Last week was a big week for The Last Of Us Part 2. First, the game’s release date was announced during Sony’s State of Play event, and then on the 26th the demo impressions embargo lifted, letting us hear from people who have played around 3 hours of the final game. With so much coverage of how The Last Of Us Part 2 builds upon the first game, we thought we’d list all the big ways in which it builds upon the original The Last Of Us.
1. A More Progressed Post-Pandemic World
The Last Of Us was set 20 years after the cordyceps outbreak swept the world. The Last Of Us Part 2 picks up 5 years after the end of the game, so 25 years after the outbreak, and things haven’t exactly improved. We see Ellie and Joel living somewhere in Jackson with Joel’s brother Tommy. Here a small community eke out an existence behind walls. It’s here that we join Ellie and Dina, Ellie’s best friend and love interest, for a typical day.
Everyday people must go out on patrol to scavenge for food and useful resources, check that no antagonistic groups of humans have moved into the area, and clear out any infected who may have stumbled too close to home. This is clearly a routine that has ensured the survival of the group for the past 5 years, but what it doesn’t highlight is the lack of military presence. In The Last Of Us both the Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Disaster Response Agency were present, ensuring the safety of survivors through martial law. The Last Of Us Part 2 paints a bleak picture where the military has either disbanded, or been wiped out by the infection.
2. Ellie Is More Agile Than Joel
In The Last Of Us players were restricted by Joel’s capabilities. He wasn’t nimble or able to squeeze into small spaces, making some combat situations unavoidable. Ellie, however, is much more slight and agile than the father figure of the previous game. In footage we can see her leaping over large gaps to progress through areas, and the developers at Naughty Dog have confirmed that this allowed them to create much more interesting puzzles. Ellie can also squeeze through small gaps, called ‘squeeze throughs’. The idea, according to Naughty Dog, is for the player to be able to fir through a space if they think Ellie should be able to.
The Last of Us Part 2 also introduces dedicated prone and dodge buttons. Joel couldn’t dodge in the first game, meaning getting hit in combat was the result of being too close to an enemy and running out of ammo. Ellie, on the other hand, is able to duck under the swing of enemy humans, and leap into tall grass where she can lie down to break line of sight. Going prone also helps with stealth, giving Ellie the ability to sneak into buildings unseen. With these new features for avoiding combat however, comes a new power for the enemies.
Dogs were almost non-existent in The Last Of Us. In The Last Of Us Part 2 though, they are abundant, and they’re often out to kill Ellie. Enemies use dogs as they patrol, adding a new element to stealth. No longer is sneaking around about keeping out of sight and staying quiet. Dogs can track Ellie’s scent, which is visible in the game’s visual representation of noise. Dogs are also a lot more sensitive to quiet sounds, meaning that Ellie could be detected by a dog, even if the human with it doesn’t notice her.
So far no items that mask Ellie’s scent have been seen, but there could be one in the later stages of the game. Even with her new dodge and prone abilities, Ellie is vulnerable to dogs in a number of ways, and they can lead to escalating combat situations.
4. Every Enemy Matters, And They All Have a Name
Naughty Dog say that they’ve overhauled the enemy AI in The Last Of Us Part 2, and that seems very clear from the impressions of the game so far. When Ellie kills an enemy, one of their friends might yell out to them, and if they don’t hear back they’ll become agitated and investigate their location. This adds a new layer of stress to stealth encounters, because now players need to worry about their kills getting noticed, putting enemies into a state of vague awareness.
While in this state of vague awareness, enemies will actively search for Ellie, whereas they’ll just go about their business as usual if they haven’t noticed a kill. Enemies know each other, and it seems like their relationships will affect the way encounters play out. In one particular instance, a player had killed an enemy with a bow on a roof, and their friend noticed when they didn’t get a response from them. As soon as the body was discovered, the entire area was on alert for an intruder. The player moved into a building, but was tracked inside by a dog and its owner. When the owner saw the dog scratching at a door the player had gone through, they ran outside and called for their friends, bringing two more enemies into the building. This caused the encounter to escalate phenomenally, and the player then had to deal with three humans and a dog, instead of the dog and its owner.
Human enemies aren’t the only enemies that matter in The Last Of Us Part 2 though.
5. The Infected Are More Dangerous Than Ever
Present in the demo that press played were both infected, and non-infected enemies. Apparently the infected enemies have been made even more dangerous than they were in the first game, with Runners, the first stage of infection, being more aware and faster. People are saying that Clickers present far more of a threat than they did in The Last Of Us, and it’s better to try to avoid them altogether by throwing bottles to distract them. Ellie now has a knife on her at all times, so every enemy can be stealth killed, whereas in the first game Joel could only do this if he had previously crafted a shiv.
In addition to these two known variants of the infected, there were two more in the demo. Neil Druckmann has confirmed that there are more variants that haven’t been seen in addition to these two new ones. The first new infected stage is called the Stalker. This is the stage between Runner and Clicker, when someone has been infected for a few months, and the fungus is beginning to grow through their head. The Stalker will hide from Ellie, rushing out to attack her by surprise, and run away and hide when Ellie fights back. The second new infected is called the Shambler. This stage appears to come between Clicker and Bloater, with the infected human being covered in pustules will burst to emit toxic gas that burns anyone caught in it. These infected will rush Ellie, and can take a lot of punishment, so the dodge mechanic will be massively important in any encounters with them.
6. Ellie Can Be Upgraded to Suit Any Player
In The Last Of Us Part 2, collecting supplements is still important for upgrading Ellie’s abilities. However, Ellie has a much wider skill tree to climb than Joel, and it’s much more specialised as well. Survival skills will focus on improving Ellie’s health, expanding the range of Listen Mode, and the distance objects can be thrown. Crafting upgrades will let Ellie create melee upgrades, increase her crafting speed, and add smoke to stun grenades. Stealth improves Ellie’s movement speeds, makes stealth kills faster, and unlocks the ability to craft silencers for pistols. By collecting supplements, players can craft an Ellie that suits their play style down to the ground.
Silencing weapons was never possible in The Last Of Us, with the only silenced weapon being the bow. Now Ellie will eventually be able to craft silencers, adding new elements to stealth encounters the could open up new avenues of progression. However, choosing to craft a silencer will undoubtedly prevent Ellie from crafting something else important, so players will have to make the choice as to what they want in their arsenal.
8. Friends Deal Real Damage This Time Around
In The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog has told us that friendly AI didn’t deal all that much damage. Whilst playing as Joel you’d occasionally see Tess or Ellie shoot an enemy, throw a bottle, and sometimes stab an enemy, but their attacks didn’t deal very much damage. The most useful thing friendly AI could do in The Last Of Us was distract the enemy, but in The Last Of Us Part 2 that’s completely changed. Now friendly AI, such as Dina in the opening section to the game, will deal the same amount of damage as Ellie does, meaning that if an enemy is one shot off of dying, they could get finished off by the current friendly AI character.