The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered in the test: Experience your trauma now even more beautifully than before!

A mean game for a mean world: Powerful and grueling, the extensive remaster of The Last of Us Part 2 will break your heart on the new generation too.

When talking to the game director of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, Matthew Gallant, the question that comes to mind almost without thinking is the first question that comes to mind: Why a remaster now, just three years after the original game was released? Based on the answer from the Naughty Dog veteran, who was already involved in the first part, it almost seems foolish to me – after all, it wasn’t much different with the first part, it came even quicker.

Gallant describes it so clearly that it seems incredibly logical from a developer’s perspective: Naughty Dog worked with hardware for both games that was approaching the end of their respective generations. You know it inside and out, but it also imposes limitations on you that you have to work around. How could you not scratch your hooves when new hardware is right around the corner. It must feel like a liberation.

This is new in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered

And so The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is coming out in three days, with more expected technical upgrades, like the choice between native 4K and a performance mode with unlimited frame rate for people with VRR displays. The sampling rate of the animations has been increased as well as the detail visibility and the resolutions of the textures and shadows. This is the prettiest version of the controversial, uncomfortable and – yes – daring successor.

But there’s also a lot more to it that I really appreciate. Above the cutscenes there are now optional developer comments from people like Neil Druckmann and the assembled cast, three “Lost Levels” give insight behind the scenes, the thought process of developers, why certain content is cut and who always thought the guitar handling in TLOU2 had that Make it your own game, enjoys a surprisingly complex and fun freeplay mode that even uses pedals, while speedrun fans compete with others on the leaderboards in a dedicated mode.

The Last of Us as a roguelite – it works surprisingly well

For me, however, the most exciting addition was the new “No Return” mode. It’s a roguelite affair that was a great reminder of how much I like The Last of Us’ basic combat system. It’s a game of cat and mouse with a lot of flexibility and a smooth transition between stealth and open combat. You have a lot of space to come up with tactics, only to see them collapse often enough due to smart enemies or surprising reactions. In a scenario where death is final, the immense situational tension only increases, especially when there are enemies in play who can kill you with one bite.

In No Return you first choose a character – which is initially just Ellie – each of which has its own focus. For example, Abby is so good at melee combat that Melee kills restore her health. Dina, on the other hand, is a crafting expert and starts with recipes that other characters first have to unlock. A round in this mode is comparatively short: you play up to six scenarios, with the last one culminating in a boss fight. After each level you choose from one of two alternatives and then fight under different circumstances. In some of the randomly compiled scenarios, the enemies hunt you down right from the start, in others you are still hidden and can try to fight your way through to the end as a quiet player.

Feel like it? Buys The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered for 49.99 euros digitally in the PlayStation Store or physically for 49.99 euros on

With every challenge you complete, you unlock new characters, types of combat scenarios or modifications. When it comes to weapons and upgrades, you start from scratch every time, which you don’t find annoying given the accelerated progression between the individual missions. It’s more of an opportunity to shape your character anew in order to adapt flexibly to the situation. After two or three attempts, gambits are added, which randomly make particularly risky requests to you within a match. They will be richly rewarded, but they could also be your end. The gambits in particular emphasize how much The Last of Us has always encouraged you to make potentially devastating decisions in difficult situations. They underscore why this kind of gritty, offensive stealth and breathless hit-and-run approach is so attractive and exciting. In the fights in The Last of Us, the balance of power is always clear: you are the underdog, the hunted – and only if you approach it smartly and cunningly will you become the hunter. It doesn’t get much more believable in video games.

You don’t have to like Part 2 to love it

The rest of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is a known quantity. Few games were more controversial when they were released, and this was not entirely due to the bigotry of some of the audience towards certain aspects of central, new characters. There are people who, for understandable reasons, didn’t enjoy this story and what it did to the characters. Part 2 finds a lot of beauty in its systems or individual character moments. But its overarching story arc is an immensely joyless story about grief, trauma and the abysses into which they drag you down. It’s about how anger turns you into a monster and how cycles of violence work.

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered in pictures

The game doesn’t even have a lot of clever things to say about it – but it knew that it didn’t have to: when viewed soberly, almost everyone knows whether it’s the wrong path of revenge and retaliation. All you can really learn about it has to come from your gut. That’s why The Last of Us Part 2 does the worst injustice it is capable of to us players right from the start, thus overcoming our learned rationality. We are supposed to be blind with rage, to become willing accomplices to Ellie’s misdeeds. This is the only way we can feel this wrong path. It’s not always elegant, it’s often incredibly grueling, but it’s always deeply felt. So the injury of many fans is part of the concept of this story. In any case, I haven’t struggled with my actions and thought about violence in general as hard as I did after this game.

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered – Conclusion

So here we are: Three years after its release, perhaps a little early, but very competently and worthwhilely spruced up for the present, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered underlines once again why it is a special game. The believable characters, highly emotional events and gripping game systems have aged well and the central message remains the knee in the stomach that it was three years ago. Completely without a subsequent “heads up!” pat on the back. Given the current, saber-rattling world situation, a game about the mechanisms by which violence spreads uncontrollably is even more difficult to digest, but probably all the more important.

The Last of Us Part 2 is an ugly, mean game in the only right way: a blockbuster that has no desire to pander, that puts its message above the desire to please in the way video games usually do. You have to trust yourself first. Pretty big!

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered
  • The most emotionally merciless action adventure in a long time
  • Technically and design-wise still impressive
  • Wonderful acting performances
  • Native 4K and Performance mode with unlimited frame rate
  • Lots of nice extras
  • No return mode is exciting to play
  • You have to be tough
  • Occasional lengths in the plot towards the end

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