What is the best difficulty to select in The Last of Us 1? If you're playing Naughty Dog's survival horror for the first time, or perhaps returning to it after a long break, you may be wondering which of the difficulty options is best for your playthrough. As part of our The Last of Us 1 guide, we're going to explain the best difficulty to select.

The Last of Us 1: Best Difficulty to Select

The Last of Us 1: Best Difficulty to Select Guide 1
Image: Push Square

The best difficulty to select in The Last of Us 1 will first depend on which version of the game you're playing. This is because The Last of Us: Part I (PS5, PC) has a different selection of difficulty options to The Last of Us Remastered (PS4) and The Last of Us (PS3).

The Last of Us: Part I's difficulty options are as follows:

  • Very Light: Explore and experience the story with a lighter combat challenge. Camera and aim assistance settings are enabled by default.
  • Light: Less challenging than Moderate. Resources are more common and enemies are less dangerous.
  • Moderate: Provides a balanced experience. Resources are limited.
  • Hard: For those looking for a greater challenge. Resources are very limited and enemies are more dangerous.
  • Survivor: An intense, demanding challenge. Resources are extremely scarce and enemies are deadly. Listen Mode is turned off by default in this difficulty.
  • Grounded: The most challenging and realistic experience. Listen Mode, HUD, and other gameplay elements are altered in this game mode.

There's also a Custom option in The Last of Us: Part I which allows you to tinker with specific difficulty attributes such as Player, Enemies, Allies, Stealth, Resources. This allows you to tailor the challenge to your own personal tastes, allowing you to make enemy AI more passive or resources more common. You can unlock all Trophies in any difficulty in The Last of Us: Part I so find the setting you prefer.

Personally, we think Hard offers a good overall experience, augmenting plenty of pulsating intensity to combat encounters and pairing it with restricted resources to force you to think on the fly. If you're a master of stealth gameplay, however, you may want to push up to Survivor for an even tougher experience.

Grounded is the hardest difficulty, but we wouldn't recommend it unless you really want to challenge yourself or are already familiar with the game.

The options are similar in The Last of Us Remastered and The Last of Us, although there's a lot less flexibility than in The Last of Us: Part I and Trophies are affected by what you select. The difficulty settings are as follows:

  • Easy
  • Normal
  • Hard
  • Survivor
  • Grounded (Needs to be downloaded as DLC on PS3)

Again, we'd recommend Hard as the optimal difficulty to select, as it provides a challenging but fair experience that's befitting of the series' harsh setting. Obviously, feel free to dial it down if you want to focus on the story without obstruction, and we'd recommend saving Grounded for future playthroughs if you're new to the title.

What do you think is the best difficulty to select in The Last of Us 1? Check out our The Last of Us 1 guide for much more on the game, and be sure to let us know in the comments section below.