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Review: The Last of Us: Part 1 in ultrawide on PC [Update]

This review is spoiler-free. Even though the original game came out in 2013, there is no doubt that there are folks who have yet to experience the game, or see the recent HBO TV series. The story follows Joel and Ellie as they embark on an emotional journey through a virus-ridden world where survivors have joined factions, and fight each other to live, whilst dead-zones are occupied by the infected. Think the best bits of 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead.

I will focus largely on what the series' first entry onto the PC platform has been like, and the chaos that unpacked on launch day with the PC community. At the time of writing, I have completed both the main story (15 hours), and the 'Left Behind' DLC (2 hours). I have also kept the RTSS overlay in some screenshots, so readers can get a better idea of system resource usage throughout the game.

No review copies seems to have been sent out to any outlet before launch, so this is my own personal copy. It is not clear why this has been the case, but we can only speculate from details later in the review.

The system I played on has the following specs:

  • CPU: Core i7 -12700KF

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X

  • RAM: 64GB DDR4-3600

  • GPU: RTX 3080 Ti FE @ 90% power limit

  • Display: 34" ultrawide QD-OLED (3440x1440, 144Hz, G-Sync Ultimate)

  • SSD: 2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G

  • Input: Xbox wireless controller + Logitech MX Master 3 mouse

  • OS: Windows 11 Pro (build 22H2)

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

My first experience with The Last of Us was back in 2013, buying a PS3 just to play it. Joel and Ellie's epic emotional journey was something I wasn't quite ready for. For years to come I'd always remember this game, and how no other game could quite top it in my books. How Naughty Dog managed to squeeze so much graphical effects out of the PS3 is still a wonder, okay it doesn't quite match up to the graphics we have today, but in 2013 it was way ahead of its time for a console game.

Ever since then, I longed for the day I could play it on PC. I skipped the remaster on PS4, I skipped the remake on PS5, I knew ultrawide and higher resolutions/framerates were how I wanted to re-experience this game one day in the future. Ten years later, here we are.

The game is priced at £49.99 / $59.99 and is available on both Steam and Epic Games Store.

System requirements

The Last of Us Part 1

These are quite heavy requirements which raised a few eyebrows when Naughty Dog posted them. Not long before the launch date, they updated the requirements image to include the Iron Galaxy logo at the bottom as a co-developer. At this point even more eyebrows were raised, and the system requirements made more sense due to the poor performance of previous games ported to PC by Iron Galaxy, such as Akham Knight and UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection on PC had to undergo many patches before it reached a widely playable state, yet even to this day has a couple of issues remaining, such as texture pop-in and mouse camera panning judder. At this point, it's worth mentioning that The Last of Us for PC started development in-house at Naughty Dog, but at a some stage received assistance from Iron Galaxy. The fact that Naughty Dog added the Iron Galaxy logo so close to launch, and after many people had already pre-ordered the game, aroused suspicion. We may never know the true answer to this, but we can speculate given the evidence at hand.

First impressions

Upon booting up the game for the first time, shader compilation is initiated. This is generally great to see, because too many games have released without it, which resulted in stuttering throughout gameplay. However, what was not that great is that compilation took 23 minutes, and my experience was better than what others were seeing, some in upwards or 2 hours for the process. More on this in the performance section of the review.

I then went into the display and graphics settings, where there were a plethora of options to toggle and tweak, below is a look at what is available in-game, this is via Nvidia's GeForce Experience app, which shows the most optimal settings for your hardware. Interesting to note that the game defaulted the texture options to the High setting, yet GeForce Experience shows that Ultra is the most optimal setting for my hardware.

The Last of Us Part 1 - GFE

What's also nice to see is that we are given an indicator of VRAM usage for each setting, along with data on what area of the system is impacted the most for each setting. Some time and effort has been put into these setting screens for PC, which is not something you often see with PC releases these days.

The Last of Us Part 1 - Video Settings

With all the settings cranked up to Ultra, turning off motion blur, chromatic aberration, lowering depth of field, I started the game and saw a beautifully crafted world full of little details that few games can match. The water reflections, global illumination, lighting, and ambient occlusion especially are key highlights here. What is clear is that we don't need ray tracing to get this level of visual polish in a game world full of light-reactive surfaces and volumetric effects that combine to create an atmospheric ambiance and clarity. Very few games can manage this, even with ray tracing.

The black levels in this, for example, feel naturally excellent, unlike the faded blacks in games like Cyberpunk 2077 which require community mods to tone down, but still not get quite right. On an OLED monitor, perfect black levels in a game are very important, as anything less just doesn't feel accurate.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

I also noticed some additional features, such as reactive RGB control, so if you have an RGB keyboard, then the colours of the lighting will change depending on damage taken. Really a unique way to be further immersed into the game.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

HDR is also supported, but unlike Capcom's Resident Evil remakes on PC, the Windows HDR mode is not auto enabled if HDR is toggled in the game. It must first be enabled in Windows, then the game will see HDR available under the Brightness settings screen, which then offers some additional HDR focused controls: Some clarity would have been helpful here, as HDR control is not visible until you go into the Brightness settings screen under Display, whereas other games have HDR logically placed under the root of Display settings.

The Last of Us HDR 2

Once enabled, HDR is a truly excellent experience in The Last of Us Part 1. I did not have to adjust anything beyond the defaults, although I had already completed HDR calibration using the Windows HDR Calibration Tool.

The Last of us on OLED HDR

At 1000 nits, the luminance balance between dark and light scenes, for example, the basement dwelling shown above, are quite breathtaking. Just make sure your display is set up and calibrated correctly to get the best out of HDR. This pre-requisite applies to all supported games in general, though.


The two things I immediately noticed were that shader compilation takes ages, far longer than any game I have played to date. I timed 23 minutes on my CPU, and I say CPU because it seems only the CPU is being hammered during compilation, it sat at 100% for all cores for the whole time. Others online were seeing much longer times ranging up to 2 hours (or more) on different systems.

The second thing is that the game saves take a long time to load. Before a hotfix patch, it was taking 56 seconds to jump back into a save slot. After the patch, this dropped to 43 seconds. In both instances, there is very little SSD activity, as I observed less than 87MB/s read speeds during loading, which is crazy considering the system requirements recommends a standard SSD which is typically capable of 550MB/s read and write.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

I opted to stick to "DLSS Performance" mode throughout the second half of the game, whereas I was playing at native 3440x1440 for the first half whilst Naughty Dog sorted out the initial hotfix patches to fix stability when upscaling techniques like DLSS was used.

At native resolution, I had to use High for the four texture quality settings, otherwise the game would run into VRAM issues. With DLSS set to Performance, I was able to set them back to Ultra, and the VRAM issue would not be seen due to the lower internal resolution which is then AI reconstructed to the 3440x1440 output resolution. I was getting an average of 60fps at native resolution, whereas with DLSS it was anywhere from 75fps to 120fps depending on the scene.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

The above screenshot shows one of the framerate variances I also noticed during gameplay. This is an area that has very little in the way of dynamic effects happening, yet the framerate drops from just over 100 fps to 87 whilst looking at this corner of the dark room.

This is a trend that continues throughout the game, and whilst for me it was not too concerning as the dipped framerate was still high anyway, others that were unable to run a decent baseline framerate, or don't have a Variable Refresh Rate-enabled (VRR) display, were having a worse experience. Naughty Dog does not list this specifically on their known issues list, but hopefully this is resolved in an upcoming patch as part of the wider fixes being looked into. I recommend gamers submit this as an issue via Naughty Dog's form. The more reports they get, the more importance they should hopefully apply to it.

I did start a New Game+ run using DLSS Quality, too, and observed the following statistics using RTSS:

Average framerate 109.4 FPS
Minimum framerate 82.1 FPS
Maximum framerate 143.7 FPS
1% low framerate 71.7 FPS
0.1% low framerate 52.2 FPS

This was of course a lengthy run containing explosions, dense foliage from the Ultra settings, volumetric effects from the spore room, light rays casting bounces and global illumination, so a good range of impacting effects on the GPU, CPU and VRAM. The VRAM usage during this benchmark was sat at 10GB total system (9.6GB of which was just the game alone). Even still, I had a random crash to desktop.

I also started DLSS Balanced to test some other things out. I experienced a crash to desktop within 10 minutes and gave up proceeding any further with that plan. Checking on forums, I saw others seeing crashes too, even though their VRAM utilisation was well below the amount of VRAM they had. Setting DLSS back to Performance, however, resolved the issue once again, at least for me.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

Whilst we are on the subject of technical issues, there is also mouse camera panning judder. This is not the same as frametime/framerate stuttering, as I experienced neither of those. Mouse camera panning judder gives the impression of display stuttering as you move the camera at any speed.

This phenomenon is not obvious at all times, but mostly noticed in areas of vertical architecture or static props sticking out all around you. This issue does not exist when panning the camera using a controller, which I was able to verify playing portions of the game using a wireless Xbox controller.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

No amount of changing settings in Vsync, G-Sync, framerate caps and the like were able to reduce the mouse camera judder. This is also the same judder experienced on Uncharted, which to this day remains unresolved.

Naughty Dog have made a statement on their Twitter account saying a patch is due on Tuesday that fixes the mouse camera judder, though it remains to be seen if this will resolve the issue for everyone, since patches 1 and 2 were supposed to fix crashing, yet we still see the issue.


Technical issues aside, what I am happy to report is that the gameplay, mechanics and overall gaming experience is excellent and exactly how I remembered it being back in 2013. As the second patch resolved the crashing issues for my system, I was able to then properly put time into finishing the rest of the game and enjoy it for what it is.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

The combat works really well with a mouse and keyboard, aiming is more precise with all ranged weapons, and I found myself doing twitch shots much easier than with the controller using an analogue stick.

The enemy AI is also quite challenging at times. NPCs will dodge out of the way of your arrows if they see you aiming at them, they will use strategy to draw you out by flanking you from all directions if there is a crew after you, and ammo is littered around sparingly. Every shot has to count whilst praying that a headshot downs someone first time round, and they drop the correct ammo for you to reload with. There is quick weapon swapping via hotkey, but this is still deliberately slower than the insta-swItch found on other games, so doing this whilst running from an enemy could mean the difference between life and death if you run into an obstacle ahead, as you will not have drawn the new weapon in time before they attack you. This was fine with me, as it added an adrenaline rush to the combat.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

Plenty of times I was having a tense moment with ammo anxiety as a pair of Clickers (virus mutated enemies) marched towards me, or I am being fired upon by NPCs from multiple heights in a building. I ended up enjoying this experience more on PC than I did on console thanks to the higher performance and wider field of view. Even though I never played the remaster on PS4, but I did see it in person, briefly, being able to play on ultrawide OLED, with framerates well above 60fps, and the graphical quality that only the PC can offer, it really was a surprisingly cinematic experience.

It saddens me that many PC gamers who have never played the game before, pre-ordered this and are unable to have a similar experience due to the technical issues still being seen, even after hot fixes.

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

Final thoughts

I finished the game with a neutral mind but cannot help but feeling it could have been a much more positive one. Steam says I have over 25 hours in the game, yet the game says I finished the story in 15 hours.

Those additional 10 hours were mostly spent troubleshooting trying to get to the bottom of the random crash to desktop issues I was facing, and seeing if the mouse camera judder could be worked around. It also took a few hours to determine that using DLSS/FSR was the cause for the crashing on my system before the second patch released. As such, I had to play the first half of the game without DLSS, which meant a framerate ranging from 40-65 on average. Not how I envisioned jumping back into the story after 10 years!

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

This leads me onto the state of new releases on PC now. We live in a time where it has seemingly become apparent that developers are using us PC gamers as testers to find and report all the bugs at launch, and then provide day/week 1 patches to hopefully resolve them. Some games take weeks/months/a year+ to get to a playable state (Cyberpunk 2077, Witcher 3 Next gen, Sackboy, Resident Evil 2 remake, Uncharted to name a few).

A triple-A developer such as Naughty Dog should know better than to sign off on a release that was clearly in a poor state of optimisation, even if the game itself is completely excellent. Technical issues on a PC release do nothing good for anybody, and the first impression sticks with the game forever after, often becoming online memes.

Under all the technical issues lies a fantastic game just waiting to be played by newcomers, and rediscovered by those, like me, who have been waiting so long for a superior version of the game on the only platform capable of delivering such an experience.

If you really want to play the game now on PC, personally, I would recommend picking it up from official storefronts like Steam or Epic Games Store first, where at least you have refund windows should you have unbearable issues. It seems Valve is even accepting refund requests that exceed their usual 2-hour playtime window. You can then get it later, hopefully cheaper, once the issues are resolved. With these problems ongoing, I don't think the asking price is acceptable. If gamers are to find bugs for developers in this way, and then file tickets, then the game should be significantly cheaper.

I was going to give this launch a 6/10 score, but as I was reflecting on this review and talking about it on forums, I recall Naughty Dog actually delaying the original launch date of March 3rd , because the studio wanted to make sure the game was "in the best shape possible".

The Last of Us Part 1 - PC Screenshots

If these technical issues were only trivial, such as texture pop-in, or shadows being weird in some areas, then my score would be much higher, an easy 8, 9 or maybe even a 10 out of 10, as they are not game breaking bugs and could be easily missed by any developer. But what we are seeing are a slew of issues that never should have left quality control.

I will update this review once the next patch drops with details on what has or has not been fixed. Stay tuned!

Update - 2023.04.07
Naughty Dog has released a new patch which addresses many of the technical issues mentioned in this review, and by gamers around the internet. The patch notes can be viewed here. The size of the patch on Steam is 14.2GB. In conjunction with the hotfix Nvidia driver 531.58 beta, I no longer experience random crashes. I also noticed that shader compilation times have been reduced, and saved game loading times decrease.

I did, however, notice some performance degrade, average framerates have dropped slightly, but they are still around 100fps average when using DLSS Quality with Ultra settings, so in the grand scheme of tings, it doesn't really matter.

The mouse camera panning judder remains unresolved. Naughty Dog made a recent statement on Twitter saying that this particular fix is destined for a future patch. This is a shame to hear because the same was said for the same issue in Uncharted, and that game still has the issue to this day.

The Last of Us Part 1 (PC)
+ Beautifully crafted world + Graphics & excellent DLSS implementation + PlayStation DualSense support + Superb positional audio quality + Perfectly colour graded art style
- Mouse camera panning judder - Regular crashes for many - Regular framerate dips for no reason - Loading takes ages - Shader compilation takes ages - SSD optimisation non-existent
£49.99 / $59.99
28th March 2023


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