The Last of Us Part II
developer Naughty Dog just announced a ton of new features coming to the game in an update launching later this week, including an intense “Grounded” difficulty, permadeath, slow motion, screen filters and more. And thus, the masochists rejoiced and completionists wailed in agony.
It’s a truly insane amount of features, many of which have been highly requested by audiences. Naughty Dog has added two previously discovered trophies, one for beating the game on Grounded Mode and the other for beating it with permadeath enabled, but neither will be required in order to get the game’s Platinum trophy.
The Last of Us Part II is one of the most accessible mainstream videogames available, but that’s not to say it can’t kick your butt if you want it to. The game is moderately difficult on its normal setting and marginally harder on its “hard” setting (shocking, I know), but was missing the previous The Last of Us’ infamous Grounded mode, which takes the game to a whole new level of pain. Just like Part II, the original also added Grounded mode as a free update after launch.
As detailed in Naughty Dog’s blog (the dog with a blog), Grounded mode does far more than just make enemies deal more damage. Oh no, that would be too easy. It also makes ammo, upgrade and crafting materials much more scarce than they already were, such as deactivating the useful Listen mode and deactivating helpful indicators on the HUD.
But that’s not all! The same update is adding the dreaded permadeath mode, a first for any of Naughty Dog’s games. It’s as it sounds: If you die in the game, you die in real life permanently lose all save data and have to start at the beginning. If that sounds a little too hardcore for you, there’s also an option to add sparse checkpoints by chapter or act, heightening the tension of needing to replay significant sections without needing to torture yourself by needing to repeat the entirety of its lengthy campaign. Clearing permadeath with any mode or difficulty will net you the trophy, so you don’t have to completely torture yourself to get it if you don’t want to.
Fortunately, there’s no trophy for clearing Grounded mode on permadeath, because that might be enough to turn anyone certifiably insane.
For those of us who actually like practicing self-compassion, there’s stuff for us too. Naughty Dog is adding a cornucopia of gameplay, audio and visual modifiers to play the game with, which is great since it launched without nearly any aside from those for accessibility purposes.
Some of the coolest-sounding ones include the added ability to turn movement into slow motion, “bullet speed” (fast-motion?!), add infinite resources, become One-Punch or One-Shot Woman, and one of my favorite new additions, the ability to aim with motion sensing! Many people hate it, but I always turn it on when playing Breath of the Wild or Splatoon 2, and I’m glad Naughty Dog is taking a leaf out of Nintendo’s book here. It really helps with making those late, minute adjustments when taking your shot. Try it out!
Among other notable additions are the addition of counted seconds in playtime, helpful for speedrunners who want to measure their times as accurately as possible, and even more accessibility options for tracking collectibles and getting past certain tricky parts of the game.
Naughty Dog is also adding a bunch of new cosmetic filters to the game, including one that makes the game look and/ or sound like a messed up NES game, add or take away different colors or make Ellie, Abby and co. sound like they’ve ingested a bunch of balloons. It should make for plenty of funny clips and pretty screenshots.
Ready for the full list of additions? Here we go:
- Mirror World
- Mirror on Death
- Slow Motion
- Bullet Speed Mode
- Infinite Ammo
- Infinite Crafting
- Infinite Melee Durability
- Infinite Listen Mode Range
- One Shot
- Touch of Death
- 8-bit Audio
- 4-bit Audio
- Helium Audio
- Xenon Audio
- Saves now display playtime up to the second
- Film Grain Adjustment option
- Disable Listen Mode option
- Motion Sensor Function Aiming option
- Arc Throw HUD Display option
- Aiming Acceleration Scale option
- Aiming Ramp Power Scale option
- Accessibility improvements to Ground Zero encounter, collectible tracking, Enhanced Listen Mode for collectibles, and rope gameplay
Everything here launches this Thursday, which is kind of hard to wrap one’s mind around. It’s worth noting that, just like the launch of the base game, the launch of this mass of additional features likely comes with a real, human cost we should be aware of. Would the world have ended if it had come out a month or two later, ideally forcing less crunch on developers? I don’t have the answers, but we cannot turn a blind eye to workplace injustices just because we like the games that come from some of those places.