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A Perfect Game, a Botched Port: Review of The Last of Us Part I on PC

By Cecil Gao
Apr. 3, 2023 updated 08:00

In February of this year, Naughty Dog announced that the PC version of The Last of Us remake (The Last of Us Part I), originally scheduled for release on March 3rd, would be delayed until March 28th. After the success of the show and additional hype for the PC release, it appears the developers wanted to take a few extra weeks to ensure that the game was polished enough to meet players’ high expectations.

While the delay may have been due to a scheduling conflict with Capcom's Resident Evil 4 Remake, the outstanding quality of The Last of Us remake, along with its stunning next-gen graphics and the hype of its first-ever PC release, should have been enough to give any other game a run for its money.     However, to the surprise of many, The Last of Us Part I’s launch on Steam was met with mostly negative reviews. This was a shock considering the game's previous success on PlayStation platforms and its critical acclaim.

Poor Optimization

The PC version of The Last of Us Part I has received heavy criticism from players for its unbearable optimization issues. According to statistics from the Steam store earlier this year, most mainstream players are still using older graphics cards like the 1650 and 1060 from the 10 series, which provide a nightmarish experience when playing the game.

Despite meeting or even exceeding the minimum system requirements listed on the game's store page, many players have reported widespread frame drops, stuttering, and even unplayable conditions with these older graphics cards.

Unfortunately, upgrading to a higher-end graphics card does not necessarily improve the game's performance either. Even users with high-end graphics cards like the 30 and 40 series have been complaining about frequent minor frame drops, which can still severely impact the otherwise smooth gameplay experience. With even high-end PCs failing to get consistent performance, players have been left disappointed and frustrated.

Our overall experience with an RX6800XTOur overall experience with an RX6800XT

The problems don't end there, as the game has a litany of other optimization issues. It consumes an absurd amount of RAM, suffers from frequent crashes, and takes an excruciatingly long time to load shaders. Even if you can tolerate the frame drops, few can tolerate constant crashes and endless loading screens.

One player reported spending 45 minutes on the loading screen, only to spend an equal amount of time waiting for shaders to load. After finally making it through the initial setup, the game crashed after just 10 minutes of cutscenes and 5 minutes of actual gameplay.

That player then endured crashes and more load screens before giving up and refunding the game.

Another player recorded the number of times the game crashed, and it's a terrifying number considering they had only played for 6 hours.

Both players and the game will crash eventuallyBoth players and the game will crash eventually

Despite the myriad issues plaguing the PC version, The Last of Us Part I is still a cross-generational masterpiece. This game is not just a graphical facelift, but it also brings back some of the excellent details from Part II: the sound effects of blood splattering during combat and more agile enemies, the character models that have been revamped based on the sequel, and the post-apocalyptic scene design that Naughty Dog has already reached the peak of.

All of these factors have taken this remake to a whole new level, built upon the shoulders of giants. The world is both brutal and beautiful, and The Last of Us Part I undoubtedly embodies the original game's themes more perfectly through its audiovisual presentation.

It's worth mentioning that the options for accessibility and image quality settings are extremely complex, allowing players to highly customize their gaming experience. Of course, all of this still depends on Naughty Dog's reasonable optimization.

As of now, Naughty Dog has released the second targeted optimization patch, which mainly addresses issues such as excessive memory usage and long shader load times. After the emergency fixes, the game's framerate and smoothness have improved, and some players have begun to change their negative reviews.

Our frame rate after the patchesOur frame rate after the patches

However, a significant number of players' problems remain unresolved.However, a significant number of players' problems remain unresolved.

In fact, after it is reasonably optimized, the PC version of The Last of Us Part I will undoubtedly be an excellent game. It allows PC players without consoles to experience this legendary game's poignant storytelling through seamless keyboard and mouse controls and to be moved by it.

Unfortunately, bad PC ports are a common occurrence. Cyberpunk 2077 had a rough start. Following years of improvement, it was a much better game and was able to bring many players back to it with the release of Edgerunners. Naughty Dog has gone a different way, turning a beloved game into a beloved TV show, then delivering a mess of a PC launch. With a few more patches, it will undoubtedly be an amazing experience for players. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have it finished in time.