While the game is not without controversy, The Last of Us Part 2 earned near-universal acclaim from critics when it first released in 2020. With the original Last of Us 2 knocking it out of the park on PS4 and readily available to play on PS5 thanks to backward compatibility, some may wonder if there’s really a need for The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered. The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered isn’t a massive leap forward, but it does provide enough compelling content to make it well worth the $10 upgrade for those that already own the original.
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered features the same heartbreaking and utterly engrossing story that was featured in the original game. Anyone who has already had their fill of Ellie’s blood-soaked quest for revenge may not feel the need to play through the entire emotionally exhausting game again, but that’s not the main selling point of the remaster anyway. It’s nice to be able to experience The Last of Us Part 2‘s story with slightly better graphics and DualSense support, but the real draw of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is the new content that Naughty Dog added to sweeten the pot – like its Lost Levels, for instance.
The Last of Us 2 Remastered treats franchise fans to three never-before-seen “Lost Levels” that were cut from the original release. These stages are brief and unfinished, but provide an intriguing peak behind the curtain. Each one is preceded by an intro from game director Neil Druckmann, with optional developer commentary in the levels themselves.
The first stage is set near the beginning of The Last of Us 2 and is simply about Ellie walking to a party. It can be over in a matter of seconds if players make a beeline straight to Ellie’s destination, but those who take their time to check out the area will find carnival mini-games and a face painter to interact with. The second level is a little more exciting, as it sees Ellie being swept into the Seattle sewer system. It has some hazards Ellie has to overcome and one rather intense moment that we won’t spoil here.
The third level has Ellie tracking a boar to an abandoned store, with players challenged to take it down. It’s certainly the most action-packed of the three levels, and while all of them are interesting, especially for die-hard Last of Us fans, describing them as “levels” is a little disingenuous. Last of Us 2 Remastered‘s Lost Levels are all so short that those who only planned on playing these unfinished levels may want to hold off on spending the $10 to upgrade to The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, but it should be noted that these stages are only a small part of the overall package.
The Last of Us Part 2’s No Return mode is the best part of the Remastered package.
The real meat of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is its new No Return roguelike mode. Perfect for those wanting quick hits of The Last of Us 2‘s brutal combat without jumping back into the story mode, No Return gives players the chance to play as Ellie, Abby, Joel, Tommy, Dina, and a handful of other popular Last of Us characters. Players have to conquer a variety of stages themed after locations visited in The Last of Us 2‘s story mode, dealing with dangerous human enemies as well as Clickers and other types of infected. Death means starting over from the beginning, but the game showers players with unlockables, so runs never feel wasted.
From the get-go, players have goals to strive for and challenges to complete that unlock new playable characters. New gimmicks, encounter types, and other features are gradually introduced the more one plays No Return, adding extra depth to the experience and giving players more to do beyond simply trying to survive each stage. For example, Gambits challenge players to take out enemies in specific ways in exchange for upgrade materials, while Dead Drops ask that players drop off items in exchange for a reward back at the hideout.
Between rounds, players visit their hideout where they are free to upgrade their guns and purchase new gear. The hideout is also where players plan their next move, choosing between a variety of stages on a branching path leading to an ultimate showdown with a powerful boss. No Return’s boss encounters can be downright terrifying, amplified by the threat of permadeath making the stakes so high.
No Return is challenging, rewarding, and hard to put down. It would have easily justified the $10 it costs to upgrade to The Last of Us 2 Remastered on PS5 by itself, but there’s even more to the game. The graphics were already cutting-edge and honestly don’t seem to have gotten that significant of a boost from the PS5’s hardware, but The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is still a noticeably smoother experience compared to its PS4 counterpart. On top of that, the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers help with immersion, used cleverly to give melee attacks and simple actions like reloading a gun extra weight. There are also some other new game modes and features in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, from the Guitar Free Play mode to the story mode’s new Speedrun option to the nice selection of unlockable skins and filters. There’s a lot more to the game than some might have expected, making The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered a steal at $10.
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered is a more fully-featured and overall superior version of an already-incredible game. No Return makes it worth the $10 upgrade by itself, and the game is an absolute must-buy for anyone who has never played the PS4 original. The Lost Levels are a bit of a letdown and the graphics haven’t gotten as much of an upgrade as some may have hoped, but this is still the definitive way to experience Naughty Dog’s masterpiece.
The Last of Us Part 2: Remastered
- A better version of an already top-tier game
- No Return roguelike mode is challenging and fun
- Stuffed with extra content
- Only costs $10 to upgrade from PS4 version
- The Lost Levels are all very brief
The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered releases January 19, exclusively for PS5. Game Rant was provided with a PS5 code for this review.