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  • Writer's pictureCourt Lalonde

Surviving "No Return" mode in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered: A Review

The last of US

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered was only annouced in November 2023 but is set to release on January 19th, 2024.

Not only are we getting The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, but we're also getting some extra features. Along with updated graphics, The Last of Us Part II Remastered's graphics will be in native 4K output in Fidelity Mode, 1440p upscale to 4K in Performance Mode, an Unlocked Framerate option for TVs that support VRR, increased texture resolution, increased Level-of-Detail distances, improved shadow quality, animation sampling rate, and more. This will all make the game look and run beautifully as long as your TV can support but if you have bought a PS5, your TV most likely can.

What intrigued me the most was the new mode, No Return, a roguelike survival mode that lets players have randomized encounters and experience the brutality of The Last of Us Part 2's combat like never before. Thanks to PlayStation Canada, I got a chance to play it before launch. Typically, these roguelike modes aren't my cup of tea, but after playing God of War Ragnorok: Valhalla, I was excited about it. I haven't had enough time to re-play the story of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, but in this review, I will focus on No Return mode and whether it makes The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered a must-buy.

I will be doing a full review of all the other new features, like how the game feels compared to the PS4 version and the other additions like Guitar Free Play mode, updated graphics, fast load times, and behind-the-scenes of the making of The Last of Us Part 2. That review will come later, as I don't want to rush it, and if you have played the Last of Us Part 2 before, you know it's long.

I want to focus on No Return in this review, and spoiler alert if you haven't played The Last of Us Part 2 before as all the characters I will mention you meet during The Last of Us Part 2. I almost feel The Last of Us was meant to have a roguelike mode. Many games have tried to have one of these modes, but most of the time, I'm not a fan. Far Cry 6 was a recent example of when I feel it failed and made no sense for that game. It worked in the current God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla, and I'm happy to say it does with The Last of Us Part 2.

In No Return, you fight through a series of randomized combat scenarios on your way to a showdown with a boss to finish the run. Like many roguelikes, your death is permanent, and any acquired weapons or upgrades are reset. No run will feel the same as the map is randomized each time. You can do different types of runs, but not all are available from the start, as you will need to unlock them by completing challenges. Standard runs are available from your first attempt, but custom and daily runs will be unlocked as you progress.

With custom runs, you can customize the rules and adjust the game modes within No Return, along with enemies, mods, gambits, and dead drops. With Daily Run, you can compete against your friends and others playing the game in a run that is only available that day. You can all try to see who can get the highest score and your rank against all who have tried it.

start screen

When starting a run, you will be asked to choose a difficulty setting which ranges from Very Light to Grounded, with seven difficulty settings altogether, including a custom setting. Each difficulty setting gives you a score. For example, if you played your run on Moderate difficulty, you would have a score multiplier of 1.5, and Grounded gives you 2.5. The score you get each round decides the amount of resources you receive after each location. After each run, you will receive parts, pills, and coins to upgrade your character, purchase weapons, and upgrade those weapons.


You will then be met with the character selection screen, and when you first boot up the game, you will only have access to Ellie and Abby. Once you complete specific challenges, you can unlock the remaining characters: Dina, Jesse, Tommy, Joel, Lev, Yara, Mel, and Manny. Each character has their inventory they start with, a playstyle, and traits, so choose who best suits your play style. After playing as all of the characters, I preferred to use either Lev or Manny. I would say I did like using Joel and Ellie as well, but I'm guessing it had a lot to do with the familiarity of their combat styles from the games. The combat feels exactly like it did in the main game and can be brutal and violent. Manny is extremely powerful, but, as with every character, he does have a weakness, and he is that he doesn't have a health kit recipe, so the only way to get them is by finding them in the level and not crafting them in combat. He starts with two powerful weapons, more health, and more parts. You can even craft ammo with Manny, so not having health kits isn't all that bad. When you complete specific challenges in the game, you can unlock skins for your characters, which are permanently unlocked. Other things like characters, enemies, and mods become permanently unlocked from completing challenges.


Once you select your character, you will be in your hideout, where, after you finish locations, you will be able to purchase upgrades and weapons. You will see a workbench, a planning board, a training post, and a supply cache. The planning board you will use to select your encounter will also show which combat mode that encounter is, enemy factions, score multiplier, mods, and rewards. The mods can be good and bad, so pay close attention to them when you make your section. You will have to decide which path to take to get to the final boss, but you only have a good idea of the one in front of you and not the ones after. I found fighting infected the most challenging, so take that advice in any way you want as you decide your path. The mods help determine your rewards, as the ones that hurt you will let you earn more rewards.


The game opens up as you play more runs and unlock more characters, mods, and combat modes. The combat modes offer you the most variety as they can make things difficult for you, and not all allow you to get used to one mode during your run. I would suggest doing the challenges to unlock these modes first and as quickly as possible because they also offer more rewards depending on which mode you get. The modes are Assault, Hunted, and Capture. Assault has groups of enemies you need to defeat, coming in waves. After each wave, you have some downtime that will allow you to resupply, heal, and craft. In Hunted, you will be met with continuous enemy reinforcements that you must defeat or run away from before the time runs out. I felt this was one of the easier modes as it doesn't last as long as the other, but if you are going up against infected, you can die very quickly as they swarm you. That brings us to my favourite mode, which is Capture. It's my favourite because you can get the most resources for upgrading by completing it. In Capture, the enemies guard a safe filled with supplies you need to open before the timer runs out. You can either kill all the enemies or go in stealth and open it before anyone sees you. You will earn a trophy if you open it without anyone seeing you.

I know I have mentioned Gambits, mods, and dead drops, but I will explain them now. Gambits are separate challenges that appear during your encounter but only once. You will earn extra rewards, like currency, ammo, and health, by completing these. Mods add rules and mechanics that change how you play the encounter. One mod is a photo filter, which will change how your encounter looks while you play to a filter from photo mode. Dead Drops are mailboxes that will be marked on your screen. Listen mode lets you see where they are during your encounter. It will ask for an item to donate. If you have that item to donate, you will earn a special reward in your hideout after the encounter.

During your encounters, you might even get a companion joining you in your fight to make it a bit easier for you, but I found the AI on these may need a little tweaking as they got in the way or did nothing at more times than helping. At least, I found that with some characters, but when you use Lev or Yara, your companion helps a lot more, and you're offered upgrades to make your companion more powerful after each run.

The combat is as brutal as ever when it comes to dying. Be prepared to die, as it happens far too often, but I can assure you that you will learn from your mistakes. The death scene when you die are pretty gory. Some mods show killing in slow-mo, so when you use the shotgun to kill an enemy, they explode. If you have a sensitive stomach, this game isn't for you. The control layout is the same as The Last of Us Part 2, with no major changes.

All weapons from the game are in this mode, and you will get to use them as you fish encounters, like the flamethrower, cross-bow, shotgun, bolt action rifle, and semi-auto rifle, along with two handguns. You can re-roll, but it will cost you more coins if you don't see any weapons you want to purchase at the trading post after an encounter. I would recommend wearing headphones as it not only adds to the immersion but helps know where enemies are when not using the listening function. The dual sense haptics help add to the immersion and are a welcomed function that wasn't in the previous version of The Last of Us Part 2.

Do I think No Return brings something so different that you should buy The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered? No, I don't, but I think this mode offers the game much more fun and replayability. I don't think it's supposed to sell you either way to buy the game, but it is a mode they wanted in the game from the start. It's only a $10 upgrade if you previously purchased the digital version or still have a physical copy of the game, and this mode is well worth the $10 upgrade. Naughty Dog has taken a world they have built, giving you another way to enjoy it. If this is the new trend in addition to first-party PlayStation games and adding modes that make sense, sign me up because I can't wait to see what they will add next. If I had to give No Return a score, I would say it's an 8/10 because it leaves you wanting more and doesn't overstay its welcome. If this is an example of what The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered will be like, we're in for a great remastered game.


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