7 custom difficulty settings from Last of Us 2 you need to experiment with

Auto-aim, awareness indicators, and the ability to skip puzzles, oh my!

Naughty Dog / Sony Entertainment LLC

The Last of Us Part II will be released June 19, and it's poised to be a surprisingly customizable experience. Both The Verge and Can I Play That? have delved into the game's accessibility and difficulty options, as has a thorough PlayStation Blog post. For anyone looking to modify the difficulty of their experience with The Last of Us Part II in subtle or hyper-specific ways, here are 7 of the most interesting custom difficult settings you can explore in the game.

Before delving into the difficulty-based highlights from the June 9 PlayStation Blog post, it's worth noting the standard difficulty options: From the start, the modes you can play are "Very Light, Light, Moderate, Hard, Survivor, or Custom." Choosing Custom will allow you to modify how playable characters, allies, enemies, stealth, and resources work within The Last of Us 2. Consider choosing that as your base difficulty setting and explore these 7 options.

The Last of Us Part 2 features over 60 accessibility and difficulty settings.

Naughty Dog / Sony Entertainment LLC

7. Lock-On Aim

Anyone who's unfamiliar with third-person shooters — or shooters in general — may want to activate this feature. "Automatically lock-on to enemy targets when aiming," the PlayStation Blog post explains. "Targets the center of the enemy’s body by default. Use |right-stick| to target the head or legs. If set to AUTO-TARGET, you will lock onto the next enemy automatically even if they’re offscreen." This very basic aim assist is common many similar games and should stand to make combat much easier than it otherwise would be.

6. Arc-Throw Lock-On

This option exists for using throwables while in stealth: "In stealth, bricks and bottles lock-on slightly away from enemies to facilitate distractions. Use |right-stick| to directly target the enemy instead," the post confirms. A key facet of these games is tossing objects like bricks and bottles in different places to distract enemies so you can sneak up on them. With this feature enabled, you can gently aim at an enemy and it'll automatically deploy the object at a nearby spot that'll distract then.

If you're finding a section particularly difficult or are having trouble aiming and don't want to adjust the overall difficulty, this lock-on feature should prove very useful.

5. Navigation Assistance

Navigation Assistance will make getting around Last of Us 2's open areas much easier: "Pressing |L3| faces the camera in the direction of story progression, marking the path to follow," PlayStation Blog states. "If Enhanced Listen Mode is also enabled, then pressing |L3| while in listen mode (hold |R1|) will instead direct the player towards the most recently scanned item or enemy." If you find yourself getting lost often in games, particularly in darker open environments where the path forward isn't always clear, these options should streamline the experience.

4. Traversal Assistance

"[Traversal Assistance] enables simplified traversal input," the official description highlights. "Press |X| to automatically perform certain difficult jumps. Automatically climb ledges and squeeze through small gaps. Automatically vault small obstacles while on the horse. Automatically sprint in certain encounters."

Platforming elements weren't really a concern in the first game, where Joel couldn't jump at all, so Last of Us 2 has this accessibility option to help anyone who finds Ellie's mobility jarring to pilot.

3. Skip Puzzle Option

If certain puzzles are stumping you, this self-explanatory feature will give you the option to skip the entire puzzle. "When in a puzzle, select SKIP PUZZLE from the pause menu to advance to the puzzle’s completion," its description said. "This setting is highly recommended for players who are blind or have low vision because some puzzle progression may not be fully accessible."

The PlayStation Blog post admits that "additional accessibility assistance for puzzles is available with the 1.01 and 1.02 patches," so expect more options to help with puzzles shortly after the game launches. If you're just playing the game for its story, these options to skip puzzles should prove very helpful.

2. Enemies Don't Flank

Outside of the story and puzzles, combat and stealth are two other major gameplay areas in The Last of Us 2. As you should suspect by now, these mechanics have a bevy of customization options to choose from, like how enemies will become less able to perceive you while you're in stealth or they become worse at aiming depending on the aforementioned difficulty mode.

"Enemies Don't Flank" ensures that "enemies will not intentionally try to get behind your position." Especially in encounters against a group of enemies, this will prevent you from getting overwhelmed.

1. Awareness Indicators

Another helpful tool in both stealth and combat are the awareness indicators that show where enemies are relative to you and how aware they are of your location. This feature can be used for stealth, meaning that "awareness indicators display until you are spotted."

Alternatively, you can make it so they always appear after The Last of Us Part 2's first patch: "Awareness indicators persist during combat. This setting is recommended for players who are deaf or hard of hearing."

The Last of Us Part 2 will be released for PS4 on June 19, 2020.

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