The Last of Us Part 1 was the latest in a long history of Naughty Dog and PlayStation leaks, having been unofficially announced a while before it was legitimately revealed at Summer Game Fest last month. This certainly dampened the official announcement’s luster, but not the excitement of what had been shown for the game, which Naughty Dog has billed as a remake. In it, Naughty Dog alleges that the original The Last of Us experience is rebuilt from the ground up, with modernized gameplay, enhanced graphical fidelity, and other improvements on PS5.
The Last of Us Part 1’s cinematic announcement trailer offered these promises alongside the words of Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, who explained that the remake’s fidelity has improved thanks to rebuilt facial animations that are more in tune with Naughty Dog’s original vision. For many fans, the excitement of returning to The Last of Us is enough of a sell. However, some fans have considered The Last of Us’ price to be unreasonable based upon their idea of what a remake should constitute, and whether The Last of Us Part 1 does enough to earn its classification as a remake.
Fans Debate Whether The Last of Us Part 1 is a ‘Cash Grab’
The idea of The Last of Us Part 1 being labeled a “cash grab” originated from fans who expressed how skeptical they are about how much the game is actually being improved, and whether those changes are enough merit to make it worthy of its price tag. Before any gameplay had leaked—and a lot unfortunately had leaked following the initial discourse—fans decided that The Last of Us Part 1’s visuals were hardly reason enough to rationalize the game’s cost.
This is obviously entirely subjective from fan-to-fan, and a lot of individuals will likely have their own personal reasons why they are not content with paying over a certain amount for something. The Last of Us’ visuals are arguably still agreeable and may not have needed a facelift, and perhaps this is where most fans’ discontent comes from, as they are uncertain The Last of Us needs a remake in the first place.
The Last of Us Part 1 being a “cash grab,” then, seemingly stems from the belief that remaking The Last of Us is superfluous. It has been suggested that The Last of Us making the leap to its third PlayStation generation is an opportunity for Naughty Dog to exploit the game for all it is worth, while counterarguments claim that it is a fantastic way for new audiences to be exposed to it in a definitive way.
Along the way, Naughty Dog offered only obscure explanations for what will change and what will not in The Last of Us Part 1. Leaks that followed finally showed fans what gameplay looks like in The Last of Us Part 1, and many fans were disappointed to see no discernible differences or improvements.
The Lack of Discernible Gameplay Improvements in The Last of Us Part 1 Concerns Fans
These leaks portrayed brief combat sequences where Joel has animations that are identical to those from the original game, and a screenshot leaked also depicted the controller button layout, where there was no sign of a prone crawl or dodge mechanic. This immediately indicated to fans that The Last of Us Part 1 would not be adopting combat from The Last of Us 2, as fans may have previously assumed.
Rather, Druckmann had hinted at improved combat and AI during Summer Game Fest, and when host Geoff Keighley mentioned being excited to see The Last of Us 2’s gameplay in The Last of Us Part 1, Druckmann neither confirmed nor denied whether that would be apparent. He instead alluded to new “animation systems and AI systems,” but did not state explicitly whether fans should expect the combat and gameplay from The Last of Us 2 to be implemented into The Last of Us Part 1.
Nonetheless, this has stirred controversy once more with fans who fail to see how this game is worth its price, particularly after having seen that gameplay is more akin to the original than they had hoped. Some fans argue that The Last of Us Part 1 is more aptly a remaster than a remake as a result of all that has been shared at this point, but whether it aligns more closely with a remaster or a remake should not take away from how much work the developers have put into it.
Fans Should Temper Expectations Now, But Still Be Excited for What The Last of Us Part 1 Does Offer
It may have helped for Naughty Dog to expressly declare how similar its gameplay would be to the original in order to manage expectations accordingly, but to its defense, it was also never explicitly stated that gameplay would evolve in the way fans were hoping. Instead, fans are officially receiving enhanced accessibility features in The Last of Us Part 1 that will undoubtedly be a boon for many players, as well as new AI systems and other improvements.
Some of these improvements are likely to come from The Last of Us 2 as well, even if the dodge and prone mechanics are not a part of it. Perhaps the decision to leave these mechanics out of The Last of Us Part 1’s gameplay came from wanting to preserve how the original game controls and plays, but that has not been stated one way or the other. In what seems like either a response to leaks or a premeditated and planned decision, Naughty Dog recently released a Features and Gameplay Trailer that officially set expectations for what players can look forward to.
It is difficult to be fully sure how much will have been improved until fans play it and see for themselves throughout the entire experience, such as the workbench changes that have been made that are evidently taken from The Last of Us 2. Still, the controversy is sure to continue well into its release window, but it is ultimately up to fans whether they believe it is worth its price point or not.
The Last of Us Part 1 releases September 2 for PS5.