Being the best feels good. But beating your high score or reaching the top of the leaderboard isn’t always easy. Here’s how to get S Rank every time in No Return, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered‘s roguelike mode.
The Road to S Rank: Understanding Encounter Scores and Rank Scores
No Return features Encounters and Runs. Encounters are individual levels, while Runs are all the levels you’ve played to that point. Encounters are scored individually from C Rank to S Rank based on the points accrued in an Encounter. Runs are scored collectively from C Rank to S Rank based on the total points of all Encounters added together.
Your current ranks for both Encounters and Runs appear at the bottom of each screen following a level’s completion.
How Encounter Scores are Determined
Many factors determine an Encounter’s score. Completing an Encounter, beating it quickly, and performing actions like melee kills and headshots accrue different points. Mods, Encounter types, and enemy factions also impact scores. The point totals needed for each rank are:
- S Rank: 450 points.
- A Rank: 400 points.
- B Rank: 280 points.
- C Rank: 200 points.
The difficulty you choose, the map mode, and the active mods determine the multiplier. Certain map modes have higher multipliers (e.g. boss battles vs Hunted). Higher difficulties have higher multipliers. And mods is where things get interesting. I didn’t notice this for my first few hours playing No Return, but green mods that help you apply a negative multiplier, while red mods that hurt you apply a positive multiplier.
Here are some of the criteria that determine points in Encounters:
- Encounter Completion: 100 points.
- Time Complete: 100 points for finishing in under 3 minutes. -1 point ever 5 seconds after 3 minutes.
- Enemies Killed: 10 points per enemy killed
- Damage Taken: Begins at 100 points and decreases by 1 point for every 2 points of damage taken.
- Accuracy: Begins at 100 points and decreases for every bullet missed.
- No Ally: 20 points for completing an Encounter without an Ally.
- Gambit Completion: 10 points for completing a Gambit.
- Stun: 5 points per stunned individual enemy.
- Melee Kills: 5 points for every melee kill, including fists.
- Stealth Kills: 5 points for every stealth takedown or kill with a silenced weapon.
- Headshots: 5 points for each headshot.
- Difficulty: Multipliers based on each difficulty:
- Very Light: x1.00
- Light: x1.20
- Moderate: x1.50
- Hard: x1.80
- Survivor: x2.00
- Grounded: x2.50
- Map Mode: Multiplier based on Encounter type:
- Hunted: x0.2
- Holdout: x0.2
- Boss: x0.5
Why Didn’t I Get S Rank But Had the Points for S Rank?
Encounter points are determined before any multipliers. It’s a strange system I don’t love, but you must meet the S Rank point threshold before difficulty, map mode, and mods multipliers are applied. While you may have gotten 500 total points in an Encounter, you won’t get S Rank if your total before multipliers was anything below 450.
Tips for Getting S Rank in No Return
I admit: getting S Rank in No Return becomes harder and harder as you increase the difficulty. Very Light can be trying at times, but even Moderate poses a significant challenge if you don’t have the right character, build, or loadout — or if you don’t have enough crafting supplies. Your playstyle and comfortability with map modes, too, factor into achieving S Rank.
At a high level, do the following:
- Complete Encounters as quickly as possible (within 3 minutes).
- Take the fight to the enemy. Don’t hang back unless you have to. Getting melee kills, stuns, and headshots and finishing an Encounter within the time limit always gives more points than stealth. This is most important in Hunted, where you get points 10 extra points for killing enemies.
- Be accurate with your shots, and always aim for headshots. If possible, don’t fire a shot; use melee only to preserve 100% accuracy.
- Don’t rush human enemies straight on if they’ve seen you. They’ll almost always stun-lock you with shots, draining your health, points, and time.
- Complete every Gambit you get, unless it’s a prone Gambit or one that takes too much time.
- Compensate for negative modifiers by stunning enemies with bottles or bricks before meleeing them or shooting them in the head. 10 points for the price of one.
Play No Return on Very Light or Light difficulty. My first tip is to familiarize yourself with maps, map modes, enemy alertness (searching vs combat), and each character’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, Joel and Tommy can’t dodge, removing a key defensive maneuver. Abby heals on melee. And Lev focuses on stealth combat with his bow. Upgrade Training Manuals play a large part in those, too.
- Enemies that begin in search mode aren’t alerted to your presence and slowly move through a map searching for you. These are perfect for racking up stealth kills.
- Enemies that begin in combat mode typically home in on your location quickly — and Infected can easily swarm you. However, this can be good for getting melee kills if you have multiple melee weapons.
Focus on Stability and Recoil weapon upgrades: Since we want to keep our accuracy score high and score headshots, I suggest investing in Stability and Recoil weapon upgrades. Stability decreases weapon sway by 35%. Recoil decreases recoil by 35% and increases accuracy by 25%.
Run and kite on smaller maps. Taking damage is too easy, and healing is too hard because you don’t have time. Kite enemies around obstacles and melee them or shoot them in the head. Round them into groups and burn them with Molotovs. Place Trap Mines as soon as the Encounter starts. Otherwise, you run the risk of blowing yourself up.
Dodge as much as possible. Practice dodging and learn enemy melee animations to get the timing right. Doing so preserves your health in the long run because you won’t fall victim to a Seraphite heavy attack or an Infected lunge. Don’t let Stalkers grapple you either; it melts your HP.
Look at each Encounter before starting a run. I highlight each level in a run to determine my path early. Note rewards, Training Manuals, enemies, map modes, mods, and enemy start states. Prepare for Encounters as far in advance as possible. For example, maybe save your Molotovs or Shotgun bullets in this Encounter for the next Encounter.
Those are my tips for getting S Rank in No Return. With a little practice, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the mode, as well as its modifiers, levels setups, and more. Each new difficulty requires a slightly new learning curve, I’ve found, so prepare to tweak your strategies. For more on roguelike mode for The Last of Us 2 Remastered, learn why Dead Drops are worth it.