'The Last of Us Part II' gets ultra-difficult Grounded and permadeath modes

If the game wasn't hard enough already, Naughty Dog has you covered.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

When Naughty Dog released The Last of Us Part II in June, it arrived without the extremely challenging “Grounded” mode they added to the original game. But the developer did indicate it would be added eventually, though we didn’t know when. Well, it’s arriving on August 13th via a free software update that adds both Grounded mode and a new “permadeath” option.

As with the original game, Grounded mode tries to make the game’s intense violence even more realistic. Enemies are smarter, more aggressive and more lethal. There’s no life gauge, and taking just a few bullets is enough to end your run. On the flip side, enemies are also more vulnerable to well-placed shots. You also can’t see how much ammo your guns are holding unless you’re in the process of reloading or switching weapons. Finally, resources are even more scarce, so you’ll need to be even more conservative in how you approach battles and use stealth as much as possible.

As for permadeath, it’s just what it sounds like. At its most aggressive, a single death ends your entire game. The truly insane can combine this with Grounded mode and see how far they can make it, but there are also more forgiving options. Permadeath can be set to “one day,” which means a death sends you back to the beginning of the day your character was playing through. Getting through an entire day without dying is still pretty challenging, so there’s also a “per chapter” permadeath. Given each day has about a half-dozen chapters, that should be a bit more manageable.

Given the challenge of these modes, Naughty Dog is adding two new trophies to the game: one for beating it with any permadeath mode enabled, and one for beating it on Grounded difficulty. But if you want to get a platinum trophy for the game, fear not — these new trophies are a separate challenge.

Naughty Dog also made some changes for those not obsessed with challenge, as well. In keeping with the game’s huge variety of accessibility options, new bonus modes let you play the game with unlimited ammo and / or unlimited craftable supplies. Naughty Dog likens them to cheat codes, but really it’s just another way to make the game more playable for a wider audience. It’ll also be a good time for anyone who has wanted to go in guns blazing, supplies be damned — maybe they should have called it “Uncharted mode.”

The list of modifiers Naughty Dog added is extensive and includes far more than just unlimited supplies, though. There are slow-motion and bullet-speed modifiers, various audio filters, an option to disable listen mode entirely (or set to to infinite distance) and a “mirror world” feature that we can only assume turns everything in the game backwards.

TLOU2 update
Naughty Dog

In a more frivolous change, there are “nearly 30” new graphics rendering modes, which change the way the game looks. Above is a shot of how it looks in 8-bit mode, though most of the other new modes are less dramatic. You can even change the sound to 8-bit or 4-bit audio, which should be a real trip. All in all, it’s quite the extensive update that should breathe new life into the game for those who’ve already finished it a few times.