game gets closer to release, Naughty Dog will likely announce more differences between the remake and the original. For now, though, it's looking like this is definitely more than a fresh coat of paint on an old favorite.