Last of Us 2 dev reveals secret changes planned for new ‘Grounded’ mode

Last of Us Part II Ellie gameplayNaughty Dog

The upcoming The Last of Us Part II Grounded difficulty mode is set to challenge players in all-new ways as the game’s co-director has revealed secret details on what fans can expect.

One of the best selling games of 2020 and Naughty Dog’s swan song for the PlayStation 4, The Last of Us Part II is set to receive an all-new update this week. The 1.05 patch coming on Thursday, August 13, 2020, will be ramping up the difficulty in a few key ways.

A permadeath option is coming alongside a slew of gameplay and audiovisual modifiers. From a slow-mo filter to mods for infinite ammo and more. There are plenty of unique tools coming to add replayability to the single-player experience.

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Chief among the new additions, however, is the return of Grounded mode. The original version of this extreme difficulty mode gave Last of Us players the ultimate challenge. Scarce resources and a limited HUD is only the starting point. Here’s how Naughty Dog is looking to push things even further this time around.

In Naughty Dog’s recent blog post, the developers outlined a few ways in which the new difficulty option will change the core gameplay experience. “Invaluable tools for survival, such as Listen mode [and] elements of the HUD,” will be unavailable here, they explained. But beyond these differences, Co-Director Anthony Newman shared the more subtle factors that players will notice in Grounded.

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“It’s more than just a difficulty mode,” he followed up. “There are so many little tweaks and adjustments that make it a really unique experience.” If you’re truly looking for the most realistic and dangerous playthrough possible, here’s how Naughty Dog is pulling it off.

In the standard modes, when an enemy begins to detect your presence, a subtle audio cue rings out. A slight chime will come through and you’ll know to change location and avoid being detected. In the Grounded mode, however, this doesn’t exist. Instead, “you have to listen even more closely to your enemies to understand their mental state.”

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Additionally, trying to be sneaky can be harder than ever as well. Even if you’re able to find a stealth kill in the bushes, for instance, “enemies are much more perceptive” on this difficulty. They “can even notice a stealth kill if you do it too close to someone else.”

Last of Us Part II gameplayNaughty Dog
Even if you’re trying to be sneaky, enemies might still detect you on the Grounded difficulty.

Hitmarkers are also done away with when playing on the new difficulty. This means you’ll have to pay close attention to find out if your shots even land. On top of this, “no mid-combat checkpoints” so you’ll need to get through each encounter in one go.

Grounded has been hyped up as the “ultimate test of skill.” These subtle gameplay tweaks certainly lend to that label and then some. Grounded mode will be available in the August 13 update. Combine this with the permadeath option and you might just have the most difficult gaming challenge of the generation on your hands.

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