Difficulty selection menu in The Last of Us for a new game with Normal selected.

The diverse difficulty levels for The Last of Us, its remastered edition and the DLC Left Behind and The Last of Us Part II change how hard it is to complete mission objectives and to progress through the game, requiring different tactics and changing the way one plays.

The difficulty also changes how many supplies are found. The higher the difficulty, the fewer healing items, ammunition, crafting supplies, and melee weapons will appear. Also, the enemies become tougher to kill, requiring more gunshots to both infected and non-infected hostiles. However, supplements, parts, and collectibles are unaffected by the change of difficulty and head shots remain a one-hit kill without armor.

The Last of Us

There are five difficulty levels in The Last Of Us. To unlock the Survivor difficulty, one must beat the game once on any difficulty. Grounded must be bought as a DLC on PlayStation 3 but is already unlocked in The Last of Us Remastered on PlayStation 4.

  • Easy: For beginners. Lot of ammunition, crafting supplies, melee weapons, and healing items are spawned in the world. Also, the enemies are quite easy to kill.
  • Normal: For casual players. Supplies spawn at a normal rate. Enemies are moderately strong. Sharp melee weapons spawn late in the game.
  • Hard: For experienced players. Supplies are rare to come by, and non-infected enemies are more aggressive and use cover often. Powerful melee weapons, such as the Machete and Hatchet, are almost never seen.
  • Survivor: For players that want a considerable challenge. Supplies are extremely rare to find. Game hints, prompts, and Listen Mode are disabled. All enemies do double damage. Powerful melee weapons appear rarely. Plus, all pickup-able items no longer flash to indicate themselves to the player.[1]
  • Grounded: For the toughest of the hardcore. Supplies are next to non-existent. Listen Mode is disabled. All enemies do triple damage. The HUD is disabled. On the remastered edition, the controller's light-bar no longer changes color to indicate Joel's health. Enemy AI is extremely sharp; more so than survivor. Multiple mid-combat and mid-stealth checkpoints have been removed. Allies do not grant the player ammunition or health kits, except David. The revolver, however, does instantly kill non-infected enemies without armor, something which it does not do in easy. Pickup-able items do not flash to the player either.

New Game Plus

Once the game is completed on any difficulty, the player may start the story again by selecting the unlocked "Continue New Game Plus" option to keep all upgrades and skills they had acquired prior.

However, the player's backpack will be empty (apart from the automatically given Military Pamphlet and Boston QZ Map, plus any Training Manuals acquired previously), and they will need to collect all of the collectibles and weapons again. When acquired, weapons will however retain any upgrades from previous playthroughs.

The difficulty selection for New Game Plus is limited to the highest difficulty the player finished their previous New Game save on or lower.

The Last of Us Part II

In The Last of Us Part II, there are six different challenge levels which adjust the overall difficulty of the game: Very Light, Light, Moderate, Hard, Survivor, and Custom. Unlike in the first game, all difficulties are initially unlocked and there are no Trophies based on difficulty. Additionally, Part II, introduces the ability for the player to customize the games difficulty with the Custom option which offers a much higher granularity of control over the games difficulty.[2] As with the first games, the player unlocks New Game Plus once they have completed the game on any difficulty.

Custom Difficulty

As part of the accessibility options of The Last of Us Part II, the player can customize specific aspects of difficulty to their needs or desired experience. Players can individually tweak difficulty settings related to incoming damage, enemy and ally effectiveness, stealth and resources. Each of the settings come with the options of Very Light, Light, Moderate, Hard, and Survivor.[2]

  • PLAYER: Adjusts difficulty settings related to:
    • Amount of damage the player takes from enemies
    • Frequency of mid-encounter dynamic checkpoints
  • ENEMIES: Adjusts difficulty settings related to:
    • Accuracy of enemy gunfire and frequency of projectiles
    • Aggression of enemies advancing and flanking
    • Complexity of enemy melee combos
    • Movement speed of certain high-threat enemies
    • Custom tuning to specific combat encounters
  • ALLIES: Adjusts difficulty settings related to:
    • Aggressiveness of allies in combat
    • Frequency at which allies kill enemies
  • STEALTH: Adjusts difficulty settings related to:
    • Enemy's perception through vision, hearing, and smell
    • Length of grace period before enemies will alert others
    • Conditions for grabbing enemies from stealth
  • RESOURCES: Adjusts difficulty settings related to:
    • Quantity of ammunition and supplies found in the world
    • Durability of melee weapons dropped by enemies
    • Yield of certain crafting recipes

New Game Plus

New Game Plus also returns in the sequel. This allows the player to play through the game again with all of the previous upgrades they unlocked in the first runthrough, including skill tree progress, crafting recipes, weapons and modifications, and collectibles. The only caveat is that while skill tree upgrades and crafting recipes will be available from the beginning, the players existing weapon arsenal will only unlock once Ellie has arrived in Seattle. Further the difficulties increase in toughness, essentially making (for example) Survivor+ more difficult to complete that the traditional Survivor difficulty.


  • While difficulty selection is limited on New Game Plus, it is possible to play The Last of Us on any difficulty by utilizing a glitch.[3]


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