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11 key takeaways from The Last of Us Part II’s State of Play presentation

Fans got an in-depth look at The Last of Us Part II during Wednesday’s State of Play. Here’s everything we learned.

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The Last of Us Part II - State of Play
Naughty Dog

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.

11. Vita lives?

Vita lives.


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Andrew King is a journalist, critic, poet, stand-up comedian and museum caretaker living in Illinois.

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New Nintendo Switch releases (September 21-25, 2020)

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and Lost Ember are among the new video games coming to the Nintendo Switch eShop this week.

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New Nintendo Switch eShop releases
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and Lost Ember are among the new video games coming to the Nintendo Switch eShop this week.

This week’s crop of new Nintendo Switch releases features some promising new indie games and a bunch of mobile ports. Let’s focus on the cool indie games.

Sci-fi sequel Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a trading and combat simulation from Double Damage Games. The first game was an ambitious, if flawed, homage to classics like Freelancer. Outlaw continues the space-Western vibe with a kicking country soundtrack, dusty trading posts, odd-ball characters, and improved dogfights. If the port is decent, this could be a gem in Switch’s library.

Another new release we’re keen to see running on Nintendo Switch is Lost Ember from Mooneye Studios. The game had some performance issues on other platforms, but if it runs well, we recommend this touching journey through a majestic and vibrant animal kingdom.

This week’s final pick is CastleStorm II from Zen Studios, the developer best known for its pinball games. Like its predecessor, Castlestorm II is a personality-packed blend of real-time action and tower defence.

Other new Nintendo Switch releases include Unrailed!, Going Under, and the Definitive Edition of fighting platformer Rivals of Aether. There’s also a new crop of games coming to the Nintendo Switch Online NES and SNES libraries.

We’ll update this article throughout the week with any late additions.

New Nintendo Switch releases: September 21-25, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

  • Worm Jazz

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  • CastleStorm II
  • Dungreed
  • Orbt XL
  • Unrailed!
  • Perky Little Things
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure
  • Vigor
  • NSO: S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team
  • NSO: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
  • NSO: Mario’s Super Picross
  • NSO: The Peace Keepers

Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Alluris
  • BIG-Bobby-Car – The Big Race
  • Breakpoint
  • Great Conqueror: Rome
  • Lost Ember
  • Micro Pico Racers
  • Going Under
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny
  • Rivals of Aether Definitive Edition
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition
  • Secrets of Me
  • This Is The Zodiac Speaking
  • Wartile

Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Jet Set Knights
  • Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia

Catch up with this week’s new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases.


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Save the Thumbsticks new releases page for regular Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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New PlayStation 4 releases (September 21-25, 2020)

Mafia: Definitive Edition tops next week’s list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Mafia: Definitive Edition tops next week’s list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

Hangar 13’s ground-up remake of Mafia is this week’s PlayStation 4 pick. The original game is not an outright classic, but it’s certainly bold and was forward-thinking in its day. The remake includes new vehicles, improved visuals and audio, and a larger city of Lost Heaven to explore.

Another highlight is the console port of Port Royale 4. Kalypso Media’s trading and strategy game depicts the 17th-century Caribbean power struggle between Spain, England, France and the Netherlands. Turn-based naval encounters are the big new feature, and each nation has a full single-player campaign to complete.

Trading is also central to Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, the new space Western sequel from Double Damage Games. Outlaw improves on its predecessor with streamlined spaceship combat, seven new radio stations, and a fun cast of bounty hunters, aliens, and intergalactic ne’er-do-wells.

Other new PS4 releases include Tennis World Tour 2, Unrailed!, and Going Under. We’ll update this article throughout the week with news of any late additions. Here’s the full lineup of new PS4 games confirmed so far.

New PlayStation4 releases: September 21-25, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

  • 3 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
  • Tennis World Tour 2

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  • CastleStorm II
  • Jet Set Knights – TBC
  • Unrailed!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Dungreed
  • Ginga Force
  • Going Under
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny

Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Mafia: Definitive Edition
  • Port Royale 4
  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia

Bookmark our new releases page for weekly updates on the latest games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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New Xbox One releases (September 21-25, 2020)

Mafia: Definitive Edition and Rebel Galaxy Outlaw headline the list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Mafia: Definitive Edition and Rebel Galaxy Outlaw headline the list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

Xbox One owners can lead a life crime next week in the eagerly anticipated remake of 2002’s Mafia. The city of Lost Heaven has never looked better, but we’re interested to see how Hangar 13 has fleshed out the experience. The addition of motorcycles is a fun place to start.

Meanwhile, players of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw can live their lives on the outer rim of law and order. This sequel from Double Damage builds upon the strong foundations of the first game with improved dogfights, an engaging story, and an even better soundtrack. If you find Elite Dangerous too overwhelming, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is an accessible blend of arcade and simulation sci-fi that scratches the same intergalactic itch.

Other new Xbox One release highlights include Port Royale 4, procedurally generated track laying game Unrailed!, and satirical dungeon crawler, Going Under. Halo ODST‘s Firefight mode is also coming to Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Tuesday.

Each new game can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store or the Microsoft web store. We’ll update this post throughout the week with any late additions to the lineup.

New Xbox One releases: September 21-25, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

  • Halo ODST: Firefight (The Master Chief Collection)
  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
  • Tennis World Tour 2

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  • CastleStorm II
  • The Drone Racing League Simulator
  • Jet Set Knights
  • Unrailed!
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure

Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Going Under
  • Little Big Workshop
  • Tears of Avia

Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Mafia: Definitive Edition
  • Nexomon: Extinction
  • Port Royale 4
  • Sentinels of Freedom
  • Shotgun Farmers
  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia

Swoop by the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest games. You can also follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Hello Games announces No Man’s Sky Origins update

No Man’s Sky is the gift that keeps on giving, from a team we don’t even deserve.

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No Mans Sky book covers
Hello Games / Thumbsticks

No Man’s Sky is the gift that keeps on giving, from a team we don’t even deserve.

Did you know that the procedurally-generated aesthetic for No Man’s Sky was based on pulpy, 70s science fiction novel covers?

(We did know, but it’s still fun to watch the video in the post linked above. For all of its “bazillion of procedurally generated planets” pitch, the aesthetic and the atmosphere of No Man’s Sky are still some of its biggest selling points, especially with the very scary Desolation update from a couple of months ago.)

As the free content updates kept coming for No Man’s Sky, each with its own science fiction cover, it built up a bigger picture: a “shelf” of those pulpy sci-fi book covers.

But when Sean Murray, of Hello Games, tweeted a picture of all the covers together following the Desolation update, it did not escape people’s notice that there was only “room” for one more cover left on that artificial bookshelf of pulpy book covers:

And with the No Man’s Sky Origins update set to be revealed next week, people have been worried that might be the last update we see for the game. The final space on the bookshelf will be filled, as it were.

But according to the blog post announcing Origins, “This update will be another small step in a longer journey.”

Perhaps Hello Games isn’t quite done with No Man’s Sky just yet.


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Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Play three cool games for free on Xbox One this weekend

This week’s lineup of Xbox One Free Play Days titles takes players to the high seas, a world destroyed by war, and a creature-infested Louisiana.

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Sea of Thieves - Xbox One

This week’s lineup of Xbox One Free Play Days titles takes players to the high seas, a world destroyed by war, and, erm, Louisiana.

Shiver me timbers, Sea of Thieves is free to play on Xbox One this weekend. Rare’s online pirate adventure was somewhat cooly received on release, but who’s cool now? A treasure chest of content and gameplay updates has helped build a thriving community of shipmates, most of whom are welcoming to new deckhands. Nonetheless, take care, there’s always someone waiting to steal a Bilge Rat Doubloon or two when your back is turned.

Players should also keep their wits about them in Hunt: Showdown, the popular PvP first-person hunting game from Crytek. Up to 12 players must venture into the dangerous swamps of Louisiana. Your task is to retrieve a bounty from a vicious creature, but once you have that bounty, friends become foes, and you become the target. Hi-jinks ensue.

Finally, Warhammer: Chaosbane is moderately fun hack-and-slash action RPG from EKO Software. If the phrase “fighting battles in the sewers of Nuln” gets your blood pumping, this game is probably for you.

All three games are playable for free until midnight on Sunday for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. As always, any earned achievements and save states carry over into purchased copies of each game. Here’s the lowdown on this week’s related digital discounts.

Xbox One Free Play Days Discounts

Hunt: Showdown

  • Standard Edition – 60% off
  • Master Hunter Edition – 50% off

Warhammer: Chaosbane

  • Standard Edition – 65% off
  • Deluxe Edition – 65% off
  • Magnus Edition – 70% off

Sea of Thieves

  • Standard Edition – 50% off

Bookmark our sales and freebies pages for the latest video game promotions. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter for daily gaming news updates

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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