Fight or flight. The instinct to survive is ingrained into our very existence. And this instinct is Joel and Ellie’s most useful tool in The Last of Us.
Much of the game is knowing when to attack—either full-on, or stealthily—or run for your life. The other part, is about scavenging for tools, supplies, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Even at an Easy difficulty, The Last of Us is unforgiving, because if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings at all time—be it enemies or finding the right supplies to approach a situation correctly—you will surely die.
Recently, I got my hands on an updated preview build featuring Lincoln and Pittsburgh, far from Boston where the journey first begins. This demo introduces a supporting character, Bill, whose welcome isn’t all that warm given the fact that he’s a friend of Joel’s. It also further explores using supplies, this time not to craft items, but to allow Joel to upgrade his weapons.
If crafting new melee weapons, Molotov cocktails, and health items weren’t enough, Joel can use tools he finds along the way with various parts to upgrade weapons to bolster reload speed or ammo capacity. This aspect further enforces the need to explore and scavenge, or risk being too underpowered and thus, easily overwhelmed by advancing enemies.
Being overwhelmed is common, as clickers are extremely powerful and strike fear into your heart, and with their mid-way infected state of barely human being intelligent enough to trap and flank you as they tend to travel in packs. They’re looking to survive just as much as you are, and will kill or be killed just as you would. This means that they’re going to come at you with everything they have, and nothing less.
In one segment, Joel gets his leg caught in one of Bill’s many traps (thanks, Bill), and is strung upside down hanging from the ceiling while Ellie attempts to—very slowly—cut the rope of the counterweight that’s holding Joel in place. All this, while a swarm of infected scurry over a fence and into this abandoned garage and begin attacking both Joel and Ellie separately. Needless to say, it’s an intense situation choosing to save Ellie or yourself, and you’ll likely fail at one or the other at least once—especially because you’re emptying rounds into infected all while hanging and swaying upside-down. The seconds drag on between reloads almost as painfully as the clickers tearing at Joel’s flesh.
This is just one of many choices to be made during tense situations of life or death that’ll be found all throughout The Last of Us. Will you survive when The Last of Us hits store shelves on June 14th? I still have a lot more to say about The Last of Us, but I’ll be saving that for our review of the game which you can expect in the coming weeks. For now, check out my more in-depth preview of the Boston demo, or my preview from E3 2012.