Before I get too deep into my review of The Last of Us Part I on PC, I need to get something out of the way. I am not a very quacky duck. Just because I hear all the other ducks quacking doesn’t mean that I’m going to quack too. Even when the quacking of the ducks reaches cacophonic levels, and all of the ducks are jumping up and down in puddles and throwing their bodies at each other in a giant duck mosh pit, if I don’t feel like I have a reason to quack, I’m not gonna quack. I’m more of a quiet, silently judging duck.
What does all this duck talk have to do with The Last of Us Part I? Well, there have been a lot of ducks quacking online about what a terrible mess this PC release has been. The Internet chose the PC version of The Last of Us as its “March Pile On” game, and the message was heard loud and clear, ringing from the rafters: PC gamers were unhappy with the condition of this release. But you know what? That simply was not my experience. (Nor mine either - John Yan) And though I can respect and understand the experiences and frustrations of others, I’m not going to bash on a game based on others’ experiences.
Instead, I’m going to talk about my own experience with The Last of Us Part I on PC, which has been pretty good. Perfect? No. But this is my first time playing The Last of Us, and I find that I don’t want to talk about all of the technical stuff; I want to talk about the game. But everyone under the sun at this point has either played or read a zillion reviews of The Last of Us. You aren’t here to read about how much I loved the game, and how entranced I was with this – from my perspective – alternate take on the adventures of Joel and Ellie. You are here for the technical stuff.
So, even though I’m not a tech dude, I know that I need to take care of some business first, so let’s just get it over with. I’m running The Last of Us Part I on a GeForce RTX 2080 video card. My PC has 32GB of RAM. My processor is an Intel Core i5-10600K CPU @4.10GHz. It's not a beefy computer, but well within the recommended spec that Naughty Dog has posted.
My PC is fairly middle-of-the-road, performance-wise. I was able to run The Last of Us Part I on mostly High Settings, with a few settings on Medium. I pretty much stuck with the default settings the game assigned me, with the exception of flipping on HDR on my monitor, which then in turn required me to activate it in the game.
So, what problems did I have with The Last of Us Part I? Well, the shader builder sucks; you won’t get any argument out of me there. I remembered from my previous experience with the Uncharted PC port to let it build before trying to load the game, but yeah, it took forever – far longer than I remember Uncharted taking. I took a nap while it did its thing.
Beyond that, I noticed a few small hitches in the framerate; mostly right when loading into a new area, and almost too brief to even be noticed. This happened maybe two or three times during my entire playthrough. And one time, when the game was reloading after I got killed, it loaded up, I took two steps as Joel, and it crashed to desktop. Just once. I played the majority of the game before it was patched. I have no idea what the framerate was, but it seemed pretty smooth, and outside of the minor hitching I mentioned, I didn’t see any slowdown. Oh, and my PC fan sounded like a military jet taking off the entire time I played, which is a bit unusual.
So yes, some technical glitches, but nowhere near the disaster that I’ve seen other gamers reporting. Is it enough to knock down my score a couple of points? Sure. It is enough to take a core game that clearly deserves a 10 and put it down in the 4-5 range? Hell no, absolutely not. Yes, it is a shame that The Last of Us Part I was released in such dire condition on PC, and I acknowledge that others are having serious issues with the game. But I can only report on my own experiences, which fall under the “not too bad” category.
But what about the game itself? Not how it ran, but how it felt to play? The emotions it inspired? How did I like The Last of Us Part I?
Well, I loved it, obviously. This game didn’t inspire one of the best HBO shows of all time because it sucked. And due to a strange twist of fate, my first experience with the adventures of Joel and Ellie came via that HBO show, so I was viewing the game through the unique perspective of comparing it to the show, rather than the other way around.
I actually own maybe four copies of The Last of Us, and just never got around to playing it. I first bought it on PS3, but I had a pretty gnarly hand injury at the time, and as much as I wanted to play the latest Naughty Dog game, I never even made it to the history museum in Boston. My crumpled hands just wouldn’t cooperate enough, and I ended up watching TV for a couple of months instead of gaming. I’ve taken a couple of other half-hearted stabs at the game since then, when various free copies would pop into my library. But nope, this was the first time I’ve gone end-to-end with The Last of Us.
I was surprised at how much DNA The Last of Us shares with Uncharted, a series that I dearly love. While the characters and setting are dramatically different, and Joel is much more capable of getting killed than Nathan Drake, many of the mechanics of the two games feel very similar to one another. Come into a new area. Creep around and stealth some dudes. Find the path forward. Boost each other up a ladder.
But there are also massive divergences between the franchises. Nathan Drake rarely struggles with ammo issues, for example, and the humor in The Last of Us is far more grim than Drake’s endless supply of witty quips. And while both games dispatch hundreds of foes in heinous ways, in The Last of Us, Ellie – at least occasionally – expresses some shock at the level of violence on display.
I was of course familiar with many of the major story beats in The Last of Us; even without watching the show it’s tough to be anywhere near the video game industry and not know at least a little. But knowing what happens and experiencing it for the first time are two very different experiences. I loved seeing the way certain characters were represented in the game, and then pondering the ways the HBO show chose to change them. The story in this game is ridiculously strong, and as a new player in 2023, I can tell you that it absolutely stands the test of time. It felt brand new to me, like I was the first person every seeing it.
The core gameplay feels so amazingly balanced, with combat, stealth, and exploration sections intertwined in a way that feels almost rollercoaster-like in execution; it thrills, it terrifies, it gives you time to catch your breath a little. Then it starts all over again.
Despite the technical difficulties, the game looks amazing on my PC. Though the player is clearly being funneled ever forward through a linear path, the world around them looks unbelievably real. I loved just hanging out in the hotel rooms, restaurants, and shops I found myself in, and just checking out the scenery and the way the dust floated through the sunbeams. Unopened mail left on kitchen counters. Baby stuff heaped forgotten in a crib. Suitcases floating through a hotel lobby. I spent way too much time in a toy shop the gang wandered through, as it gave me pangs of nostalgia for a world I’ve never visited.
So yes, The Last of Us Part I absolutely worked for me, both emotionally and – to a lesser extent – technically. I imagine that by the time this review goes live, even more of the difficulties players have been experiencing will have subsided. And a month or two from now, all that will be left standing is one of the greatest games of all time, now playable on PC. Sure, it could have been in better shape right out of the gate. But when the core gameplay is this great, and the story telling is this strong, I’m willing to give a game the benefit of the doubt. And like I said above, it just wasn’t that bad for me. Certainly not bad enough to quack about.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile