The Last of Us Part 1 isn’t immune to the shader plague that causes many PC games to stutter and crash.
Sony’s latest PC port chugs on all sorts of hardware, regardless of the game’s modest system requirements. Players report stuttering, frame rate inconsistency, and frequent crashes.
The root of the problems seem to be from the game’s shader compiling, which has become a common issue with PC games over the last few years. Your graphics card has to do some preliminary processing before the world is rendered correctly, and it has to be done in preparation for every scene in the game at least once. In some cases, developers can pre-compile shaders so you don’t have to when you start the game, but it’s not a common practice.
The Last of Us Part 1 lets you jump right into the game and have the shaders compile in the background, but it warns you about performance issues. I chose to play the game immediately and the shader progress only hit 40% in the 10 minutes I played before it crashed. When I relaunched it, the progress had jumped to 80%. It’s worth noting that my PC has an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti, an Intel Core i9 12900K, and 32GB of RAM—more than enough to run a game like this on modest settings with DLSS on.
An early cutscene during the game’s intro sequence asked me to wait, presumably to load the shaders for the next sequence. Otherwise, it ran fine until Joel and Tess took their first steps out into the overgrown city. Players with all sorts of hardware setups—from Nvidia 4090s to 2070s—on the game’s subreddit and Steam forums report that the stuttering and crashing continue until the shaders finish compiling.
On Steam, the game has over 1,400 reviews that are “mostly negative.” Many of them criticize how long it takes to compile the shaders, the number of crashes, and how many system resources it eats up even when it’s finished. Steam user Bänjah‘s negative review simply reads: “The Crash of Us™ Part I.”
The PC version was co-developed by Naughty Dog and Iron Galaxy, the same studio that recently brought the Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection PC. It’s unclear how much work Naughty Dog did on the PC version itself, but it said, “Sharing our stories and experiences on PS5 as well as PC is something that Naughty Dog has embraced and will continue to support moving forward,” in a blog post today, suggesting it will be a part of future PC ports.
Uncharted, Iron Galaxy’s last PC port, has a limited set of graphics options, but, apart from some stuttering at launch, seems to run well for most people. The last Sony PC port, Returnal, was developed by Climax Studios, and 2021’s God of War PC version was done by Jetpack Interactive.
Sony hasn’t commented on the port’s performance or if it plans on releasing a patch soon.
The massive success of The Last of Us adaptation on HBO has almost certainly convinced a lot of people to finally give the game a try, but until it runs properly, you might be better off starting a rewatch instead.