Fans got an in-depth look at The Last of Us Part II during Wednesday’s State of Play. Here’s everything we learned.
A few weeks ago, Sony showed off an 18-minute glimpse of Ghost of Tsushima’s combat, open-world exploration and photo mode. And, on Wednesday, the publisher’s other remaining PS4 exclusive got the same treatment, as creative director Neil Druckmann took an online audience on a guided tour through the mechanics of Naughty Dog’s upcoming stealth game.
There was a lot to take in, and eagle-eyed viewers will certainly notice things that we missed. But, for now, here are 11 big takeaways from Wednesday’s State of Play.
1. Sneaking in Seattle
Much of The Last of Us Part II will take place in and around Seattle. Two factions are currently vying for control of the former quarantine zone.
The Washington Liberation Front (WLF) is a militia that began as an opposing force to the military occupying the city. The Seraphites, or Scars, are those religious fanatics from the hyper-violent trailer Naughty Dog put out a few years ago.
Ellie will fight both, but each has distinct characteristics. The WLF has guard dogs (more on that later) and the Scars are silent, stealth-focused killers.
2. New traversal abilities in The Last of Us Part II
In addition to being able to jump and clamber over objects, Ellie can use ropes to climb and swing over gaps. Naughty Dog has imported this mechanic after introducing it in Uncharted 4 and developing it further in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Druckmann emphasised that The Last of Us Part IIi s the biggest and most ambitious game that Naughty Dog has developed, and said that players will need to make use of ropes to “discover new areas, resources and side narratives.”
3. By land or by sea
Because The Last of Us Part II features the largest environments that Naughty Dog has created, they’ve introduced a few options to help make traversing all that land a less daunting prospect. In addition to the horse that we’ve seen Ellie riding in trailers, our heroine will also be able to travel on the water, via motorboat.
4. Ellie swims now?
Ellie need not fear the open water because, in the several years since the first game, she’s apparently learned to swim. That’s a change from The Last of Us in which Joel spent a decent amount of time searching for pallets to ferry Ellie across flooded areas. [I’m replaying it right now and I’d forgotten just how frequently that particular “puzzle” came up – Ed.]
5. More stealth options… and obstacles in The Last of Us Part II
Naughty Dog has introduced a few new options that will hopefully allow players to never stop sneakin’. The most significant? The addition of tall grass, which Ellie can crawl through to avoid alerting enemies. But, Druckmann described this technique as “analogue stealth,” and noted that enemies will be able to spot Ellie if they get close enough. Additionally, Ellie can shatter glass and shimmy through windows or crawl through tight spaces.
The bad news is: some of Ellie’s enemies make use of trained guard dogs.
Skip down to 6 if you don’t want to read about something bad happening to a dog.
Ellie even throws a molotov cocktail at a pooch during the demo. These canine opponents can smell you if they get close enough. So, in addition to sightlines and noise levels, you’ll also need to consider your scent.
6. Seamless transitions in The Last of Us Part II
Taking a page out of Sony Santa Monica’s book, The Last of Us Part II seamlessly transitions from gameplay to cutscenes. While Naughty Dog still uses the familiar shot-reverse-shot camera angles, it looks like they’ve studied up on God of War.
7. Warring factions
The Last of Us Part II brings back the best mechanic Naughty Dog introduced in The Last of Us’ DLC. In Left Behind, Ellie could pit zombies and humans against each other, thinning the herd for an eventual attack or using the commotion as a distraction. In The Last of Us Part II, Ellie can use the same trick, stirring up fights among the WLF, Scars and infected.
8 The Last of Us Part II introduces new infected
Part II will introduce multiple new varieties of infected. The only one that Naughty Dog showed off this time around are the Shamblers. These miserable wretches are covered in armour-like pustules and emit a noxious gas if you get too close. They seem like a smaller, speedier version of the first game’s Bloaters.
9. Upgrading weapons
In The Last of Us, you could upgrade your weapons at workbenches that you found along the way. That’s still the case in Part II, but now upgrades will require specific, scavenged parts. These upgrades won’t just affect stats, but will also appear on your weapon.
10. Combat ready
When Ellie does decide to break stealth, she’ll have a few new options at her disposal. Most significantly, Ellie will have a choice between executing enemies or using them as human shields. All of this looks extremely fluid in the trailers that Naughty Dog has shown, and I’m interested to see if it always looks that good in-game.
Additionally, Ellie will sometimes have AI companions by her side who will be helpful in combat. When you’re forced to go it alone, though, you can always chuck a throwable item at an enemy’s face to stun them.