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My thoughts on The Last of Us Pt. 2 (unmarked SPOILERS throughout)

To start iff off, I played the remaster for Part 1 for the first time in November and loved it and played it again last week leading up to part 2. So glad I did. The two games back to back is my favorite narrative experience ever in games.

I stayed away from any leaks and didnt let the thought that there might be political pandering (which i would normally hate) cloud my judgment and played the game with the clearest mindset possible. I fully expected to like it but to still consider RDR2 the GOAT in narrative epic gaming. I was blown away. So here we go:


The game looks absolutely stunning. Insane atmosphere, rich environments, unmatched facial animation and character emotion, very cool craft table animations, etc. It all felt so immersive. I spent probably 4 hours exploring every bit of Seattle on Day 1 and I felt like every time I explored I was rewarded. The water, the weather, the sky, especially the sunset near the end at the farmhouse, all incredible.

The acting is also near unparalleled in games.

Then you have the violence, which is the most brutal video game violence I’ve ever seen. Obviously Doom or MK are on another level, but that is more cartoonish over the top violence. The violence and gore was so insanely detailed, visceral, and most important authentic here. The body damage is better than any game I’ve seen. Faces blown open by a pistol shot or a bludgeon, blood pools forming differently depending on the wound and terrain, bits of skull and brain on the floor or dripping down the wall after a head shot… blowing a body, dog or human, in half from an explosive arrow or mine… it was all so much better than what I’ve ever seen in a game. The named NPCs losing their friends at your hands or their beloved dogs… It gave so much weight and consequence to your actions and you felt the raw, brutal desperation even more than you did in the first game.


Gameplay is the same for the most part but with some massive improvements in agency and mobility. I loved the verticality of the combat encounters, jumping ledges to get an angle, going prone to get a shot from under a vehicle, etc and the game encourages so much exploration. That was one of my favorite aspects is just immersing myself in the world in the quiet moments. The weapons all have a brutal punch to them and the gunplay is great and weighty. The melee combat is vicious and satisfying, and the stealth made for some insanely intense moments. The slow creep through the first big neighborhood is one of my favorite stealth experiences of all time now. Dodging was also a welcome addition. Much improved overall from the first game. I have been replaying encounters all day since I finished the main game and am having a blast.

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The most devisive aspect by far. But honestly, I loved every minute.

To address some common criticism about Joel and Tommy’s choices being “out of character”.

Dont you think in the 4 years between games that Tommy and Joel encountered different groups of survivors, gave their names, broke bread, and welcomed them into their community? Of course they did. There was nothing about this particular group that should have been suspicious given the abundant context for the time at which it happened.

Joel is 4 years into being more caring, more trusting, more open, and helping Tommy build a new safe society of people. They haven’t had to worry about other people much.

Why would he be the exact same man as he was before when the circumstances he’s in are completely different than they were in the first game?

I wouldnt expect them to be suspicious at all considering their encounter with Abby and her friends was probably no different than countless others they certainly had in the past 4 years of growing their community and helping survivors.

Again, it’s not like they trusted them for no reason. They saved Abby, she fought along side then both and saved them several times during combat, then the others took them in and saved them from the horde.

They had absolutely no reason to think there would be any ill will. Nor have Tommy or Joel had to be secretive of their names ever since we’ve known them. Joel didnt even know people were out to get him because he had been in a safe, peaceful place for years.

There is absolutely nothing out of character in this scene.

Regarding spending so much time as Abby:

I think playing as Abby was a very vital part of the game. For one, it expanded the world beyond the scope of Part 1, which is what a sequel should do.

2, it gives a name and a history to the people we Slaughter without hesitation, which is a huge aspect of the story.

But mainly, we as a player do all the same things as Abby that we would as Ellie. We fight tooth and nail for survival, save people, help friends, scavenge, sneak, narrowly escape, etc just like we would if we were playing as Ellie. Even if it doesn’t make us empathize with Abby, it makes us understand. Ellie and Joel are the villains in someone else’s story. They are the NPCs. They are the catalyst for an epic revenge tale of a girl who lost her dad, a doctor who was only trying to save the world. Beating Ellie was brutal, uncomfortable, and harrowing. I HATED doing it but I was supposed to hate it. And that hatred is meant to highlight a kind of hypocrisy on the players part. You are only fighting someone who had wronged you, which you had done all through the first game and most of the second as Joel and Ellie. Had it been the other way around, we would have cheered Ellie doing the same to Abby even though their stories share so many aspects.

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If we had always been Abby through both the first and second game, we would have cheered when she bashed the monster Joel’s skull in or beaten Ellie for killing her friends, even though none of the events or characters would be different.

But we are biased toward Joel and Ellie because that’s who we met first and who we came to know first. And nothing was going to shake my bias. Even after everything Ellie did that I experienced from Abby’s perspective I wanted Ellie to kill her. But that wouldnt be what was best for Ellie. And because i love Ellie so much, i love that she made the hardest decision of her life at the end of the game. She saw that Abby had picked up the pieces from the brutal hand they had both been dealt and she decided to do the same. And i think there was no better way for her to honor Joel than finally ending the cycle of violence that made her lose him. But it comes at great cost. She has to relearn how to play his song now because the music isnt the same. She has to reconcile with Dina. She has to still live knowing all the things she did. But her final decision has put her in the emotional state to finally rebuild herself and be better.

I would have LOVED if Ellie had killed Abby and returned to see she lost it all then when she tries to play the song and can’t, it would cut to black as she stares off screen just like it does now but that would be the end.

She got her revenge but at great cost. The standard “revenge is bad” ending.

As a gamer I would have loved playing through that. But as a person, and seeing Ellie as a person rather than a video game hero, I can’t say it would have been the best way. While I would have loved the bitter sweet catharsis of that ending, it wouldnt have meant as much because Ellie would not have changed. She would have lost it all but still been the same broken, lonely person.

With the ending we got she still loses as much, but she is in so much of a better position to heal and reclaim a little of what she lost. One detail I glossed over on first playthrough was how the painting Ellie did of Dina is missing from the farm house but all the other art is still in that room.

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That makes me think that she can reconcile with Dina and she will only be able to do that because the person she is now. She gave herself that chance. It was a way of showing us the door is still open and now we know that Ellie is the person she needs to be to walk through it.

The more I think about it the more I love it.

Ultimately, if you really care about Ellie you know this was the best ending for her. She condemned Joel for taking the meaning from her life with such a selfish act. We as the player selfishly wanted Ellie to have revenge, but we would have ultimately been condemning her to a life of brokenness and loneliness because she wouldn’t have changed. The best thing for Ellie, who we are supposed to want the best for, was to change. Seeing her emerge BETTER was insanely cathartic and powerful.

Outside of those main beats, there are just so many phenomenal moments. Joel singing to Ellie, his birthday gift sequence, their final insanely emotional conversation on the porch. Then Ellies relationship with Dina mmand the others made me care and want to see them get through it all. Pkaying fetch with Bear and then realizing why the name sounds familiar. Gut punch. Ellie’s reaction to killing Mel and then discovering she had been pregnant, the final fight in the shallows being brutal, emotional, and poignant, I can’t wait to play again already.

Not really looking to argue about anything or to engage in any “you’re wrong for liking or disliking the game” since the forums have been overflowing with that kind of negative combative interaction, but i would love to civilly discuss the experience as a whole.


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