‘The Last of Us Part I’ directors explain why the game stayed so true to the original

Apart from whether The Last of Us Part I worth the $70 asking price, this remake raises the question of how much the original 2013 game would change. Would developer Naughty Dog treat this as a total overhaul, changing the level design, game mechanics, and player upgrades? Over the past few weeks, as Sony released a handful of preview videos ahead of today’s release, it became clear that wasn’t going to be the case. Instead, the goal was to bring massively updated graphics and a variety of quality of life improvements to a game that would otherwise stay true to its roots.

“This is a unique project for Naughty Dog. It’s the first time we’ve ventured into a full remake,” said creative director Shaun Escayg in an interview. “We knew we wanted to stay as close to the original game as possible, [to] add something that we believe will enhance and improve the experience, but won’t fundamentally change the experience.” This mindset permeates the game, from everything you can see in the environment to the combat against humans and infected.

“We didn’t feel like these combat encounters were dated, and there wasn’t really anything we looked at that said, ‘We want a replay here,'” added game director Matthew Gallant. “We love fighting in The last of us. We think these rooms are really iconic: they’re really strong, they offer a ton of different ways to move and fight. Perhaps what was often obsolete was the technology underlying some of these fights.”

Gallant who was a fight designer on the original The last of us, says the game could only handle eight AI “brains” at one point, despite fights that often had more enemies. That meant they had to reactivate and deactivate those brains based on where the character was and what they were doing. Similarly, he described many of the battles in the original game as “handwritten”. “You move here, they react with it; That was exactly the level of technology that we had at the time and it made sense and we got pretty good results,” he said. “These are really great fights and they hold up really well. But with our latest engine technology, we are much more flexible.”

The new AI is unsurprisingly much more advanced. “We have the ability to share information in the [level] Layout to tell enemies “This is a strong position to defend, this is a good flank route, this is good line of sight to other enemies, and there’s an encounter manager layer that assigns NPCs to roles within combat,” Gallant said. “Now who would be the best flanker, who would be the best person to defend that point, who should be pushing the player now?” In my experience so far, the end result is a game that’s far less predictable than the original – if you caught out of stealth, enemies will advance quickly and mercilessly, especially on harder difficulties. “You should be able to play a fight ten different ways and get ten different outcomes,” he added.

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

Another big question about combat was why Naughty Dog didn’t add some of the new mechanics it was incorporating The Last of Us Part II from 2020. In this game, players control Ellie and Abby, both of whom can lie on the ground to hide in the grass or crawl under vehicles for cover. You can also dodge, a feature that adds a whole new dimension to fights, giving you an out when a clicker or bloater comes your way for an instant one-hit kill.

According to Gallant, the ripple effects of adding dodges to the original game would have been too great. “Dodge doesn’t live in a vacuum,” he said. “You have to add tells to the enemy attacks and now the enemies will attack differently. You may also need to change meeting rooms; You have to give a little more space to have this dodge gameplay. Additionally, adding dodges would lessen the tension that Naughty Dog was trying to bring to the game’s battles.

“If you have dodges, you kind of have an off. Then suddenly a fight that was very claustrophobic and tense and nerve wracking — this thing comes at you and you have to land that headshot to kill it — you get a whole different feeling when you dodge it,” Gallant said.

But the most important thing, according to Gallant, is to play the way Joel fundamentally has to play feeling other than playing as Ellie and only broadcasting her moves would reduce these differences. “The way Joel plays says a lot about his character,” he said. “He’s a thug, he’s a brawler, he’s an older man. The way he fights is meant to feel very different than the way Ellie fights The Last of Us Part II. She’s a younger woman, she’s nimble, she has completely different abilities.” Fans can continue to argue whether Naughty Dog should have gone further with the changes it’s made to gameplay, but it’s also reasonable that they want to keep the characters part One differs from those in Part II

The Last of Us Part I Screenshot

While it will take players some time to appreciate the magnitude of the AI ​​updates, the graphical improvements are immediately apparent. For me, the most noticeable change is the facial animations, but the extent to which Naughty Dog went in and looked at every aspect of a scene to enhance it is just as impressive. For example, while Joel and Ellie roam the Pittsburgh suburbs with their new companions Henry and his teenage brother Sam, Ellie and Sam take a break on a couch in a ruined house. Looking at old screenshots, I saw that the couch has been completely redesigned. Why not just use the original couch design?

“We’re trying to update everything with the decade of artistic evolution and improvement in technology since the PlayStation 3,” Escayg explained. “Is that the grounded looking couch? Can it exist in this environment? How does it wear out over time? How does the lighting and time of day work in this environment? Actually it does focus Your attention on Sam and Ellie, or is that distracting?”

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

More generally, Escayg notes that Naughty Dog made thousands of “micro-decisions” throughout the game. “Anything lengthening? Let’s remove it,” he said. “Do we really need this? Are the fans really attached to it? Are we really attached to it?”

Gallant says that much of the reevaluation Naughty Dog has undertaken has focused on why it designed parts of the game the way they did a decade ago. “This area is easy – is it easy because we want you to kind of move through it and you want it to be unobtrusive, or is it just because we were low on memory on the PlayStation 3 and this was kind of a transition area of ​​one detailed area to a next?”

Naughty Dog has made a major addition that will fundamentally change the way The Last of Us Part I plays. There are tons of accessibility options now, none of which were present in the PS3 game or PS4 remaster. The feature set includes everything the developer put into it Part II in 2020, along with some new additions. Despite the fact that the game wasn’t originally designed with accessibility in mind, Gallant says it was relatively easy to adopt these features – although some of the more unique scenes in the game were more difficult to accommodate.

“An example is the arcade mini-game in left behind‘ Galant said. The mini-game in question requires you to perform a specific series of directional and button presses in a limited amount of time, as you do in Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. “We had to design our text-to-speech capability there to give you the instructions on what buttons to put in very quickly so that you have time to make the entries. We worked with accessibility consultants and they tried different versions of this minigame. We did a few laps there to make sure that experience is accessible.”

The PS5’s DualSense controller and its extensive haptic system opened up one of those new accessibility options, dialogic haptics. “This is a feature where we play the spoken dialogue as vibrations on the controller,” Gallant explained, “and the intention is to give deaf players a sense of how the line was delivered. Where was the emphasis, what was the cadence? And that, along with the subtitles, provides more of that story context and performance for deaf players as well.”

https://www.engadget.com/the-last-of-us-part-1-gameplay-design-interview-160017228.html?src=rss ‘The Last of Us Part I’ directors explain why the game stayed so true to the original

Russell Falcon

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