performance tested on PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro –


It has become a kind of digital foundry tradition to come out every stop when a new exclusive first part console arrives, especially from a developer with a rich history in the rise of the state of the art. We intend to do just that with Naughty Dog’s The Last of us Part 2 – one of the most technologically impressive games of the generation and a fitting farewell to PlayStation 4 from one of its most talented studios. However, strict embargo conditions mean that this coverage will arrive on the day of the game’s launch. For now, video restrictions mean we can’t show you new areas of play beyond those of the preview phase, and by extension, trying to produce our video review style would do the game a bad service accordingly – we don’t think we can show you what makes this game great. Our choice is to wait until the embargo phase is complete before delivering our coverage (always without spoiler) technical review, but in the here and now we can at least address platform comparisons and performance – and the picture here is rosey.Flashback to June 2013 and the release of The Last of Us on PlayStation 3. In delivering his post-apocalyptic America, the developer faced a huge challenge—not only to create the most detailed and visually dense environments he’s ever created (heavy on foliage and organic matter – not so easy to make) but also to illuminate them properly. The key issue here is the lack of direct light sources in the game, with most of the lighting delivered by indirect sunlight. Naughty Dog needed to simulate how sunlight would bounce around the world via real-time, calculated oven-based lighting. Meanwhile, the developer has also increased the ante with intensive transparency effects GPU and particle work – especially intensive with cloud attacks of spores from the infected. Add that to improvements in physics, animation and AI and the end result was a game that pushed PlayStation 3 hard, really hard, and to put it simply, he couldn’t quite cope. 30 frames per second was the target, but much of the game would take place in the bottom at mid-20s. It took the PS4 and PS4 Pro heavy graphics to deliver a TLOU experience that eliminated the game’s performance limits.

And that’s why it’s important to put the Last of Us Part 2 through its steps, something we can do in the here and now. We see Naughty Dog addressing many of the same goals here as he had with his epic PlayStation 3, but with a generational leap in ambition. The environments are even more detailed, more overgrown and rich in foliage – delivered with a much wider reach (something only alluded to in the media revealed by Naughty Dog so far). Indirect lighting is also rendered skillfully and there are times in the game when you just have to sit back and enjoy the show – the way the light interacts with physical materials has been raised to another level of this generation and the last of us part 2 manages to deliver a strangely Natural To watch. He does all this with a level of performance that he lacked. Running at 30fps is not the target, it’s the default for the vast majority of the experience.

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John Linneman and Rich Leadbetter share their thoughts on the embargo on The Last of Us Part 2.

It’s not a perfect read – water in particular seems to cause some minor problems – but as you’ll see in the built-in video, the image time chart shows only a few abandoned images in the affected areas – a handful really – taking average image frequency down from a locked 30s to the high 20s. Interestingly though, it’s only really PlayStation 4 Pro that’s really affected – the ride is smoother even on the basic unit. All this to say that the PS4 and PS4 Pro run pretty much perfectly, and while we can only show a small part of the game in the video, we’ve played it almost all the way through and the outlook doesn’t change from what you see here.

Resolution-wise, we are looking for an evolution of the same engine that delivered Uncharted 4, so it is not surprising to see that the same basic presentation is delivered. We had already noted that PlayStation 4 Pro works at a native 1440p (although without aliasing through one of the best TAA solutions on the market), but it’s nice to confirm that the PS4 base offers the full resolution 1920-1080 we came to expect. The highly effective HDR solution is the same on both systems, and we can also confirm that if your Pro is set to 1080p or 4K output, you get the same internal 1440p pixel-account.

All this to say that with The Last of Us Part 2, Sony has delivered an efficient platform-parity in terms of visual specification, with just a resolution boost delivered to those who bought the improved machine. Yes, the basic PS4 has a tiny and marginal performance advantage, but it’s basically a non-issue and didn’t stop us from playing through the game on the Pro hardware.

As mentioned, this is just the tip of the iceberg and we have so much more to say about the latest part 2, so join us on launch day or pretty much for the full perspective of the digital foundry on what is a historical title.


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