The Last of Us Remastered Devs Discuss Making 60fps the New Standard in Games

We try out the Last of Us Remastered edition and talk with the developers about what makes this version of the game different (besides the graphics).

Naughty Dog has already said that The Last of Us Remastered, the PlayStation 4 update of Sony's much-acclaimed survival horror game, will run at 1080p, and the team is aiming to keep it locked in at 60fps. But what's different about this version of the game? After a short play session with a recent build of the game, it's no surprise that it looks better. The colors feel more vibrant, and in those rare moments when you step out into the sun, the horizon seems to stretch forever.

But if The Last of Us already looked great on PS3; so why does it need another version that doesn't add new content? One of Sony's reasons is that a large proportion of PS4 owners haven't played The Last of Us on PS3, but I recently talked with Naughty Dog's Jason Gregory (lead programmer), Christian Gyrling (lead programmer), and Ricky Cambier (lead designer) about why exactly they want to revisit last year's game.

Why is 60fps important?

"It was a toss-up before; people were saying that you lose quality and graphics and what not," Gregory said when asked why Naughty Dog feels that it's such an important component for the game. "But being able to compare apples to apples like we have now with The Last of Us, going back and playing the 30 Hz version feels, to quote some people in the office, 'broken.' There's something that can't be captured in screenshots and playing an adventure game where you just walk around and experience the world at the smooth 60 Hz. [Editor's note: throughout the interview, the Naughty Dog team used fps and hertz interchangeably] You really just have to feel it."

"There was an internal debate just over the artistic-ness of going 30 or 60, and whether or not it would feel weird. Pretty much every person who had said, 'I'm a 30 Hz person, I don't know if I could play it at 60.' When they finally saw it, they said, 'Nevermind, I'm convinced.' We do so much with the animations of the character to convey emotion to the player so when you talk about what's going on with Joel and getting the player to empathize with him. At 60 frames, seeing his breathing change, or when a Clicker shows up and you hear that sound and the way he moves changes, because all the animations are that much more fluid, I think that comes across even more now. That's going to change the play experience just a little bit in the way the players experience that."

You'll be able to see the difference yourself soon enough. In addition to the stream of comparison videos we'll be putting together, Naughty Dog director Neil Druckmann mentioned on Twitter, "Since some people asked for it, we added an optional 30fps mode (gameplay & cinematics). My pref is 60fps all the way."

Will 60fps become the new standard in games?

"We hope so," Gregory said. "It used to just be that first-person shooters were 60 by default, but a lot of other games didn't feel the need for it. I think we're showing that it does make a difference even in a non-FPS type game. And one question that's been fielded on Twitter as a follow-up to the 60 Hz, is whether or not we're always at 1080p. Some games have been doing the whole adaptive resolution where they change the resolution based on what's going on. We are always at 1080p."

What exactly has changed for this version of the game?

"We up-resed textures, we also turned on various graphics features that, on the PS3 we could only afford to turn on here and there in certain spots where it really offered bang for the buck, and in some cases those are turned on across the board now, like the bounce light from the flashlight," Gregory said. "There's better anti-aliasing. Just a host of graphical improvements that bring a lot of crispness and additional quality to the look of the game."

Gyrling added, "Our goal with the Remaster was to keep it as a 'true' remaster. Even though we had some ideas, we wanted to really just focus on keeping the same core experience. We dove into a couple things, like the new features with the PS4 controller."

Remastered uses the PS4 controller's touch pad to allow you to select inventory items, and the light on the front of the controller will interact with the game as well. Gregory said, "We wanted to take advantage of those things and even at times use the speaker on the controller. So those small things that aren't really major changes still contribute to that true feeling of what we can do on this generation. This is what it means to take this game and not change it, but remaster it and provide that experience on the PS4."

How does multiplayer work?

Put simply, any multiplayer DLC content you bought on the PS3 can be downloaded to the PS4 version at no charge. However, the competitive mode is completely separate on PS3 and PS4; you can't transfer your progress over or play against PS3 players when you're on PS4.

New multiplayer content has continued to come since development began on Remastered, but those additions have not been a developmental roadblock. "It is a challenge, but we've been designing our development process and our software architecture ever since we started with The Last of Us," said Gregory. "The guys who worked on the PlayStation 3 stuff, they check in with new features or weapons or whatever, and we can relatively easily migrate that over to the PS4 version and then get it running pretty quickly."

Why not include a separate install disc?

In previous interviews, Naughty Dog has said that the capabilities of the game are limited more by disc space than the power of the PS4. So it would make sense that putting the high-res textures on a separate disc could help make the game look even better and eliminate any file limit considerations.

"I don't think that really goes along with the way we want the user experience to be. You pop in the disc, and we don't want loading screens, we don't want install screens," Gregory explained. "Even now, we've tried to minimize the time you sit and wait for anything to load. Having a second install disc, it really doesn't jive with how we'd like the user to perceive our game. And I think it goes counter to the design of the PS4 in general. One of their founding principles is this idea of immediacy. The idea that a player can purchase a game, get it downloaded quickly, and get right into the game and start playing. So that's certainly a primary goal on PS4 in general."

Cambier added, "So the biggest challenges in bringing the game to PS4 were, number one, shifting to 1080p movies. But we were able to do that with a slightly better encoder and decoder for the video, so it's actually the same amount of space on disc. The second biggest change was going to four times the texture resolution for our in-game assets. We had to re-architect some of our tools to take advantage of texture sharing and how we deal with that to not duplicate and waste space on the disc. At the end of the day, we were able to get everything we wanted onto the disc, and didn't really have to compromise anything. And that's including the full Left Behind DLC, so it was really a challenge, but we figured out how to get it all in there."

What lessons has the team learned for the next Naughty Dog PS4 game?

"It's like taking a crash course in PS4," Gregory said. "The thing is, because you've got a completed game, that game is exercising the hardware in every possible way you can imagine on the PS3. And when you bring it over to the PS4, we have to figure out how do we make that work in terms of the PS4 technology? Whereas if we had started with just a brand new game, we might not have exercised those things for quite some time. This way we feel like we've got a very complete engine, and something that's going to provide a great foundation for moving forward from Uncharted."

Did the team experiment with adding any potential Project Morpheus functionality?

"We haven't really had any time to experiment and play around with Project Morpheus at this point," Gregory said, "We've solely been focused on getting The Last of Us on PS4 to the point where it is. And that in itself is a huge undertaking. Project Morpheus just looks really promising, and we hope to be able to experiment with it later. At this point however, we're just looking at other studio's awesomeness."

Why should you revisit this game if you played on PS3?

Obviously, Remastered looks better, and some players, myself included, plan on picking it up more as an excuse to finally play on a harder difficulty level. But what about other players? Why does Naughty Dog feel the need to revisit a game that's already done so well? Gregory said, "In my view, this is really the way The Last of Us should be played. When you look at it on PS4, on PS3 we were envisioning something that couldn't quite be achieved. It was very well achieved on PS3, but not quite. And on PS4 it feels like the game reaches its full potential."

The Last of Us Remastered is set to release on July 29 for the reduced price of $50.

Written By

Senior Editor, Earthbound fan, and snazzy dresser.

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Discussion

803 comments
swordylove
swordylove

Wow it's not ALREADY the standard? I guess I got adapted to PC gaming too quickly.

codo27
codo27

"60fps the new standard in *console games". Next gen in your own universe, you'll always be lightyears behind us on PC. Its fine if you're happy with less, but its like a Honda Civic. Enjoy your cheap, economical vehicle, don't try to race and hang with the big boys

daltonbay
daltonbay

Going forward, the storage space on a BR disc could prove to be a problem. I read (a long time ago) that Killzone: Shadow Fall originally took up well over 200 gb of storage space. It makes you wonder what they had to compromise in order to fit on a retail disc. Was it miraculous compression or did they dial back content & space hogging textures?

Personally, I'm all for having a 2nd disc if it means that we'll get more content & superior technical quality, be it graphics or audio.

bemushroomed
bemushroomed

Seems like in later articles they're now a bit more careful to not say 60 FPS. "I can't feel any dips" (article from Dual Shockers, quote from a dev). IGN now even says that it's just the pre-rendered cinematics that runs at 60 while the game more humbly strives to achieve 60 FPS. 


So yeah, there's a reason for that 30 FPS lock, more so than what they're really willing to say at this point, that much is obvious.

Slagar
Slagar

Sounds like The Last of Resorts to get this revamp in the news. 


"[whispers] Fck, there's nothing new or novel about this, how can I jazz it up?... [loudly] Oh yeah, um, pssht, those diehard 30 fps guys in our office were all 'Yeah nah', but then we pwned them with 60 eff-pee-esses and they was all like 'Bzzcht please! I'm on board like a pirate on a pirateboat.'"

Slagar
Slagar

"Pretty much every person who had said, 'I'm a 30 Hz person, I don't know if I could play it at 60.'"

Please deliver a swift kickinthenuts to ...pretty much every person who had said that.

Garm31
Garm31

I want to experience the TLOU on PS4. But buying a console just to play a game I already own and have completed four times is not worth it. The lack of PS4 exclusives this year is also a HUGE problem. Finish TLOU and watch the Ps4 gather dust for 6 months. NAH!

metzenlord
metzenlord

I get strong headaches if I play for more than a couple of hours on a game that is locked at 30fps, I can play for longer periods of time if its around 60+, that's why I play on pc most of the time though I really like my consoles.


But why is this impressive again? impressive was TLOU running on a 7 year old console at "720p", probably upscaled but it looked impressive, but the same game with better textures and some bells and whistles on a months old console?


Now No Man's Sky being made by 4-10 people at 1080p/60fps? That IS impressive.


Garm31
Garm31

The lack of actual gameplay so soon before release is worrying. The difference in the cutscene videos released shows a very minimal boost in visual fidelity. The Last of Us  still looks stunning on PS3. Also the 30fps setting is down right creepy. At 60fps, slow down and screen tearing is unacceptable.

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

The first great PS4 game just happens to be the Last great PS3 game....backwards compatibility could have saved you 50 bucks if you were a loyal PS3 owner who got it last year. And my best wishes to Naughty Dog in the valiant effort to make 60FPS the whole industry standard...maybe they should call up other Sony devs of Order 1866 and Driveclub to start the revolution! 60FPS, it's kind of a PC thing really.

OogieBoogie3
OogieBoogie3

Nobody is saying 30FPS is better than 60FPS, it's all a matter of what you want to achieve as a developer. People must not understand how graphics affect performance, because this is really a no brainier. Naughty Dog and really any other developer has the choice to target specifically graphics or performance. A lot of truly visually impressive next generation games run at 30FPS because that's about as low as you can get without seeing a significant decrease in performance. They don't want the game to run at 30FPS, but they feel as if it is a necessary sacrifice in order to achieve better visuals. Naughty Dog has decided that their graphical improvements are enough, and that they don't want to sacrifice flawless performance in the name of even better visual quality. This same concept is why you are seeing so many Xbox one games run at 720p instead of 1080p. The console has no real up-yo-date VRAM, so it's limited as to what it can handle compared to the PS4 which uses GDDR5. In order to achieve flawless performance on the Xbox, resolution is the first an easiest sacrifice.

JRD1912
JRD1912

Love the last of us, not enough to pay for it twice.  This gen really sucks.  I still havent been able to justify. getting a PS4.  I had expected to get one in the spring.  Now Im thinking of waiting till next year and getting a GTX 770 for my PC instead.  Watchdogs finally crossed the line into unplayable for my GTX 465.  Amazed that card held up they way it did.

meatz666
meatz666

'I'm a 30 Hz person, I don't know if I could play it at 60.' - Typical peasantry. 

TacticaI
TacticaI

I loved TLOU, and respect the Naughty Dog team, but I can't take this interview serious. Did I really just read they had to convince game developers 60FPS was the better chioce? Who tf says "Nah, I'm a 30 frames guy myself"? It's a video game for Christ sake. Wow, some of them really drank the Kool-aid about the cinematography in their own game, and I'm sure the vocal minority that likes to shout about how likened to a movie this game is only stroked those egos.

Mindwipe77
Mindwipe77

Im not buying any remastered ps3 games for the ps4.  Injustice, GTA 5, TLOU, tomb raider and now max payne 3?  It's a massive scam.  Will 1/2 the ps4 library be ps3 games?

monkeypants
monkeypants

60fps should have become the console standard with PS1, 30fps is just ugly with games because motion blur still just can't mimic film. But I'm fairly certain the same thing will happen this gen as every gen - devs will want to add a few more graphics buzzwords to their game description, and put out herky-jerky ugly 30fps and sub-30fps graphics - see already Killzone Ps4, EA sports UFC, Need for Speed. If they'd just unlock graphics quality options for console users, we could end the debate - graphics people could have their graphics, frame rate people could have their frame rates.

But good on Naughty Dog for seeing the silky-smooth light.

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

I can say this... I'm betting this will be the best looking current gen game out. Even the PS3 with its ancient hardware is no slouch visually...

That being said I've pre-ordered this already... and loading times on my Samsung 840 SSD have been trumping all my disk based games as it is:)

I'm excited as hell... I know there are some fanboy haters out there... but that's your job. Hate it all day. I will enjoy it!!!

Subterfuge71
Subterfuge71

"The idea that a player can purchase a game, get it downloaded quickly, and get right into the game and start playing."

I could go to Amazon, order the game, and wait the usual 4 days for delivery in the time myself, or anyone else in my area could download the game.

ciano1000
ciano1000

@codo27 Or you could have both like me and enjoy great performance/visuals for third party games on pc and amazing exclusives on playstation,also you get the advantages of both steam sales and ps plus.

thanksgames
thanksgames

As a representive of the PC gaming lot, we recognize these type as a part of our species, but try our best to prevent them from being part of our race. Hopefully they'’ll disappear soon enough.

killedbyzack
killedbyzack

@daltonbay Same here. We're already just installing everything off the disc anyway, and basically using it as like a license for the game, so why not just install both discs, then have it where we keep the first one inserted in the system for playing? If Sony pushes companies to stay within a single Blu Ray, this is going to be a disappointing generation, as how could they expect a system that's exponentially more powerful than PS3 to really look better if a game file's only a couple of times bigger?


Naughty Dog's justification for the size restriction was ludicrous. The game is installed on the hard drive no matter what. I'm more inclined to think they made those statements about the size limitations to get the hype up... they were never having any issues.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@Garm31 Pretty sure it's gonna be a weak GENERATION for true "exclusives", unless you're talking about piecemeal content exclusives for retailers or certain systems (like the exclusive Destiny content on PS4).  Not sure why the game needs to be EXCLUSIVE for you to play it on PS4 though.... PC gamer...?  If that's the case then forget about the PS4 for a while... like I have.

Garm31
Garm31

@rickphoenixxx 

60fps is not needed for third person games. It should only be for FPS, Sports and driving games. 60FPS will sacrifice visual fidelity on consoles. Why makes games uglier then they already look? PC gaming is where the true 60fps experience is at.

alabtrosmyster
alabtrosmyster

@OogieBoogie3 The sad thing is, there are many people saying 30fps is better than 60fps and there are people saying 720p/900p is just as good as 1080p (all else being equal).

If everyone was reasonable there would be no discussion about the "merits" of each of those, except in relation to one another (I.E. sometimes a higher resolution can drive down the frame rate and make the game next to unplayable).

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@JRD1912 DAMN after only  a few months I totally regret buying a brand new system. Who knew it took time to make games? Not me when I did this impulse purchase. Gosh..maybe I should consider available games before buying a console in the future. Nah...

ciano1000
ciano1000

@meatz666 you do know that a lot of people who work at naughty dog probably dont have a playstation?

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@Mindwipe77 It's not really a scam... the last gen simply went on for too long and now developers want to re-release certain games the way they had actually envisioned them.  As a consumer you're absolutely free to pass on such products... no one it being duped or scammed...

hermitkiller
hermitkiller

@kimjong-un What do you do when you see one of your loyal subjects playing below 128?

Instant death or visit to "summer camp" (hard labor)????

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@Subterfuge71 Yes well just because you have awful internet doesn't mean digital isn't convenient for everyone else...


... 4 days to download 10 GB's...?  That's like a dial up modem for crying out loud...

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Is your bandwidth that low? I thought mine was terribly slow, and I have satellite.

JRD1912
JRD1912

@Bread_or_Decide Did you read that I DID NOT buy a PS4, and Im now waiting until next year to get one?  Cuz your sarcasm imply s you cant read. 

meatz666
meatz666

@hermitkiller @meatz666 Like this one? change.org/petitions/console-game-developers-and-console-manufactures-make-custom-button-remapping-a-standard-in-all-console-games

Subterfuge71
Subterfuge71

@canuckbiker A little bit of an exaggeration, but a 50GB game would easily take 48 hours to download, and I just couldn't have a download like that hogging my connection for 48 hours or even 24 hours straight, so it could take a few days downloading overnight to finish. There is an Amazon distribution centre just under 300 miles from where I live, and I have had games arrive in two working days, so yeah, there is the possibility that a hard copy could arrive before the download was finished. Most of the world just isn't ready for a download only future.

JRD1912
JRD1912

@nl_skipper Or maybe actually read that I DID NOT buy a PS4. and I am most likely waiting until next year to get one.  Just an idea.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

I got yah. My cap is 40gb a month, so I go with disc every chance I get.