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The Last of Us Part 1 for PC thoughts: This is embarrassing

We have tried to be patient but given that we are approaching a month since its launch, The Last of Us Part 1 for PC is an unmitigated disaster and had I purchased this game, I’d be livid.

While the reports of crashes and hours-long waits for shaders to build were unnerving I was confident that the port couldn’t be that bad right? I mean, The Last of Us debuted in 2013, how bad could things be especially given how powerful hardware has become.

For context

Review copies of this game were only distributed on the day of release. This is one of many – although not definitive – signs that a game is going to have a rocky launch.

As for my PC, the specs are as follows:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5600XT
  • 512GB NVMe SSD

Not the most modern PC but it gets the job done. Meagre as it is, this setup is above the minimum requirements and just a hair below the recommended. As I’m only playing at 1080p, this didn’t strike me as a problem. Even PlayStation’s website says that these requirements are for the high preset so I had wrongly assumed that at a medium preset things would be fine.

I was incredibly wrong. Even after the latest patch, The Last of Us Part 1 for PC is straining my PC.

100 percent CPU usage is not right.

Loading shaders took roughly two hours the first time and when it finally finished the game still constantly stopped me with a “Please Wait” screen that pauses progress. After the third screen in the prologue, I hit Alt + F4.

I resolved to wait for a patch and while a few came, those minuscule patch notes didn’t mention much about performance. I jumped back in now and then to check the waters but I could never play without hitting a “Please Wait” screen for more than 10 minutes.

After downloading the latest patch I noted that there were no shaders to be built. Feeling inspired by this victory I loaded the game. Uh oh, there’s a loading ring. I’m sure it’s just loading a few files, still surprising given this is running on an NVMe SSD but oh well.

After waiting 20 minutes, the ring filled and I was back in the game. No sooner had Tess flicked on the lights in the secret passage than that familiar message appeared in the bottom left corner.

“Building Shaders”

I hit Alt+F4.

Enough of this

The game is incredibly poorly optimised. Yes, my PC is old but I am able to run God of War, Cyperpunk 2077, Elden Ring and more at Medium to High presets at 1080p. The fact that The Last of Us Part 1 isn’t able to even let me enjoy 10 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay at low settings tells me there is something very wrong with this port.

At the low preset at a render resolution of 960×544, the title reports that it is using 5997MB of VRAM which is just jaw-dropping. The results from this preset are truly ghastly to look at and you’d do better watching a playthrough on YouTube at 720p than torturing yourself here.

Even those running NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPUs are only getting double-digit frame rates which is far below what one would expect.

The worst part about this game though is that it has to build shaders seemingly after every patch. This process demands that the game be open on your PC which means you can’t play other Steam games and even if you could your PC is already running one game, dare you task it with running another? We don’t and we have given up on loading these shaders more often than we care to count.

This is especially egregious in South Africa where loadshedding eats into any gaming time one has. Met with the choice of playing literally anything else or watching shaders build we’d literally play Fallout 76 in its launch state instead.

Naughty Dog may have garnered a reputation for building spectacular games but The Last of Us Part 1 for PC is an abject failure and the developer should hang its head in shame at this release. Performance is all over the place, even once shaders have loaded the game looks like it was released in the early 90s and constant stoppages just ruin any momentum this wonderful story has.

We have no doubt that the game will be fixed and optimised through several patches, especially given the PC community’s fervour when it comes to customisation, and mods. However, right now, if you were to plonk down R899 for this title, you’re going to be upset and it’s going to taint any good feelings Pedro Pascal gave you.

If you want to know the real tragedy here, in the six hours I’ve spent in the game, cumulatively, I have only just gone to the other side of the wall after the prologue. Essentially I have spent more time waiting for the game to load shaders than I’ve spent getting to grips with this world.

For shame Naughty Dog, for shame.

This has become an unfortunate trend in the gaming industry where an inferior product is launched at the behest of investors and men in suits. While patching can be used to fix bugs that appear in the wild, a game should at least be playable but PlayStation doesn’t seem to think that’s important.

We say PlayStation because this is the latest exclusive that has been released on PC that has been marred by a half-baked port. The first of these was Horizon Zero Dawn but to its credit, Guerilla Games fixed the game very quickly. Uncharted also experienced hitches, as did Returnal, hell, even God of War 2018 needed a few patches before it was running as intended on most machines.

This tells us two things. The first is that porting games from PlayStation to PC is tough, the second is that Sony and its developers need to be more thorough before launching a game.

The Last of Us Part 1 for PC needed at least three more months in the oven and perhaps a bit more for good measure. The worst part is it shows that no matter how many patches are issued, Naughty Dog’s reputation has been burned by this release. This launch will be remembered in the worst way.

Don’t buy this game, you’ll only be causing yourself frustration and it’s time we let publishers know, releasing a game in this state is unacceptable.

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