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The Last of Us Multiplayer Impressions

June 3, 2013 Written by Anthony Severino

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For a game with as much hype and as big a spotlight shining on it as The Last of Us, it’s incredibly odd that only a week or so before the game hits store shelves is the curtain being pulled back on the game’s multiplayer mode. It’s even more fascinating yet, that with a global review embargo lifting in just two days’ time, an already taxed for time editor like myself (with E3 quickly approaching) is depleting his stock of words—of thoughts—to preview the game’s multiplayer. To truly find out the reasoning behind this course of action, you’ll have to tune back in to PlayStation LifeStyle on June 5th at 7AM PDT/10AM EDT. But for now, this is Factions mode in The Last of Us.

Strength in numbers. Survival of the fittest. You’ve heard these terms used before, but have you ever really had to put these old adages to task? In The Last of Us Factions mode, these are the words you’ll live and die by.

It’s a couple decades after the initial Cordyceps outbreak, and the population has been decimated. If you’re not infected, you’re left fighting for scraps to survive. And unfortunately for you, there are many others fighting for those same resources. Banding together with other like-minded survivors gives you the strength in numbers you need to survive, but ensuring you’re the most fit for the tasks at hand yourself is still the best way to stay alive. And the best way to take the lives of those that seek to take yours.

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Whether you decide to roll with the Fireflies or the Hunters matters little. What ultimately holds more weight is how hard you fight to keep your clan healthy by securing supplies, and so you come out of each situation unscathed and still breathing.

Factions, the multiplayer portion of The Last of Us is split into only two modes—and that’s all that’s really necessary. Supply Raid and Survivors. Both play very similarly, but with a few minor tweaks that drastically affect the approach you might take to survive.

Supply Raid is exactly what it sounds like it is. You and a team of survivors must survey an area to gather supplies—both for you and your arsenal, and to feed and nourish the sick and unhealthy members of your faction or clan. Strewn about each map—well-designed for staying hidden and attacking using stealthy tactics—are supply chests. They’re usually out in the open, making you a sitting duck if an onlooker wielding a lit Molotov happens to be eying that same chest. But each chest contains supplies vital for your clan’s survival, and yours alone.

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Aside from the few bullets you begin each round with, locating and securing supplies are the only means to craft health kits to heal you, bombs to take out targets, or to upgrade a melee weapon to be more effective. Each chest also contains parts, which become a currency of sorts to purchase more bullets or better weapons. And with how scarce bullets are, and how quickly you can empty a clip, scavenging these supplies is necessary to surviving a match. Crafting takes downtime, so teamwork becomes vital so you have someone watching your back and protecting your neck while you get to work. This is strength in numbers.

In Survival Raid, there is a set number of lives you either have to take or lose for a winning faction to be chosen, and you will continue to respawn until that number is met on either side. Between respawns, supplies carry over, so fret not if you were shot in the back while crafting a nail bomb; revenge will be yours.

Survivors mode is more survival of the fittest, although teamwork can be a factor in this mode, too. What matters most here, though, is being the last one standing at the end of the match. This means killing everyone else around you to get supplies, because it’s not just chests the hold supplies—the freshly fallen corpses of others do too. And you have to kill to take them. It’s them or you.

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If you are killed, or just wounded (this is my favorite part), there’s anywhere between a few to as much as twenty seconds before you are executed, revived, or you bleed out. In these twenty seconds, though, you don’t just lie on the ground hoping someone comes along to save you or put you out of your misery to respawn. Instead you frantically scramble along the ground, desperately trying to flee from a brutal execution, or to get over to your teammates so they can patch you up. It really adds to the feeling of panic and survival, and gives a sense of finality to the last moments before dying.

Survivors mode is a best of seven rounds format. The supplies go to the team that can win four of the seven rounds by having the last man, or men, standing at the end of the match. There’s not respawning, so using what supplies you do find and are able to craft should be part of the plan each and every round. So should buying up all the weaponry and ammo you can in between rounds to give you the competitive edge.

As with any robust multiplayer offering, winning and performing individual tasks during gameplay unlock points to use to bolster your player, modify his look, and customize your loadout. One time use boosters grant single match abilities, while other boosts are there to stay. Finding out your own play style and customizing your boosts and abilities is paramount for long-term longevity as both a Faction and as a survivor.

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The gameplay focuses on stealth, mainly, although the only reason why you shouldn’t go into a situation guns blazing, is that there’s a risk you could be killed too. You can do it, though—should you choose to take that risk. It all compliments the gameplay from the single player mode extremely well. As any tasty side dish might compliment the main course. But multiplayer Factions mode is a delicious side dish you’ll keep coming back for and could easily fill up on, and be satisfied with completely and independently from the entrée.

After days of fletcherizing, I’m still digesting. But I’ll be ready to spill my guts on The Last of Us in my full review, scheduled to go live the moment the global embargo lifts on June 5th. Only 48 hours and counting.