The Last of Us isn’t just one of my favorite games of all-time; HBO recently turned it into one of the best TV shows of the last ten years. Mournful and majestic, there’s a reason Naughty Dog’s apocalyptic epic has captured hearts and minds across both video games and television.
That heavy praise aside, the PC port of The Last of Us Part 1 remains nowhere near good enough.
Initially launched in March of 2023, months later, the PC edition of this phenomenal game remains, at best, compromised.
I was one of the first people in the world to review the original PS3 version of The Last of Us when it was released in 2013. I was shocked, I was uplifted and over the course of 16 nerve-shredding hours, I went through one of the most uplifting video game experiences of my 38 years on this spinning rock.
And that’s the main reason I’m so mad at the PC version of The Last of Us Part 1: despite owning an incredibly expensive gaming rig, this port remains demonstrably worse than the recent PS5 remake.
Last in translation
Considering the incredibly high-end hardware I’ve been testing TLoU Part 1 on, that’s a problem. I’ve spent a couple of nights playing through the game’s first opening hour or so on both a custom-built desktop PC with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 and the highest spec edition of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023) and the hands-on results are worse than on Sony’s $479 / 499 console.
The numbers are important here. My personal gaming PC cost upwards of $5K to assemble, while the Zephyrus G14 Asus has loaned me retails at $3,299 / £3,599. Both the desktop and laptop I’ve tested The Last of Us on have variations of the most powerful Nvidia GPU you can currently buy, not to mention incredibly powerful CPUs and 32GB of DDR5 RAM.
Despite the ferocity of this bleeding edge-tech, neither my PC or Asus' laptop can top the PS5 experience of playing the current-gen remake of The Last of Us.
Playing the iconic undead adventure on the G14 at the laptop’s native resolution (2,560 x 1,600, to be exact) at high settings, the PlayStation classic is solid, if unspectacular.
Frame rates generally hover around the high 60s to mid 70s when playing the game uncapped, which I find preferable to playing Joel and Ellie’s journey at a capped 60 fps.
Regardless of whether v-sync is enabled or not, the experience never feels smooth. Admittedly, my eyes are very sensitive to micro stuttering, but all I can tell you is that I find whatever fps dips that occur in the PS5 edition of this survivalist masterpiece to be less noticeable than on a gaming laptop that costs six times the price of Sony's console.
The ROG Zephyrus G14 I’ve been testing the TLoU on is generally a brilliant gaming laptop. Yet the coding behind this PC port appears to be suboptimal; meaning no amount of hardware can completely solve the underlying issues.
Not only does The Last of Us Part 1 perform more poorly on Asus’ incredibly expensive laptop than on PS5, it also underwhelms on my hideously powerful desktop PC. Even the full fat desktop RTX 4090 can’t save the PC port of TLoU Part 1 at time of writing.
Naughty Dogs of war
My experience of playing Naughty Dog’s redux on a PC that’s waaaaay more expensive than a PS5 is that it’s slightly worse than the console experience.
While recent patches have made the game more playable on my rig, the latest version of TLoU still regularly judders between high 50 fps and low 80 fps on my PC. The bottom line? It feels distractingly inconsistent. And I say this playing Ellie’s epic on the world’s most powerful Nvidia GPU hooked up to a G-Sync compatible LG C2 OLED TV.
Does Iron Galaxy’s — the studio trusted with this port — suboptimal effort provide a bad experience, even with the best desktop and laptop hardware powering the reflective adventure? No. The quality of the underlying game means you can still have a good time with TLoU Part 1, regardless of stutters.
But it’s also slightly embarrassing that the studio’s compromised conversion can’t deliver the same quality as consistently as the PS5 remake of a PS3 masterpiece.
When you throw the best PC tech at what’s essentially a decade-old game, and don’t always receive as good results as on PS5, you’ve got more evidence of why developers and publishers need to do better by PC gamers in 2023.
The Last of Us Part 1 is an incredible title, and one of the best PS5 games. But it’s absurd a $500 video game console can consistently run it more smoothly than both one of the most powerful gaming laptops that costs seven times the price of the PS5; not to mention a cutting-edge PC that costs even more than that.