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University Nailbomb Softlock Fix for The Last of Us (PS3, PS4)

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the video game, The Last of Us. If you have not yet completed the game, you should do so or if you simply don’t care, you can read through. You have been warned.


A few weeks back I was browsing through AnthonyCaliber videos. Showcasing various glitches in The Last of Us Remastered. Most of the glitches in the video are out of bounds and does not prevent progressing through the game but there is one glitch that caught my eye.

(Credit: AnthonyCaliber) Original Video (Timestamped 01:48:02)

Once I saw this, a great idea popped into my head. Either to give the player infinite health during this section or making the nailbomb ineffective. I went with the latter option as the former caused issues. As you might’ve seen from the video, if the two hunters die then the camera will freeze but the player can still move so that is a no go. My plan is to research into the weapons, which in this case the nailbomb and how the game knows what task or level it’s currently on.

Part 1 - Research

Let’s start by seeing how the game keeps track of what level or task we are on. Thanks to the work of Freako and HereisMe. Some of this has already been worked out and is published. In the Naughty Dog Modding server, Freako has kindly provided all the info that he knows about the game in an archive which will become very useful as this post goes on. So let’s have a look at it.

TLOU Research folder

A few folders, the ones we’re interested in are tasks and weapon-loadout. Inside the task folder is a text file and some example files. This text file list where things are, what’s been discovered, etc.

Basic Task.bin data structure. (Credit: Freako)

The image is barebones but enough for us to understand. From the text file on how to find a given task is as follows: get string address, find string offset as address. The identifier is found right next to the string. Obviously this is for the ps3 version soo, give me a moment while I extract the PS4 version. Alright here’s the list of task we’ll need to keep track and to later patch.


Since we’re on x86_amd64 (PlayStation4), the CPU architecture is little funny. You see there’s this thing called a little or big endian and it gets confusing if you’re new, like me. Say you have a value, 09 87 65 43 21 00 00 00 this is how it would be represented on big endian, which is what the PlayStation 3 uses. But on x86, it’s little endian which means, these bytes are swapped. Now it is 43 65 87 09 00 00 00 21. Wrap your head around that when you have to keep track of things, worse of all, hexadecimal data displayed via printf is byte swapped! So what’s the point?

Real thinking hours.

Anyways, here’s the task ids

uni-4-lab-rebar-ambush          // F0 8E BC 40
uni-4-lab-rebar-aiming          // CF F0 66 A4
uni-4-lab-help-off-rebar        // 6A 60 B6 9A
uni-4-lab-injured-escape-start  // 5C 5D 81 11
uni-4-lab-injured-escape-vault  // C8 5F D3 4A

Alright, now for the weapons, fortunately, there’s only one we need to know what the ID is and that is the nailbomb, already figured out by the legend that is HereisMe.

0x18A76844 == WeaponIdNailBomb()

Reverse that and that’s what our id is on ps4.

Part 2 - Reproducing the issue

Now to the reproduction steps. Following what Anthony did, got us the same result, the hunter dies and the camera is stuck. Or the nailbomb explodes and the player is put into an indefinite loop. A softlock.

This camera is not moving
Indefinite respawns and nailbomb exploding.

InCase anyone is wondering, yes I do know that you can restart encounters to “resolve” these issues but it should not even happen in the first place.

Part 3 - Patching

I made the decision to get rid of the explosion but left the nailbomb intact. The player can shoot and it will do absolutely nothing.

Searching for the string of nailbomb, nada. what about bomb?

...a smoke bomb string reference

Welp, that was a disappointment alright.

Hey, what about that weapon ID earlier? This yielded some results. I will now introduce you, to the method of lazy reversing. Look for a branch and skip it or put a return from subroutine at the beginning of the function.

Alright, let’s have a look at some of these references.

That's a lotta results

Most of these don’t do anything interesting and there’s only one reference that did do something.

This reference disables the damage output.

That does something.

Okay, now what? if we use this code for our fix, it could work but the explosions particles would still go off. Looks a little distracting, don’t you think?

Oh look, there’s an error message that I missed. Explosion Missing Parameters these unfortunately doesn’t print anything on to the screen but it gives us a clue. the word explosion can be used to find other references.

  if (local_2b0 == 0) {
    FUN_01c84a80("Explosion Missing Parameters");
// ...
    if ((bool)uVar31) {
      uVar30 = uVar2 < 0x18a76844;
That is a lot of results

The refernce that disables the particles is around SpawnExplosionEffects - no explosion settings string.

Let’s give it a try.

Hmm, it still blows up. even if there is no particles. that’s distracting if you ask me.

Wait a minute, there’s two SpawnExplosion strings.

SpawnExplosion - can't find explosion settings sounds interesting.

Related function calls

Hmm, let’s have a look at the call references to this function. Alright time to bisect what does what. Some of these did what we saw before and some even crashed the game outright, so that’s not good. How do I test this you may ask?

Removing the call. using the no operation instruction.

There is one call that stood out. 0x016a299a

  if ((param_1 + 0x40) == 0) {
    // ...

Close to a return.. hmm, what could that mean?

There’s a branch up here, let’s skip it.


Not only does this not blow-up, it does absolutely nothing when an npc goes near it!

Time for the patch.

Keep in mind that this is my interpretation of the code I wrote in assembly but the pseudocode should be readable enough to your average amateur programmers.

  if (task == 0x40bc8ef0 || 0xa466f0cf || 0x9ab6606a || 0x11815d5c || 0x4ad35fc8 )
    // uni-4-lab-rebar-ambush         40bc8ef0
    // uni-4-lab-rebar-aiming         a466f0cf
    // uni-4-lab-help-off-rebar       9ab6066a
    // uni-4-lab-injured-escape-start 11815d5c
    // uni-4-lab-injured-vault        4ad35fc8
    return; // disable nailbomb explosion output
  // enable nailbomb explosion, normal path

Looks good! time to try it out.

Oh no, what happened?

As it turns out, I made a minor typo. I was comparing against 0x9ab6606a and not the supposed 0x9ab6066a. A simple fix solved this.

If you enjoyed reading and would like to support, you can do so by supporting me my Patreon page or follow my YouTube channel and Blog for more content like this.

As always, I hope you learned something from these posts, catch you next time!

Enjoy your one-less bug video game!



Special thanks to:

ZEROx for porting to the PS3 version.

Freako and HereisMe for publishing their knowledge about reversing Naughty Dog Titles.


This patch is available for PS3 (RPCS3), and PS4.

For those looking to use the patch on the RPCS3 emulator, you can head over to the patch manager, click on the “Download Latest Patches” button and find the patch you wanted to use with your game Title ID and version, click on the checkbox to enable the patch and save changes.

Patch Source Code (RPCS3)

Patch (PS4)

PlayStation 4 users, can follow this guide on how to install the patch here. (the following tutorial does not cover how to build the update package. only to install the patch into the binary.)


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