The Last of Us: Part II is far-and-away the most visually impressive release on the PlayStation 4 thus far, so it’s hard to imagine what Naughty Dog will be able to achieve with the new, uber-powerful PlayStation 5 hardware. Speaking as part of a podcast with Reggie Fils-Aime, vice president Neil Druckmann explained that he’s really looking forward to the next-gen system’s SSD removing barriers – despite his team already putting an extraordinary amount of work into minimising loading times.
“At the end of a generation, you always feel the constraints,” he said. “You always feel like you're pushing against a bunch of walls and finding the little cracks where you can take things a little further whether it's memory or CPU or hard drive speed. When you start a new generation, it's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have to build new tech for the new hardware, and that can be an uphill battle. But on the other hand, all of a sudden you feel this freedom of, 'Oh my god, we can breathe again!'”
He continued: “We do so much work, on our end, once you start the adventure, you never see a load screen. And there's so much work that happens behind the scenes of how we design the levels, how we chop them up, and it's all invisible to the player; you never see any of that work. But now, knowing that we're going to be able to load things more quickly, it just means the designers don't have to be as constrained by how they lay things out. How we think about things. When we load new characters. So, I'm excited to see the doors that opens for us.”
Exactly what Naughty Dog will make for the PS5 remains to be seen. We know that the studio’s got a standalone The Last of Us-themed multiplayer game in development, and that will presumably deploy on the Sony’s next-gen system at some point next year. Outside of that, many are expecting the studio to start work on a brand new intellectual property, although there’s clearly still life left in its post-apocalyptic property after it shattered PlayStation sales records at launch.