The Last of Us Part II is getting its first major update today, with developer Naughty Dog adding a slew of new visual and audio effect modifiers, optional cheat codes, and two new difficulty settings. The update is available for all owners of the game for free, and it should add a bit of much-needed replay value for those who may want to try the existing New Game Plus option or players still interested in trophy hunting.
The bulk of the update is a set of new visual and audio effects, alongside cheat codes, that can make The Last of Us Part II a much trippier and less stressful affair. For instance, you can give the game an 8-bit retro aesthetic or a hand-drawn one reminiscent of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series. There are at least 20 filters you can add, including basic ones like cool and warm or really intense ones like “blood” red and “fire” orange. There’s also render modes that radically change the entire visual aesthetic, like “pop poster” for imposing bright fluorescent color schemes and “void” for turning the world into something like a Matrix-style simulation.
As for the cheats, all of the standard options are there. You can turn on infinite ammo, infinite crafting, and a one-shot cheat that lets you down any enemy with a single bullet. But there are some other really interesting ones like the ability to slow down time to 25 percent speed while aiming and “mirror world,” which horizontally flips the world rendering to make everything feel just a little bit different. The cheat menu also has audio effect options like “8-bit audio” and “helium audio,” which Naughty Dog says “pitches the audio down, as if the atmosphere were filled with helium gas.” (It makes everyone sound like they just sucked the air out of a birthday balloon.)
Lastly, the new difficulty settings are not two separate options, but one mode with a special setting nestled within. The mode is called “grounded,” and it’s an even more grueling and bare-bones twist on the game’s survival horror mechanics. In grounded mode, players will lose access to HUD elements like ammo count, and listen mode is severely restricted on top of the hardcore damage and limited resource settings from the previous most-difficult option.
And if you choose to enable permadeath, a setting option within grounded mode, you’ll have to endure an even more extreme restriction. In following with Naughty Dog’s plentiful accessibility options, even within permadeath mode, there are settings you can tweak, such as resetting the entire game back to the beginning of the current act when you die or resetting the whole game. Either option sounds like a challenge only the most dedicated players will attempt.
Naughty Dog says there will be two new trophies added to The Last of Us Part II — one for completing the game on grounded mode and another for doing so with a version of permadeath enabled. Neither will be required to achieve the Sony’s coveted platinum trophy, which, in this case, requires you to unlock only the initial set of trophies that arrived with the game’s launch back in June.