I've been watching a Last of Us let's play after I play each section and I've noticed that when he comes upon a number of items in one place, they all get picked up at once. Is there a way to pick up a bunch of stuff at once, or is he just hammering the triangle button?
You can pick up multiple items at once by holding triangle.
Note: I usually still prefer to pick them up one at a time so I can see exactly what I'm getting. But if you the ability to tell without the little symbols this can save you some time.
Just hammer time the triangle button, or hold it. I think it's safer to not break your controller and just hold the button.