The Last Of Us on PS4 was ‘hell’ for Naughty Dog

3 min read
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TOO-REAL-DUDE!

Remastered games may be the next HD collection of the new-gen, but they aren’t exactly a case of CTRL+Cing the original title, then CTRL+Ving them onto a Blu-Ray with extra visual Ric Flair. It takes work. Plenty of it! And bringing The Last Of Us up to scratch for the PS4 was hell for Naughty Dog.

Speaking to Edge, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann explained that the project was one of the most difficult challenges that the team had ever tackled. The main problem being of course, that the PlayStation 3 was a notoriously difficult piece of hardware to program on. The Last Of Us was the pinnacle of that system, a game that utilised every inch of the hardware available to create something that looked so special.

And therein lied the challenge, as taking something made so specifically for the PlayStation 3 and translating it for the PlayStation 4 proved to be a monumental challenge. “I wish we had a button that was like ‘Turn On PS4 Mode’, but no,” creative director Neil Druckmann said.

We expected it to be Hell, and it was Hell. Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds… that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimised the game so much for the PS3’s SPUs specifically. It was optimised on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimise it again.

“I can’t describe how difficult a task that is,” Druckmann said.

And once it’s running well, you’re running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn’t screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it’s a drastically different look.

Still, Naughty Dog foresaw this happening, in much the same way that they foresaw a transition on the horizon when they created the Uncharted Engine to help them go from PS2 to PS3 more easily. “Even on in the early days of PS3, we were thinking of the transition to PS4, because of how hard transitions have been in the past,” Druckmann explained.

One way to [test the tools] is to take an existing game and port it, and The Last Of Us Remastered gave us an excuse to bring those systems over, refine them and optimize them for the hardware.

That definitive edition of the game will be out sometime this year probably, even if it does stretch a Blu-Ray disc to its limits.

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Last Updated: May 19, 2014

Darryn Bonthuys

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