“The Last of Us: The Complete First Season” – 4K UHD Review

The Last of Us Season 1 4K UHD Release
‘The Last of Us: The Complete First Season’ – 4K UHD (Image: PR)

The 4K UHD home release of The Last of Us: The Complete First Season offers tons of extra content for fans to enjoy along with impressive audio and visual presentation.

HBO/Warner Bros Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of The Last of Us: The Complete First Season 4K UHD release mentioned in this review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Debuting on HBO on January 15, 2023, the Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey-starring post-apocalyptic zombie show The Last of Us ended up becoming an unexpected hit across the globe. The popularity was surprising not only due to it being a genre show but also because it had well-written queer representation. We all remember where we were when episode 3 (‘Long, Long Time’) aired.

While we wait for the already greenlit second season, fans can go ahead and purchase the entire first season of The Last of Us on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD. It’s also available on Digital, but considering what’s been happening to the availability of content across certain streaming platforms (shows are being taken off!), physical copies are where it’s at.

The Last of Us is a great show that explores how humanity deals with grief, loss, trauma, and wanting to hold onto a sense of hope while exploring the relationship between two strangers: Pascal’s hardened survivor Joel and Ramsey’s defiant Ellie (who might hold the cure to the zombie apocalypse).

However, I won’t be spending my time reviewing the entire first season in this post. Our contributor Micah’s done a good job of that already.

You can read his episodic reviews here.

Instead, I will be focusing on what the current 4K UHD physical release of Last of Us has to offer fans.

The Packaging

The 4K UHD release of TLoU season one comes in your standard plastic packaging with a slip cardboard cover. The front of the cover has an image showcasing Joel and Ellie looking back while the backdrop depicts a desolate cityscape. The back of the cover has another image of Ellie and Joel along with a synopsis, a rundown of the special features, and specifications.

The plastic packaging (housing the discs) also has the same imagery and information. This is a 4-disc set that includes all 9 episodes from the show’s first season as well as the extra content. And instead of a piece of paper with a Digital Code, you get a small poster of Ellie and Joel. On the back of the poster is the episode breakdown and the list of special features.

Disc 1 has episodes 1 and 2 (along with the respective Inside the Episode content). The second disc has episodes 3 and 4 (and the respective Inside the Episode featurette). Disc 3 has episodes 5, 6, and 7 (plus the Inside the Episode content). And the final disc has episodes 8 and 9 along with the majority of the extra content.

I was a bit disappointed that the 4K UHD physical release didn’t include a Digital Code.

Visual Presentation

The visual presentation featured in the 4K UHD release of The Last of Us really took me by surprise. I mean, I’m used to home releases, but there’s just something about the visual presentation in this particular offering of TLoU that sets it apart from the rest. My eyes didn’t have such a great time watching the show on the Crave streaming service (over here in Canada) as they did watching the 4K UHD version.

The 2160p UHD 4K visual presentation with Dolby Vision is going to delight fans. You would be surprised to see just how much color there is in TLoU even though it’s supposed to be a depressing show about the last of humankind fighting zombies. The brown and yellow color pallet looks crisp as heck onscreen. And the greenery and the blue sky really pop during Joel and Ellie’s journey.

There’s so much detail to take in when the Clickers appear. You can tell the costume and CGI departments really gave it their all.

And the same holds true for the human characters, especially during close-ups. From the hair strands to the skin and clothing textures, you will get to see everything. And that goes for the gore-filled stuff, too. So, brace yourself. I still remember the elongating tendrils during Tess’s death scene.

Take it from me, rewatching The Last of Us in such high-definition is a very different and pleasing experience after watching the show on a streaming service.

Audio Presentation

Featuring a Dolby Atmos track, I didn’t encounter any issues with the audio. The Clicker noises are annoyingly high. And the ambient noise throughout the busy scenes really helps bring the world of Last of Us to life.

Extra Content

One of the main selling points for this particular home release was the advertised more than 2 hours of extra content for fans to dive into.

Let’s go over them!

  • Inside the Episode – As the name states, the ‘Inside the Episode’ Featurettes include behind-the-scenes content with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage. These featurettes range from approximately 3 to 8 minutes. It’s nothing new for fans who have watched said featurettes online. But I guess they are still nice to have just in case HBO Max/Warner Bros Discovery decides to delete them from YouTube or the streaming service for some reason.
  • Controllers Down: Adapting The Last of Us – This chunk of extra content is almost 12 minutes long and offers a look at the challenges that were faced to adapt a popular video game for the small screen.
  • From Levels to Live Action – Coming in at 12 minutes long, you get to see certain comparisons between the game and the TV versions of TLoU.
  • The Last of Us: Stranger than Fiction – Being approximately 24 minutes long, I really enjoyed this extra content. This is kind of similar to the opening of the show where we saw the narrative talk about a fungi being capable of taking over humankind and how humans will react to such an event. You will get to see parallels between the show and what’s happening in the “real” world. TLoU fans are going to love this!
  • Ashley Johnson Spotlight – Almost 3 minutes long, get to know actress Ashley Johnson who played Ellie in the original video game.
  • Get to Know Me – Being 16 minutes long, Pascal, Ramsay, Merle Dandridge, Gabriel Luna, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett discuss their characters and how they prepared to do justice to the themes being explored.
  • Is This a The Last of Us Line? – Lasting almost 5 minutes, Pascal and Ramsey play a game where they figure out if a line of dialogue is from the game or the show. You can also watch it online. The other pair is Dandridge and Luna (approximately 3 minutes long).
  • The Last Debrief with Troy Baker – We have Troy Baker (who played Joel in the video game) answering a bunch of questions. The five debriefs fall in the 5 to 7 minutes range. You can also watch them online.

So, yeah, while the 4K UHD release of The Last of Us has a lot of extra content, most of it is already available online (for free on YouTube).

Having said that, I would still recommend opting for the home release of The Last of Us if you want to re-experience watching such a well-written and filmed show in the impressive video presentation offered by the 4K UHD version. And hey! You will also get to really own such a great series in high-quality physical format.

Did you watch The Last of Us season 1? What did you think of it?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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