New Last of Us II update brings Grounded mode, permadeath, 8-bit visuals, more

Last of Us II update

Naughty Dog has now announced a brand new Last of Us II update. Finally releasing back in June to rave critical reviews, user impressions were much more split, despite general consensus seemingly leaving the game in good graces overall. Naughty Dog’s new free update is hoping to offer its players base significantly more options through a series of new difficult game modes, a long list of Naughty Dog-created gameplay mods, and a host new graphical rendering modes. Head below for all of the details.

New Last of Us II update

The new Last of Us II update features the return of “Grounded difficulty.” It will become a base difficulty option when starting the story, whether you have beaten the game already or not. Described as the “ultimate test of skill,” the new Grounded difficulty setting makes the experience significantly more challenging. The enemies are drastically more difficult, while ammo, upgrades, and crafting materials are even more scarce than ever before. Grounded will also do away with select HUD elements and disable Listening Mode.


Still not hard enough? The new Permadeath mode should change that. Naughty Dog will also introduce permanent death as part of the new Last of Us II update, which will force players to start over if they die. Although there are some interesting options here. Players can choose to use permadeath “with checkpoints on a per-chapter or per-act basis.” So you’ll just be starting each day or act over if you die, as opposed to the entire game. While not required to platinum the game, a pair of new trophies have always been added for completing the game in Grounded or Permadeath mode.

Visual, Audio, and Gameplay Modifiers:

Naughty Dog is also introducing a host of graphical, audio, and gameplay modifiers to The Last of Us 2 to spice up the experience even more. On the visual side of things, there are 30 new graphics rendering modes that essentially are just visual overhauls that give the game an entirely different appeal including retro 8-bit, black and white noir thriller, and sepia-toned classic (some of which are seen throughout this post). There are also “several new audio modifiers that allow you to change the look and feel of the game,” but no specifics were given out today.

All available inside the Extras menu and unlocked after completing the game, a long list of new gameplay modifiers is coming as part of the new Grounded Last of Us II update. These mods add interesting wrinkles to the experience like “One Shot or Touch of Death that enable one-hit kills or Infinite Ammo, Infinite Crafting, or Infinite Listen Mode Range.”

Here’s the complete list from Naughty Dog:

  • Mirror World
  • Mirror on Death
  • Slow Motion
  • Bullet Speed Mode
  • Infinite Ammo
  • Infinite Crafting
  • Infinite Melee Durability
  • Infinite Listen Mode Range
  • One Shot
  • Touch of Death
  • 8-bit Audio
  • 4-bit Audio
  • Helium Audio
  • Xenon Audio
  • Saves now display playtime up to the second
  • Film Grain Adjustment option
  • Disable Listen Mode option
  • Motion Sensor Function Aiming option
  • Arc Throw HUD Display option
  • Aiming Acceleration Scale option
  • Aiming Ramp Power Scale option
  • Accessibility improvements to Ground Zero encounter, collectible tracking, Enhanced Listen Mode for collectibles, and rope gameplay

9to5Toys’ Take:

Clearly Naughty dog is looking to enhance the re-playability of its narrative-driven action game. The new Last of Us II update is a completely free one and also includes some “frequently requested improvements to the game” like “option to disable Listen Mode, adjust Film Grain levels, additional display options, improvements to accessibility features, and more.” There’s even a new seconds counter for speedrunners in the saves menu. While it might not be the major DLC story add-on you were hoping for, there’s loads of new content to play with here that will almost certainly increase the value of your initial investment in the game, without spending another nickel. Rumors are already suggesting PS5 upgrades will be free as well.

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