Despite having owned every PlayStation console ever released, I've never actually played The Last of Us. Or any of the sequels. I've owned the first game on both the PS3 and the PS4 and yet, never actually sat down and played it.
Then came the TV show. Knowing nothing of the lore, I went in with an open mind and, like so many others, absolutely fell in love with it. It's one of the best TV shows I've seen in recent years.
So when it finished not long before the long-awaited PC port of The Last of Us Part 1 was due to launch, I was hyped to finally play. I figured it was worth going for the PC version because, honestly, I expected it would afford opportunities to enjoy it in a way the console version wouldn't.
And then it arrived. And all the hype turned into immense disappointment.
The Last Of Us Part 1 on PC is a textbook disaster of a launch
Is it a coincidence that the PC launch was slated so close to the end of the show? Probably not. But let's face it, the show did the marketing for the game. I'm pretty positive I'm not the only person who decided to play after watching and loving it.
So everything should have been great. The hype was there, a legion of new fans was there ready to go, and the pieces were in place. And then the launch actually happened.
The first seeds were sown when the press didn't receive advance review copies. Windows Central included. Sure, it's hardly a new game, but reviews don't just cover the story, graphics, etc. On PC especially, reviews are a crucial early indicator of just how well a game performs. There are more variables to consider than on a console.
I guess now we know why nobody had review copies. This game is terrible on PC. You've probably seen the memes, and the heavily negative reviews on Steam, Reddit, and social media comments, and they're all true.
The launch of The Last of Us Part 1 on PC should have been a momentous occasion. Instead, it's a straight-up disaster.
The port is just plain bad and there's a lot of work to do
I still bought the game. And right now I wish I hadn't bothered and just fired up the PlayStation. But beyond the promise of playing this game on some high-end PC hardware, the other draw was playing on the Steam Deck.
Even though it isn't verified, being playable on the Steam Deck was talked about ahead of time, and, well, it kind of works. But the issues are far from limited to the Steam Deck.
I've played The Last of Us Part 1 on both the Steam Deck and on a gaming laptop packing a 24-core i9-13950HX CPU and RTX 4090. And the experience is bad across the board. Throwing hardware at it doesn't seem to help, so it just looks like a bad port. I'm hoping it gets fixed, but there's plenty to do, and it should not have shipped in this condition.
It's not all bad, I will admit. On max settings, it's a good-looking game. And the story, as expected, is very good, and so is the voice acting. But the process of bringing this game from console to PC is where it all went wrong
On my Steam Deck, I didn't make it through the prologue before the whole thing crashed. Not just the game, but the Steam Deck itself. It went to a black screen and was totally unresponsive. So I'm not even going to try it again right now.
On PC, so far I haven't seen any crashes. But it's hardly a good time. It just feels poor. On a gaming laptop with the most powerful internals that it's possible to have right now, I had to use DLSS to get comfortably above 60 FPS at 1440p running on the highest settings. That might not sound like a disaster, but the RTX 4090 should be able to do that without breaking a sweat.
It's very VRAM-heavy, it seems, and dropping the resolution to 1080p didn't seem to make as much difference as it should. Certainly on this hardware. There are a lot of settings that can be tinkered with, but that doesn't really rescue things.
What's particularly bad is the constant stuttering. There are no parts of my time playing so far that have felt smooth, regardless of the frame rate. It constantly feels jittery, even in areas where there isn't much going on. It's just frustrating.
It didn't have to be this way
Sony has some good PC ports. Spider-Man, for example, is really good and shows off how being on PC can make these games really shine. But The Last of Us needs so much work to get up to this standard. As it sits right now I just can't bring myself to play anymore, because I'm just not enjoying it.
Fingers can be pointed in a number of directions. The studio that handled the PC port on behalf of Naughty Dog has been in the crosshairs before. Iron Galaxy handled Batman: Arkham Knight on PC, and we all remember that. The Last of Us Part 1 hasn't improved that reputation.
Naughty Dog is doing its due diligence and investigating the issues, which is expected. But the studio also snuck out an announcement around the launch of the game that it's officially a PC developer now as well. And this is not a good first look at that future.
For me, and I'm sure many others, all that remains now is to wait. And to hope. Hope that it gets fixed and that we can all begin to enjoy this game as intended. Naughty Dog has said the next round of fixes will begin soon, so it's time to cross everything and hope.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine