The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review – A Remaster Worthy of a Classic

The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review

Since its release in 2020, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II has inspired many passionate epithets from gamers. “Violent.” “Astonishing.” “Brilliant.” Even “a betrayal.” But no one, whether a fan or a hater, would ever call it irrelevant.

I think we can all agree that it’s among the most iconic game titles ever made. But still, it seems a tough sell to bring it back for a Remaster so soon. I mean, this is a game that’s less than four years old. Can upgraded current-gen visuals and new modes sweeten the pot enough for gamers to come back for another journey through Seattle? Naughty Dog is certainly hoping so.

Visual Revamp

The visuals in this new Remaster do indeed see a big upgrade if you’ve got the right TV for it. 1440p resolution upscaled to 4K brings a new pop to environments and characters. The unlocked frame rate is a nice addition too. But part of the problem with evaluating the visuals in this latest remaster of The Last of Us Part II is the fact that they were already so good on the PS4. It’s a title that pushed Sony’s previous console to new heights in its level of detail and realism. I re-played the original just 6 months ago and honestly, it still looked and felt like a current-gen title. From what I’ve seen the Remaster is undoubtedly a next-gen visual upgrade, but if you played it on the PS4, it won’t necessarily feel like it.

But The Last of Us Part II Remastered is about more than just the revamped graphics. There’s also a completely new roguelike mode, No Return. And it’s excellent. It has four styles. Assault has you fighting off waves of enemies alone, while Holdout gives you an AI companion to help you. Capture tasks you with getting supplies from a safe. And Hunted is a stealthier experience, where you defend against enemies searching for you. As a returning veteran, this No Return mode was the real draw for me. You have a selection of up to 10 characters, beginning with Ellie and Abby. The rest, including Joel, Dina, Tommy, and your other favorites unlock as you complete run-throughs.

Hunt or Be Hunted

In particular, I found Hunted to be really addictive. I just lived for the stealth combat in my play-through of the original game. Creeping slowly, holding R2 to listen for enemies, and sneaking up on them for a silent kill. It’s a rush that never got old. And now with The Last of Us Part II Remastered, I can indulge as much as I want. As for Assault, well, I found getting rushed by gangs of enemies from all angles way too stressful. But that’s on me. I think there are a lot of adrenaline addicts out there who will be right at home in this mode.


No matter which type you choose, run-throughs in No Return offer lots of new content to make it worth checking out. And there’s a good amount of variety and replayability too. It’s a roguelike mode, so levels are randomly generated. They feel oddly familiar, taking the environments of the story mode as their basis. But they’re also randomly, confusingly different. You’ll never feel too safe, even after many run-throughs. Plus, each character brings different attributes to the fight — I personally preferred Abby’s close combat skills. You can also unlock the ability to play other characters, even ones — like Tommy — that you couldn’t play in the original game. Playing as different characters, coupled with map variety makes No Return a mode that’s so deep, it feels like a full new game on its own.

Make it far enough in No Return and you face the Final Boss. Even on lower difficulty, these are tough, intense fights. And yes, that includes the Rat King. Remember the Rat King? I honestly don’t know how I beat that SOB the first couple of times. But facing him (it? them?) again in a new arena was really cool. And also revolting, and awful. And I got utterly destroyed. But even if you lose, you earn points to unlock more features. So yes, when you die you lose all your progress. And you die a lot because it’s frickin’ hard and sometimes quite stressful. But it’s still a fun and rewarding gameplay loop. The bottom line is, that returning veterans like me who liked The Last of Us Part II’s combat will really enjoy No Return.

Lots of Extras

There are a bunch of other additions in The Last of Us Part II Remastered as well. As you unlock trophies in the main game or find collectibles, you get points. These points can be cashed in for things like new skins, visual filters, and even cheat commands. You can unlock infinite bullets, one-shot kills, and unlimited crafting materials. Or you can do weird things like flip the view or make it photo-negative. There’s a ton of new ways to customize the main game and tinker with the experience. Going back and playing the story in what is basically God Mode was fun.

An Extra that many might overlook (but shouldn’t) is access to the Developer Commentaries. Enable it, and the cutscenes in Story Mode will include behind-the-scenes details on their creation. I will admit that I was initially dismissive of this feature. But it was actually fascinating to hear the developers reminisce about the actors, the changes they made, and even the motion capture process. For example, it turns out that some cut scenes were changed after the actors improvised their lines and actions. If you’re in any way interested in the gaming industry, the process of game creation, or just storytelling, this is a feature in The Last of Us Part II Remastered you shouldn’t sleep on.


But wait, there’s more! In addition to all these extras, you can play some Lost Levels (in Beta form), and play the guitar, banjo, or other instruments in free-play mode. And it’s pretty cool too! Honestly, The Last of Us Part II Remastered has a lot. But at the end of the day, does it have enough? Should you pick it up? As someone who played The Last of Us Part II on the PS4 (several times), I don’t have much interest in replaying the story, again. Don’t get me wrong. It was one of the most impactful, memorable experiences of my gaming life. But it was, emotionally, too much to do another time.

Worth the Upgrade

The ability to use cheat commands, change out skins, and add visual filters, all had me curious to try them out in the story. And I tried them for a while. But it didn’t last. Sorry, but even with new developer commentaries, this just isn’t a story I’m ready to fully relive again from start to finish (and don’t get me started on the finish). But what did grab me was No Return. For a $10 upgrade, I get a fun, almost endlessly-repayable roguelike mode. I can test my skills in one of my favorite parts of The Last of Us Part II — the combat. This alone makes The Last of Us Part II Remastered worth the upgrade. And if you get anything out of the other modes, all the better.

And what about those who have never played through the story? Should you buy The Last of Us Part II Remastered? Hell yeah. It’s a PS5 must-buy. There is no question. Looking the best it’s ever looked, beefed up with smoother frame rates, and shorter load times, this is the best version yet of a game that still ranks among the most important ever made, if not among the best. And at $49 it’s a good deal.

The Bottom Line

It does feel a bit too soon for The Last of Us Part II Remaster. And this just isn’t the kind of game whose story I want to experience again. Not yet anyway. But Naughty Dog clearly knows this and has put together a package with enough new modes and features to make the upgrade a winning proposition. And for those looking to play The Last of Us Part II for the first time on PS5, this is a great time to do it. You may love it, you may hate it, but trust me, you’ll never forget it.

** A PS5 game code was provided by the publisher **

The Good

  • Upgraded resolution and visuals
  • No Return is an excellent new mode
  • Lots of other extras

The Bad

  • Feels too soon for a Remaster
  • Doesn’t feel like a generational visual leap
  • Some might not want to replay the story