Published on December 7th, 2023 | by Adrian Gunning

The Last of Us Part II Remastered: Exploring the rogue-like survival mode, No Return

The Last of Us Part II Remastered arrives for the PlayStation 5 console on January 19, 2024. With it comes a slew of new behind-the-scenes content, technical enhancements to leverage the PS5 hardware, and new modes to ensure that whether players are experiencing the award-winning sequel’s story for the first or fifth time, there’s something new to discover.

Pre-orders for the standard version of the game, physically and digitally, are available now. To mark the occasion, PlayStation is excited to highlight one of the most expansive new additions: No Return, a single-player rogue-like survival mode. Before we jump in, check out our trailer for the mode here.

No Return is a new foray for the world of The Last of Us, built to spotlight Part II’s nuanced and engrossing gameplay in a unique way. Let’s dive a bit deeper into what you can expect from the mode.

What Is No Return?

No Return allows players to choose their own path and test their skills across runs of randomised encounters, throwing you into familiar spaces from The Last of Us Part II’s campaign, like Jackson, the Channel 13 News Station, and many more. These scenarios will be unfamiliar and even unexpected, though, with unique gameplay twists. But be warned: death is permanent in No Return, so if you fail a run midway, you’ll lose all weapons, items, and upgrades accumulated for that run and begin again with a fresh set of randomised scenarios. How players progress during any given run isn’t pre-defined – throughout a run, players will have to choose between different encounters, which will determine not only the type of gameplay mode you tackle, but also what rewards you may unlock, what potential modifiers you’ll encounter, and more. And in between each combat scenario, you’ll return to a Hideout, where you can prep and choose your next fight via a path laid out on a corkboard in these familiar locations.

Should a player make it all the way to the end of a run, they’ll come up against one of six successively unlocked boss encounters (and after you’ve conquered them all, they will randomly cap off future runs) against some of Part II’s most memorable foes, but not necessarily in the ways the player first fought them. Runs, whether they end in a victory or at the hands of a Clicker or Hunter midway through an encounter, culminate in a score and players will receive a rank based on their performance.

That next run will be unique from the one before it, offering a fresh set of encounters each playthrough. No Return’s challenges fall into four different types – Assault, which pits you against waves of enemies; Capture, in which players have to break into a safe full of valuable supplies enemies are guarding; Holdout, during which players and an AI-controlled buddy defend against swarming Infectect; and Hunted, in which players need to survive until the timer runs out against continuous enemy reinforcements.

Each type can take place in a variety of locations, and to continue ensuring each run feels fresh and distinct from what’s come before, Mods will randomly be applied to encounters. Choosing to take on modded challenges affects the rewards players will receive. We don’t want to spoil the full list, but these will test your skills in some fun and surprising ways, including mods like enemies dropping pipe bombs upon death, a thick fog enveloping the encounter map, and more. We’re excited for fans to experience the full suite of Mods in-game, as they offer some truly exciting twists to any given encounter.

Gambits are optional dynamic challenges that can further spice up any given round. From needing to land a number of headshots to dodging melee attacks, Gambits can both help players solidify a plan going into a challenge or offer up an opportunity to expand a player’s strategy while working toward additional resources for that run.

Speaking of resources, as players of The Last of Us Part II will already be familiar with, the campaign features a number of upgradeable weapons for Ellie and Abby’s arsenal, as well as skill upgrade trees. These ideas carry over to No Return, but upgrades reset after each run, so players will have to make difficult choices as players progress about which weapon upgrades to spend acquired resources on or what skills players think might offer the best edge in upcoming encounters. Which weapons drop also varies from run to run, which will further impact which upgrade paths players may want to, or need to, take to ensure survival.

No Return’s Metagame

In addition to purely trying to survive a run, No Return offers a host of metagame objectives and unlockables that carry over from run to run, so that even if you can’t quite make it to a boss fight, players are still working toward new characters, skins, and more.

No Return starts off with Ellie and Abby as playable characters, but players now have more choice with a wider suite of unlockable characters, including some playable for the first time in the franchise. By progressing through various Challenges, you can unlock Ellie’s fellow Jacksonites Dina, Joel, Tommy, and Jesse, while Abby’s companions Lev, Yara, Mel, and Manny are all also unlockable.

Each character has unique traits that offer different playstyles. Dina, for example, comes equipped with trap and stun bomb recipes from the jump, and has an upgrade in her skill tree to craft double the amount of bombs, while Abby comes with a melee upgrade recipe and heals on melee hits. We hope the variety allows players to not only invest in the playstyles they love but also test out mechanics they may use less often.

Challenge tracks are associated with each playable character and the mode overall, and completing these objectives will unlock everything from new playable characters to new skins to gameplay twists like Gambits, Buddies, and more.

Though runs are randomised, players can separately take on custom runs that allow players to toggle on or off various factors that affect No Return’s gameplay. And if players are feeling competitive, a new Daily Run will be available every day to prove their skills against the world.* Every player will have one shot at the same randomly generated run with the same character. See how players fare against other Part II Remastered players thanks to a leaderboard where players can track how their score and runtime stack up.

No Return will be playable as soon as you boot up The Last of Us Part II Remastered, though we encourage newcomers to play the campaign first to get a handle on gameplay. For both new and returning players, this mode is designed to challenge players’ skills, and while it does offer tutorial information, having a solid basis of the fundamentals of our combat system is recommended. Whatever your prior experience with The Last of Us, we hope No Return will offer something fresh and unexpected.

Players who already own The Last of Us Part II on PS4 will be able to upgrade for $20 AUD to the Remastered version**.

Whichever way you decide to play, we can’t wait for players to experience it for the first time or relive The Last of Us Part II Remastered when it arrives for PS5 on January 19, 2024.

*Daily Run requires an internet connection.


**Upgrades for disc copies of the PS4 version of The Last of Us Part II are only available if you have a PlayStation 5 console with a disc drive. Owners of PS4 disc copies must insert them into the PS5 every time they want to download or play the PS5 digital version.


For more information on The Last Of Us Part II Remastered, head to the PlayStation Blog.

About the Author'

Adrian lives in Melbourne Australia and has a huge passion for gaming, technology and pop culture. He recently finished his a Bachelor of Journalism and is currently focusing on games journalism. When not writing and playing video games, Adrian can be found in Comics 'R' Us debating the pros of the DC Universe and cons of the Marvel Universe.

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