‘The Last of Us Part I’ director explains why the game stays so true to the original

In addition to whether The Last of Us Part I worth $70, the question surrounding this remake is how much will the original 2013 game change. Would developer Naughty Dog consider this a complete to-do, changing the level design, gameplay mechanics, and player upgrades? That has become clear over the past few weeks, when Sony released several preview videos ahead of today’s release, that’s not going to happen. Instead, the goal is delivers massively updated images and a host of quality-of-life improvements for a game that would otherwise stay true to its roots.

“This is a unique project for Naughty Dog. This is the first time we’ve completely remade it,” creative director Shaun Escayg said in an interview. “We know that we want to be as true to the original game as possible, [to] added what we thought would enhance and enhance the experience but did not fundamentally change the experience. That mindset runs through the game, from everything you can see in the environment to the battles against both humans and Infected.

Game director Matthew Gallant added: “We don’t feel like these combat encounters have been dated and really don’t have anything we’re looking at to say ‘we want to do one. work here’. “We love the fight in Our last. We think those spaces are really iconic: They’re really powerful, they have a lot of different options for moving and fighting. What is commonly dated is probably the technology that underlies some of these wars. “

Gallant, who was a combat designer on the original Our last, says the game can only handle eight AI “brains” at any given time, although battles often feature more enemies than that. This means they have to reactivate and deactivate those brains based on the character’s location and what they’re doing. Similarly, he describes a lot of the battles in the original game as “hand scenarios”. “You move here, they react by doing this; it was just the level of technology we had at the time and it was something that made sense, and we got pretty good results,” he said. “Those were really great games, and they organized very well. But with our latest engine technology, we can be a lot more flexible.”

The new AI is, unsurprisingly, a lot more advanced. “We have the option to use information in [level] layout to tell enemies “this is a solid position for defense, this is a good flanking route, this is a good line of sight for other enemies, and has a split encounter management layer” assign NPCs to roles in the war,” Gallant said. “Who will be the best winger right now, who will be the best defender of this point, who will push this player right now?” In my experience so far the end result is a much less predictable game than the original – if you get caught by stealth, enemies will advance quickly and mercilessly, especially in more difficult levels. “You can play a battle ten different ways and get ten different outcomes,” he added.

Gallery: ‘The Last of Us Part I’ review screenshot | 21 photos

Another big question surrounding combat is why Naughty Dog doesn’t add some new mechanics to it built in The Last of Us Part II from 2020. In that game, the player controls Ellie and Abby, both of whom can lie on the ground to hide in the grass or get under the car to find cover. They can also dodge, a feature that adds a whole new dimension to combat, giving you the ability to withstand when an Instigator or Striker knocks you down for an instant kill.

According to Gallant, the ripple effect of adding dodge to the base game would be too significant. “Dodge is not something that lives in a vacuum,” he said. “You have to add narrative to enemy attacks, and now enemies will attack differently. You may also need to change the meeting space; you need to provide a little more space to have that dodge play. In addition, adding dodge will lessen the stress Naughty Dog tries to put in the game’s battles.

“If you dodge, you mean you got out. Then all of a sudden it’s a very claustrophobic and tense and nerve-wracking fight – this is weighing on you and you have to knock it down to kill it – you get a very different feeling if you dodge ,” Gallant said.

But most importantly, according to Gallant, playing like Joel basically needs to feel different from playing as Ellie, and simply scrolling through her moves reduces those differences. “The way Joel acts tells you a lot about his character,” he said. “He’s a bruiser, he’s a brawler, he’s an old man. The way he fights is said to feel very different from the way Ellie fights in The Last of Us Part II. She’s a younger woman, she’s agile, she has a whole set of skills that are very different. “Fans can continue to argue about whether Naughty Dog should go further with the changes it’s made to the gameplay, but it’s also reasonable that they want to keep the characters in the game. Part I different from those in Part II.

Screenshot of The Last of Us Part I

While it may take some time for players to realize the extent of the AI ​​updates, the graphical improvements are immediately apparent. For me, the most striking change is the facial animation, but the extent to which Naughty Dog goes in and considers every aspect of a scene to improve it is equally impressive. For example, as Joel and Ellie travel through the suburbs of Pittsburgh with their new companions Henry and teenage brother Sam, Ellie and Sam rest on a couch in a dilapidated house. From looking back at old screenshots, I see that the couch has been completely redesigned. Why not just use the original couch design?

Escayg explains: “We’re trying to keep things up to date with the decade of artistic developments and technological improvements since the PlayStation 3. “Is this the most grounded looking couch? Can it stand up in this environment? How does it wear out over time? How does it work with light and time of day in that setting? Is it really? focus Is your attention on Sam and Ellie, or does it diminish? “

Collection: Comparison between ‘The Last of Us Remastered’ (PS4) and ‘The Last of Us Part I’ (PS5) | 12 photos

More broadly, Escayg notes that Naughty Dog has made thousands of “micro-decisions” throughout the entire game. “Is there anything distracting? Get rid of it,” he said. “Do we really need it? Are fans really attached to it? To be we really stick with it? “

Gallant says that a lot of the re-reviews Naughty Dog has done focus on why it designed parts of the game the way they did a decade ago. “This area is simple – it’s simply because we want you to move through it and it means not noticeable, or it’s simply because we’re running out of memory on PlayStation 3 and this is kind of a transition area. from one detailed area to the next? “

Naughty Dog has made an important addition that will fundamentally change the way The Last of Us Part I drama. Now available countless accessibility options, none of which appear in PS3 games or PS4 rebuilds. The feature set includes everything the developer has included Part II in 2020, along with several new additions. Despite the fact that the game wasn’t originally designed with accessibility in mind, Gallant says it’s relatively straightforward to bring these features in – although some of the more unique scenes in the game are harder to explain. .

“An example is the arcade mini game in Left behind,” Gallant said. The mini-game in question requires you to perform a series of specific directional and button presses in a limited amount of time, just like you do in Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. “We needed to design our text-to-speech feature there to give you instructions on what buttons to place very quickly so that you have time to enter the inputs. We worked with accessibility consultants, and they tried several different modifications of that little game. We did a few rounds there to make sure the experience was accessible. “

The PS5’s DualSense controller and its extensive haptics system opened up one of the new accessibility options, the haptics dialog. “This is a feature where we play spoken dialog as a vibration on the controller, and the purpose is to give deaf players a sense of how the transmission is being delivered,” explains Gallant. . Where is the emphasis, what is the beat? And that along with the subtitles provides more of that story context and performance for deaf players. “

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