Naughty Dog is smart to release The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4 and not wait for the PS5

Ellie using a bow
Ellie using a bow (Image credit: Sony)

Like its predecessor, The Last of Us Part II is squeezing in at the end of a console generation, right before next-gen systems are set to release next year. When it was announced, a lot of people speculated — or least hoped — that The Last of Us Part II would be a launch title on the PlayStation 5. While there's certainly a possibility it could release on that system as well, even though all PS4 games are set to be backward compatible, it wasn't specifically designed for the PlayStation 5. It's still limited by PS4 hardware, and this is honestly a good thing right now.

It can optimize The Last of Us Part II to its fullest potential.

Naughty Dog has surely had a PS5 devkit on hand for some time now considering it's a first-party Sony studio, and one that many believe to be the golden child. But that doesn't mean that the studio will have unlocked the console's full potential right out of the gate. It's been developing for PS4 for several years now and knows the ins and outs of the system. It can optimize The Last of Us Part II to its fullest potential in this case. When it comes to PS5, there will be early growing pains as with any next-gen console.

When the Xbox One launched, 10% of its GPU power was dedicated to running the Kinect and other apps. Only after almost a year on the market did Microsoft unlock this power for developers to use when creating games. We don't know how Sony is going to allocate GPU power in the PS5. Who's to say a similar situation couldn't have arisen?

Worse would have been if Sony chose radically different GPU and CPU technology that made it difficult to developer for, as was the case with the PS3, but thankfully we know the PS5 architecture will be similar to the PS4. Similar doesn't automatically mean easy, however. A lot of variables can hamper development, even on a system that a studio knows like the back of its hand.

The PS4 has shipped over 100 million units worldwide.

I'm not as concerned with graphics as most people are, so the limitations of the PS4 and PS4 Pro in that regard don't bother me. There's practically no discernable difference between 4K (PS4 Pro) and 8K (PS5) to the human eye in most environments. What I find interesting is how Naughty Dog can push the technology to its limits with gameplay. AI are smarter than ever — more human, in a sense. They now have names, heartbeats, and can cry out when a friend of theirs is killed by your hand. This has an immediate and effective impact on how you experience the game and interact with the world.

None of this is even to mention the PS4 install base. The system has shipped over 100 million units worldwide as of July 2019. That's not an install base that you can pass up and ignore. You'd be crazy to.

So could Naughty Dog have waited to launch The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 5? Absolutely. Would it have been the smartest decision? Probably not. It's a beloved series and people want to see the direction it goes in. They can't do that when they're locked out of content unless they buy a whole new gaming console.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.