990 The Last Of Us Optimizations

The Last of Us: Remastered is one of the best examples of game optimization geared toward player experience that I’ve ever seen.

The loading times are incredibly well managed. One loading screen, about a minute long, when the game loads, is the only time the player experiences the concept of “loading.” And even then, it’s done with a beautiful visual and haunting sound that doesn’t even feel like “loading” as much as it feels like a foreboding yet serene preamble moment for the player to prepare themselves during.

The checkpoint system in the game (and really the entire “structure” of the game) is set up in such a way that if the player dies, they are taken back to the most recent checkpoint, which is rarely more than a few minutes ago, and almost never in a separate area from where the death occurred. This (probably?) lets the game set up an efficient loading system where, at least on my PS4 Pro, there is almost no perceptible “loading” moment, outside of a black screen and a beat to punctuate the feeling of a reset.

Without knowing anything about the game’s actual system, I assume it uses scripted moments, cut scenes, and small corridor areas between larger areas, to efficiently load the game in the background while the player is experiencing the game. These are done so swiftly that I can only assume this is where they are happening, although there’s no indication to the player that that’s the case. It’s not like the Tomb Raider mechanic (later adopted in dozens of games), where the player is forced into some tiny crawl space with limited control, for an unrealistically extended amount of time, for the game to mask unloading the previous area and loading the next one. (I should say though that this is massively preferred over showing actual loading screens.)

[ Today I Was Playing: Steamworld Dig 2 ]

September 17, 2017

#game-mechanic-system, #game-review-critique