Discover a masterpiece turned into a disasterpiece in our The Last of Us Part I PC review.
*ADDENDUM* The Last of Us Part I is in a much more polished, functional state as of May 2023. Visual bugs are now nonexistent and the game operates at a high framerate within its minimum/recommended specifications. The following review details the performance/quality within the first few days after launch, March 28th, 2023.
The Last of Us Part I makes its way to PC ten years past its initial release on PlayStation 3. We reviewed the PlayStation 5 version on launch and as someone that’s played every iteration of this title to date and with a computer that exceeds the recommended specifications, I’ve been highly awaiting this release, even though it’s the fourth platform that it’s arrived on. That is for one simple reason: mouse and keyboard aiming.
Now on PC!
As someone that can’t aim for their life with a controller, I’m thrilled to experience one of my favorite titles of all time in a fashion that I haven’t been able to for a decade. The timing couldn’t be better, either – season one of the HBO series has concluded, so the interpretation is fresh in my memory and I’m more absorbed in the source material than I ever have been.
With PlayStation’s IPs slowly but surely making their way to PC seamlessly (like Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves and Spider-Man: Miles Morales), let’s see if this port continues the trend in our The Last of Us Part I PC review!
The Last of Us Part I PC Review – Optimisation and Porting
An important piece to take heed of for those playing The Last of Us Part I is that on first launch, it is vital to let the shaders build before getting into the action. If you don’t, you’re essentially playing a game that isn’t fully installed. This can feel tiresome as The Last of Us Part I is a 70+GB download, and you’ll be forced into more waiting to let this process finish, but I recall sitting and waiting for a second installation for a game on the same platform The Last of Us Part I released on: Metal Gear Solid 4.
Wait, Joel, where did you get those sick Tetris pants?
It may seem disconcerting to wait, but one factor of the wealth of negative reviews is that the game wasn’t optimized for most players’ machines. I do feel this should have been communicated better but erring on the side of caution let me get a better experience than most – or so I thought.
Iron Galaxy Studios is helming the port for The Last of Us Part I. This company’s PC porting track record includes Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, and… Batman: Arkham Knight. The latter should be immediately concerning to anyone who played that title on launch, as it was so out of sorts that it had to be removed from Steam for a spell.
QZ got that sweet RGB lighting.
We reviewed the Uncharted port and while it performed spectacularly and looked gorgeous, there were occasional audio bugs resulting in crackling/popping sound the majority of the game. I note this because I experienced the same thing in the early goings of The Last of Us Part I before fiddling with some audio settings. Despite this rough start, the chaotic, traumatic opening held together and, despite some frame drops, didn’t stutter or crash.
The Last of Us Part I PC Review – Performance & Visuals
Once I pushed through the introduction of The Last of Us Part I’s gut-wrenching opener (I’ve played this game how many times and still cry during that opening?), the PC port started to unravel. The walls were painted with strange RGB lighting errors in the first alley Joel walked. The framerate tanked to sub-30 FPS on Medium settings, which managed to use more than 8GB of VRAM on my RTX 3080. The lighting glitch came back in certain shadowy areas, whereas the game looked completely fine elsewhere.
This game looks more colourful than I remember.
I also noticed The Last of Us Part I pushed both my CPU and GPU to maximum usage and past the high-temperature threshold, so I opted to restart the title. The old “turn it off and on again” trick did some wonders after a 38MB patch the following day, so credit where it’s due – Iron Galaxy are hard at work to remedy their errors and the game is playable should you have a beefy PC.
The floor is lava.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that The Last of Us Part I has so many graphics settings on PC. Having this much customization at hand is nice for those well-versed in what needs to be tweaked to meet their performance and visual needs, and this title’s menu does a great job at explaining what each setting does, what parts of the PC it stresses, and calculating the total VRAM usage.
Optimise to your heart’s content. Hopefully it’ll help!
However, when a port releases in this state, it becomes a puzzle to figure out what setting needs to be tweaked in what way to fix the bevy of problems presented. With this being such a high-profile release and being one of Sony’s flagship IPs at a vital time in its existence, I have a strong feeling Iron Galaxy will get things patched up.
The Last of Us Part I’s PC port is currently the worst way to play the acclaimed title. Three generations of PlayStation can handle the game magnificently, so even the most diehard fans can just go play it on any of their consoles instead. It’s evident that Sony wanted to capitalize on the hype that The Last of Us HBO series generated and didn’t opt to delay this game any further.
Unfortunately, it’s glaringly obvious that Joel and Ellie needed just a little more time under the hood. The Last of Us Part I may be worth playing on PC in a month or so when the game is finally fit for computers, but it’s a tragedy to see that even the biggest games in the world aren’t safe from a dodgy PC port.
So, why should you play The Last of Us Part I on PC?
- You have no other option
- May be a reasonable port once patched and polished
But why shouldn’t you play The Last of Us Part I on PC?
- Poorly optimised PC port
- Littered with visual glitches
- The worst way to play a brilliant game
A review code on PC was kindly provided for the purpose of our The Last of Us Part I PC review. To find out about a better version of the game, check out our The Last of Us Part I review on PlayStation 5 and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about this port!