‘Last of Us 2’ Update Delivers “Grounded” Difficulty and “Permadeath” Mode

     August 11, 2020


In 2013, The Last of Us challenged players to survive a post-apocalypse where the very air could kill you if you let it. (LOL fiction can be fun!) That challenge got amped up a notch about a year later when Naughty Dog added the newly minted “Grounded” difficulty to the game. Supplies were scant, “Listen Mode” was disabled as was the HUD, enemies tripled their damage dealt and had boosted A.I. smarts, and your character’s health was nearly impossible to gauge. This difficulty setting also introduced “Permadeath” runs, meaning you get one life to live, so you’d best live it to the fullest. Sony and Naughty Dog (and the fans) loved this hardcore difficulty so much that, of course, they are bringing it to this year’s release The Last of Us: Part II, perhaps earlier than expected!

In a new blog post over at PlayStation, Matthew Gallant, the Lead Systems Designer of Naughty Dog, shared news on the latest update coming to The Last of Us: Part II. The best part? Before we even get into the new content coming in the update, the release date of August 13th has been confirmed! Here’s what’s coming: “New features, gameplay modes, Trophies, and more, including the much-requested return of Grounded difficulty.” Let’s get into it!

Grounded Difficulty & Permadeath Mode


Image via Naughty Dog, Sony

  • “Grounded” difficulty will be one of the base difficulty options available at the start, meaning you don’t need to beat the game first to unlock it
  • Deadlier enemies
  • Ammo, Upgrade & Crafting Materials “incredibly scarce”
  • Listen Mode disabled
  • HUD elements deactivated
  • Other survival tools removed (TBD)
  • Permadeath mode = no second chances; complete the entire game without dying or start over
  • Permadeath mode comes with some options, however, like enabling it via checkpoints on a per-chapter or per-act basis: “In other words, if you die at the end of Day One, you’ll have to play the entire day over again.”

But why go through all this pain? “Grounded” update also introduces two new Trophies to reward you:

  • Complete the game with any Permadeath mode enabled
  • Complete the game on Grounded difficulty
  • Neither is required for the existing Platinum trophy

What Else Is New?


Image via Naughty Dog, Sony

Almost 30 new graphics-rendering modes and several new audio modifiers are coming to the game to let you fine-tune your experience. Cel-shading, 8-bit, black-and-white noir thriller, and sepia-toned options, to name a few that were announced; Ghost of Tsushima envy, anyone? Additionally, Naughty Dog’s new update unlocks new gameplay modifiers to further change up your gameplay, all of which can be accessed in the Extras menus after completing the game. Modifiers include:

  • 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

Image via Naughty Dog, Sony

Other new options include disabling Listen Mode, tweaking the Film Grain, and even a speedrunning assist that allows gamers to see playtime measured in second intervals during saves. Here are some of the other options arriving this week:

  • 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

Are you ready?

Of note: The new difficulty modes — and everything else — will be available via patch 1.05. In-game pre-order bonuses and some options and gameplay modifiers will be disabled during Grounded difficulty gameplay, and some options and gameplay modifiers will be disabled during Permadeath mode.

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