PSA: Play Naughty Dog Games On Hard With Auto-Aim

Naughty Dog games are generally not too difficult. While the developer churned out some tough-as-nails levels back in the Crash Bandicoot days, The Last of Us and Uncharted are fairly forgiving. Both series have always had multiple difficulties, and over the years they've added a cornucopia of accessibility options that allow players to tweak the gameplay experience until it's perfect for them.

So, if you don't like the puzzles in The Last of Us Part 1, you can skip them (which was very helpful for me when I ran into a bugged puzzle that would have completely halted my progress otherwise). If you have trouble finding items in the environment, you can turn on radar in The Last of Us Part 2 and object ping as the wave passes by it. In The Last of Us Part 1 you can even switch to a control option designed to allow disabled players to play the entire game with one hand.

These accessibility settings make the game better for everyone. They help include players that otherwise couldn't enjoy the games, and they provide a wealth of options for everyone else. In fact, while playing Uncharted 4, these options led me to the optimal way to play a modern Naughty Dog game: on hard (or higher) with auto-aim on.

If that sounds strange, let me explain. While I love Naughty Dog's games, the shooting hasn't, historically, felt great by default. When I started up The Last of Us Part 1 recently, I was surprised by how listless Joel's aim felt. When he popped his head out of stealth to take a shot, he was rarely facing where I wanted him to face. The Last of Us Part 2 fixes this by defaulting to having aim assist on high from the start. But, in The Last of Us Part 1, Joel is pretty clueless about where to point the gun, which makes the game more difficult than it needs to be. Thankfully, Naughty Dog's accessibility settings give you an option beyond just turning the difficulty down. Instead, you can turn on lock-on aim or aim assist.

I do that, then I turn the difficulty up to Hard. That lets me focus on the things I want to focus on. Last time I played through The Last of Us, with the PS4 remaster, I breezed through it on Normal. The PS3 version was one of the first games I played when I got back into gaming, and I was so rusty at that point that every victory was hard won. So hard won, in fact, that the second time I played it, every level was burned into my muscle memory. I was a whirlwind of weaponry tearing through each level without pause.

So when I replayed on PS5, I wanted more of a challenge with stealth. Setting the game to Hard, which made resources slightly more scarce and enemies more attentive, was the challenge I needed. Wrestling with Joel's aim was not. Similarly, when I played Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy earlier this year, I wanted to focus on swinging around on vines and climbing cliff sides like a mighty adventurer, not slowly inching the reticle towards an enemy's head.

Though Naughty Dog's games are pretty traditionally structured, this is one way that they feel downright futuristic. While there's legitimate debate about how a game like Elden Ring — where the challenge is integral to the experience — should handle accessibility, that isn't the case here. For the kind of story-focused games that Naughty Dog makes, the more options the better.

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