The action survival horror game that took the world by storm, The Last of Us, is back with Part II! The Ellie we love is grown up, keeping her sharp tongue and her ass-kicking abilities! We got the Southeast Asia exclusive hands-on experience with The Last of Us Part II in Los Angeles! If you want to read our interview with the game’s co-writer Halley Gross, you can read it here!
We enter the story 25 years after Outbreak day, with Part II being set 5 years after The Last of Us. Ellie’s able to live somewhat normally, have a girlfriend, the sort of thing. An incident happens – we did not manage to witness this in the demo – and Ellie begins her journey for revenge, and justice. As a side note, Part II is not open-world, nor will it have multiplayer.
There’s many improvements from the previous title. Enemy AI has become smarter, with better aim and be able to dodge headshots if you’re close enough for them to spot. Ellie is, of course, smaller than Joel, with faster melee attacks. Her size does mean enemies will be able to overpower her, blocking her attacks and shoving her away. There are new actions:
- Prone: A crawling motion, to be able to hide better within the tall grass
- Dodge: Extremely important for combat. You’ll need to take full advantage of this to avoid damage. Move out of the way or die instead of doing a mindless button mash.
On top of the AI improvements, the enemies will be able to shout out your location and communicate with their allies. They’ll also call out coordinated attacks. As described by co-writer, Halley Gross’ interview with us, enemies will also be able to gather round a fallen teammate and refer to them by name, humanizing them. Each enemy has their own name, and their allies will sound their anger or sorrow.
Combat animations have improved. Death animations, finishers are in, in much greater variety. Melee killing an enemy who is also using a melee weapon sees you grab their weapon, and using it against them! The demo had Ellie be pitted against the Washington Liberation Front, the WLF or WOLVES, whichever you prefer, revealed for the first time here.
Human enemies can be accompanied by combat dogs, which can pick up your scent if you are too close. Scents also leave a trail which the dogs can track. They’ll be following until they find you. Scent trails can dissipate over time, though for now, there are no ways for you to remove the trail yourself. Running can help you get further and force them to not track you too far, but you’ll also be more easily noticed by enemies. Stay, and the dogs will find you.
Needless to say, these combat dogs are agile, and will be dashing at you to bite in open combat. You’ll need time to shake them off if you get bitten, and their human ally will be free to shoot at you. The dogs can die easily in a hit or two in melee, but should you encounter multiple human/dog pairs, this can be extremely deadly! The chase of the combat dogs will give that adrenaline rush as you try to lose them, forcing you out of your comfort zone. If you kill the dog’s handler with like a bow or silenced weapon, you can make the dog pause as they look at their dead human. It’s either you or them in this world.
We encountered a new infected, known as the Shambler. They’re quite slow moving, and can spot you should you try to stay still to avoid them. Only Runners and Stalkers from the previous game had sight, if you may recall. Shamblers primarily attack with spores and don’t seem to have much health, likely less than Bloaters.
With the ability to go prone, you now have more options for stealth. Ellie also has more areas in which to hide. With the larger areas in the game, you can shake off pursuit by hiding in grass or behind cover. The bow remains an option to kill silently, with arrows craftable to you. A new Silencer attachment is available – currently only for pistols – which will break after 3 uses (5 if upgraded).
In the demo, we tried out the shotgun, rifle, bow, pistol and revolver weapons. Upgrading them is easier now, with a cooler upgrade table and being able to see the upgrade animations. Watch as parts get taken out, added, and reassembled as you upgrade! It would seem you’ll only be needing the necessary parts this time, without tools. Most upgrades can also only be done once.
There are skill trees in the game. Among them are:
- Listening mode movement speed (faster movement in listen mode)
- Health kit speed (use health kits faster)
- Throw distance (throw farther when aiming, and be able to lock-on enemies with quick throw from longer range)
- Increased health
- A locked skill we didn’t get to in the demo
- Crafting melee weapons
- Upgrade melee weapons
- Restore durability
- Increase damage
- Crafting speed increase
- Stun bombs
- Upgrade to smoke bombs to reduce enemy visibilty
- Increase amount of smoke bombs made (e.g. two instead of one from the same ingredient)
- Crafting silencers (attach to the barrel of the pistol to make the next 3 shots silent)
- Listen mode clarity (enemies show up better in listen mode)
- Prone movement speed (crawl faster on the ground)
- Silencer durability (increase to 5 shots)
- Faster stealth kills (also helps in keeping lower profile)
- Aimed weapon sway (reduce weapon sway when moving)
- Aiming speed (move faster while aiming)
- Listen mode range (extends range)
- Hold Breath to steady aim
- A locked skill
These skills could also be subject to change in the full game.
In The Last of Us, players could pick and choose whichever skills they wanted to upgrade. Now, you have to follow the skill tree, so accessing Hold Breath would require starting from Aimed Weapon Sway onwards. Listen Mode is available in all skill trees.
From the demo, we can feel Part II keeps the story front and center like its predecessor, humanizing each and every character, including the enemies. The story promises to be amazing, with character expressions even further improved from the previous game that it’s practically on a whole new level. You’ll be seeing returning characters, Ellie notwithstanding, having to fight their way in a bigger, badder world. Experience the thrill of being chased when you realize the dogs have your scent. Get pushed out of your comfort zone!
From enemy takedowns to new story beats you’ll be encountering, Part II expands and adds on even more in a larger world, to what we already had from The Last of Us. Incidentally, we found a PS3 and copies of Uncharted 2 and 3 in Eugene’s house in the demo! With the better graphics, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to make more of these finds in a grim, but still beautiful, world.
Look forward to The Last of Us Part II when it releases 21 February 2020.