Before we begin: Five settings to change in The Last of Us Part I

Screenshot: Naughty Dog

At this rate, we’ll never see the last of The Last of Us. Before a high-profile HBO adaptation, Naughty Dog released a top-down remake, called The Last of Us Part I, for the PlayStation 5.

Make no mistake: The Last of Us Part I is fundamentally the exact same game as its 2013 original (and subsequent 2014 remaster, for PlayStation 4). In my testing, the guides that already exist for the original apply here, right down to combinations of safes and other locked doors. If you’re looking for hyper-specific advice, you’re better off checking out Kirk’s initial advice. [website crumbles into dust].

Still, Part I is hands down the most mechanically superior version of the game, and with the improvements come some changes. Like its immediate predecessor, 2020’s The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4, Naughty Dog included an impressive array of settings and accessibility options. You will find more than 60 sliders and settings that you can modify. Most of them come down to preferences, the kind of things you’ll want to tweak as you play, but there are a handful that are worth enabling from the jump.

Vibrant speech

Vibration speech, found in the DualSense menu, is one of the few parts of The Last of Us Part I that makes it feel like a legitimate PS5 game (rather than an extremely pretty PS4 one). The setting causes the PS5 controller to vibrate when a character speaks and does so at the same cadence as their speech. It’s very good! It’s also a bit intense by default. For me, I’ve found the sweet spot of speech loudness at 5 o’clock vibrations, enough to “hear” the characters talking, but not so much that it’s distracting.

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Screenshot: Naughty Dog / Kotaku

Custom difficulty

The Last of Us Part I can be played on six difficulty levels, ranging from: very easy, easy, moderate, hard, survivor and, after beating the game, grounded. But the challenge is not so linear. You can adjust the difficulty for five different aspects of the game:

  • Player: Dictates how much damage you take from attacks and how often or infrequently you clock checkpoints in the middle of a fight.
  • Enemies: Basically dictates how expert (or unintelligent) your enemies are.
  • Allies: Determines how often your allies help you in combat.
  • Stealth: Controls a number of variables related to stealth, including how long it takes enemies to alert their teammates after spotting you.
  • Resources: Regulates how often resources such as food, ammo, and crafting supplies spawn.

So if you’re great at staying out of sight but struggle with the all-out action segments, you can reflect that in a custom difficulty setting. There is also an advantage for masochists. While you can’t start a new game from the highest possible difficulty level, even if you’ve played it a thousand times in its previous iterations, you can manually set them to ground them for one more run difficult in fact.

Photo mode shortcut

The Last of Us Part I is undoubtedly one of the best-looking games on the console right now. In other words: you’ll want to take a lot of screenshots. Normally, entering photo mode requires opening the menu, which slows the game down, unless you enable the photo mode shortcut in the controls menu. When enabled, you can go directly to photo mode by pressing both thumbs at the same time. Just be sure to get the timing right or you’ll set off Joel’s flashlight and ruin your shot!


Tooltips, at the bottom of the HUD menu, are sometimes set by default. But they are much more cumbersome than useful. On the one hand, they only provide advice on the critical path. Sometimes you know exactly what to do to continue the story, but since it’s a Naughty Dog game (dense levels worth exploring), you want to poke around a bit to see if you can find any key collectibles or resources . And that brings me to the most annoying part of the hints in Part I: once a hint appears, it doesn’t go away until you complete the task it tells you to do. This is where I remind you that all the guides already written for this game are just as effective now as they were a decade ago.

Screenshot: Naughty Dog

Arc reticle style

For the most part, yes, The Last of Us Part I is the same game as The Last of Us. A subtle change: There’s a new aiming system for the bow. And it does a bit of shit. By default it only includes a standard dot as a reticle, not ideal for measuring distances when aiming with a bow. But if you change the bow reticle style setting, found in the HUD menu, to classic, you can see the arrow’s path as intended: with a clear trajectory showing where it will land. Not only is this AF useful, it’s also a reminder that, yes, some things are better left untouched.

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