Transitioning to a new generation is never easy – and first-party powerhouse Naughty Dog has admitted that porting The Last of Us to the PlayStation 4 was Hell at first. Speaking as part of an interview with EDGE magazine, creative director Neil Druckmann explained that merely getting an image on the screen required plenty of blood, sweat, and tears from the studio’s award-winning engineering team – and that was just the first stage in The Last of Us Remastered's long and arduous production process.
“I wish that we had a button that was like, 'Turn on PS4 Mode', but no,” he joked. “We expected it to be Hell, and it was Hell. Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broke, and with it crashing every 30 seconds… that took a long time.” Druckmann added that the release was optimised for the PlayStation 3, but switching systems meant that it had to go back to the drawing board with many of the title’s fundamentals in order to get them up to scratch.
“I can’t describe how difficult a task that is,” he continued. “And once it’s running well, you’re running the [versions] side by side to make sure that you didn’t screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, or lighting being shifted, and all of a sudden it’s a drastically different look. That’s not ‘improved’ anymore – that’s different. We want to stay faithful while still being better.”
As a result, the studio’s resisted changing the core experience. “We have a really hard time playing the game because we constantly see things and think, 'Oh man, I could've done that better, I could've written that better, that animation pop over there, that transition...' but once you start going down that road, where do you stop?” he pondered, comparing the situation to George Lucas’ incessant tinkering of the original Star Wars trilogy. “At what point are you making the experience just different or worse?”
However, there will be many optimisations elsewhere, including the introduction of re-rendered cinematics that play at 60 frames-per-second in 1080p, as well as an alternate control scheme that employs the DualShock 4’s revised L2 and R2 triggers for gunplay rather than the more traditional L1 and R1 bumpers. The developer’s also considering creating some form of touchpad crafting feature, but details are scarce right now.
Lastly, Druckmann confirmed that while all of the game’s difficulties will be unlocked from the off – including the newly added Grounded option – you’ll need to complete the core campaign to access the Left Behind expansion. Fortunately, you won’t have to wait if you want to hear the cut-scene commentary from stars Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, as that will all be unlocked from the off. Well, that’s assuming that the developer can squeeze it all on the disc.