The Last of Us 2's upgrade system will upgrade the upgrades from the original game. On top of giving every character a working heartbeat to make you feel even more like a monster, Naughty Dog is expanding the ways that you can shape your character's growth to fit your playstyle. The incremental ability buffs from the first game, which could increase your health, reduce crafting time, and give other passive increases, will be joined or outright replaced by more dynamic tweaks to how you play.
The Last of Us 2 co-director Anthony Newman explained how the game's new approach to upgrades will work in an interview with GameSpot, saying Naughty Dog wanted to explore more possibilities for players to discover and refine their own favorite strategies.
"We really wanted to try and double-down on allowing players to express themselves strategically and find their own way to play the game," Newman said. "And so something I'm really thrilled about is the new player upgrade system where rather than having upgrades that are just minor stat booths to different things, we really wanted to have upgrades that potentially unlocked entirely new abilities or just had drastic effects on the way that you played a game."
Newman gave the example of a new mechanic that can only be unlocked with upgrades: holding your breath to steady your aim. The first game let you passively reduce your weapon sway with upgrades, and The Last of Us 2 will make it an active option to consider for players who spec their Ellie that way. The options get broader from there.
"There are entire crafting recipes, like the silencer for the pistol, that you can only learn via the player upgrade system," Newman continued. "Or some really extreme upgrades where you can craft two of an item for the same resources. You can craft two trap mines or two smoke bombs for the same resources."
Players will be able to find their own preferred synergies between playstyle, weapon upgrades, and player upgrades that "all create this confluence of a unique version of the game for yourself." Now I just want to know if you still take those non-descript "supplement" pills to buff up your character, and if so, whether I can loot a GNC to instantly become the most fearsome breath holder and mine crafter of all time.
See another side of the game with our look at how The Last of Us 2 co-writer's Westworld connection gave us the perfect Dina.