Could the PS5 Actually Cure Naughty Dog’s Infamous Crunch?

  • The Last of Us Part II launched in June after months of well-documented crunch.
  • Naughty Dog VP Neil Druckmann says the PS5’s fewer technical constraints gift developers a new sense of freedom.
  • The SSD could be pivotal in reducing crunch by providing designers with less-resource intensive methods to implement Naughty Dog’s famed level of detail.

The human cost of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II is well documented. Months of crunch, 12-hour work-days, rapid staff turnover, revision upon revision, multiple delays: The Last of Us Part II took its toll.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the shift to the next-gen PlayStation 5 (PS5). It’s a technical marvel that could lessen the burden of the studio’s dogged pursuit of perfectionism.

The Last of Us Part II’s development was plagued by months of crunch. | Source: Naughty Dog/PlayStation

PS5 Is a Revelation for Perfectionist Developers

Former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime hosted Naughty Dog vice president Neil Druckmann in the final episode of the Talking Games With Reggie and Harold podcast this week.

After touching on Druckmann’s path in the industry and the divisive yet successful launch of The Last of Us Part II, the discussion turned to the upcoming PS5 console.

Druckmann explained his excitement at the technical possibilities that the console will usher in, notably the repeatedly-lauded SSD.

The Naughty Dog VP compared the end of generation constraints to “pushing against a bunch of walls.” The aging hardware forces developers to find creative ways to push it further, which requires considerable resources and time.

With the arrival of the PS5 later this year, Druckmann described a sense of freedom afforded by the new hardware:

Oh my god, we can breathe again!

A Cure for Crunch?

Druckmann then offered a concrete example of how the SSD will change how Naughty Dog approaches the development of its games:

We do so much work, on our end,…

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