Seven years after the launch of The Last of Us and close to four years after its initial reveal, The Last of Us Part II is finally out in the wild. Over the last two weeks, I’ve been able to experience the game, putting in around 30 hours in total. What I’ve seen is a marvellous follow up to a generation-defining title and a game that comes so close to being perfect.
The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after its predecessor. Joel and Ellie have found a new home, taking solace in a settlement located in Jackson, Wyoming, where Joel’s brother Tommy and his wife Maria are also situated.
Ellie is in the spotlight more than ever before this time around, with players assuming control over her instead of Joel. Ellie has grown considerably over the last five years, not only as a combatant and reliable scout for the settlement but as a person as well.
There are so many reasons why The Last of Us Part II is great but for me, its biggest strength is how well Naughty Dog have refined, expanded and improved upon the gameplay of the original. Despite being a great game, The Last of Us never truly satisfied me in the gameplay department. The games gun mechanics were far too floaty for my liking and felt like a cheap tactic to increase tension during combat scenarios.
While this is still somewhat prevalent in The Last of Us Part II, the overall gameplay experience is so much better. Gunplay is improved with the ability to crouch or go prone, increasing your accuracy when firing. Weapon upgrades are also a part of the crafting system, with Ellie able to utilise workbenches scattered throughout the game to improve her arsenal and make them more reliable in combat.
On the quieter side, stealth also sees significant improvement. Ellie can hide in shrubs and long grass, which you can either use as a method for getting the jump on an enemy or by avoiding combat entirely. Enemies have their own new tactics however, with dogs now able to track Ellie’s scent and hunt her down.
Scavenging is once again a key mechanic, but The Last of Us Part II is much bigger than the first entry so exploring your surroundings for additional resources is encouraged even more. You’ll be lacking resources if you stick to the main path, so you’ll need to do a little searching here and there to keep yourself stocked up. The bigger world and increased focus on exploration was actually my favourite part of the game. Not only did it provide me with additional resources, but I got such a bigger insight into the game’s world through additional areas and collectibles which motivated me to explore almost every nook and cranny.
Unfortunately, a couple of bland and uninteresting encounters hamper the later stages of the game but don’t let that discourage you from the fact that The Last of Us Part II presents one of the best gameplay experiences available on the current generation of consoles.
Most of my enjoyment in The Last of Us stemmed from its storytelling, and while Part II doesn’t quite reach the same heights, it’ll definitely keep you engaged as you progress. Much of this can be attributed to interesting characters and some stunning set pieces that really help to escalate the action a few notches higher.
There are some narrative aspects that could have been done better. As much as I liked some characters, others would have benefitted by having more time dedicated to fleshing them out. The game itself is also quite long and can overstay its welcome a bit. At points in the game, there were times where I did have to question whether certain sections really made a difference to the overarching story, or whether the game would have been stronger if some scenes or gameplay sections were swapped out for further character building.
As an overall package, The Last of Us Part II is fantastic. It stands as one of the greatest games to release this generation and a testament to the quality of first-party titles that Sony and Naughty Dog are capable of producing. While I highly recommend you check out the original, The Last of Us Part II does enough to accommodate newcomers as well – a great asset to have as this game is an absolute must-play.
The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II is a wonderful title that perfectly highlights why Naughty Dog are experts in creating story-driven games. Whether you’re a fan of the original or just on the lookout for the latest blockbuster title, The Last of Us Part II is definitely worth the investment.
- Stunning Visuals
- Significantly Improved Gameplay
- Increased focus on exploration
- A Few Frustrating Combat Scenarios
- A Little Too Long