The Last Of Us is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and initially released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in 2013. A Remastered version was created in 2014 for PlayStation 4 which also included a Photo Mode feature (probably one of the very first titles implementing it at the time). Its awaited sequel, The Last Of Us: Part II, arrived on PS4 in June 2020 and a third part seems to be confirmed. In fact, Neil Druckmann told Script Apart Podcast that the plot for The Last of Us: Part III is already done, but the game is not in development yet.
But that’s not all! A live action show has been produced by HBO and the shooting for Season One is now done. Plusm we are about to get a Remake of the first game for PlayStation 5 on September 2 and a PC version for it is also in the works.
The Story of The Last Of Us
Warning: This article is not SPOILER free!
When an Outbreak explodes in 2013 due to the Cordyceps fungus infecting people at an incredible speed, Joel Miller is forced to bring his daughter Sarah to safety. As he tries to escape the mutants and leave town with the help of his brother Tommy, the little girl gets shot by a soldier on patrol who had the unfortunate task of killing anyone crossing the checkpoint, infected or not.
Twenty years later, civilization has been decimated by the infection and the survivors ended up isolated in quarantine zones to prevent the spread. Joel is now working as a Smuggler with his partner Tess in the North End of Boston, hunting down a black-market dealer to recover their stolen weapons. Before killing him, Joel and Tess find out that their weapons have been traded with a group of quarantine opposers called Fireflies, but their leader Marlene eventually promises to double the cache if they manage to bring a young girl named Ellie to the Massachusetts State House outside the quarantine zone.
Joel and Tess sneak out with Ellie at night to reach their destination, but they are intercepted by a Government Patrol and tested to ensure they aren’t carrying any infection. Unfortunately, Ellie turns out to be infected and stabs one of the soldiers in a leg, initiating a fight that rapidly concludes with Tess and Joel shooting them down. According to Ellie, the bite mark on her wrist is at least three weeks old, while the symptoms normally occur within two days. Due to her miraculous immunity, she needs to be escorted outside the quarantine zone to be analyzed and possibly become the key for the development of a cure.
But, upon arriving to the State House through hordes of infected, they discover the Fireflies residing there have already been killed. Tess also reveals she’s been bitten by an infected along the way and declares it’s getting noticeably worse although she only had the bite mark for two hours. For this reason, she decides to sacrifice herself against a group of pursuing soldiers and allow Joel to keep Ellie safe for the importance of her immunity.
Throughout the game, Joel and Ellie enstablish a deep father-daughter relationship that finally allows Joel to recover from his loss. At the end of it, we find out that in order to develop a functional cure, the whole infected area around Ellie’s brain needs to be extracted for a deep examination, which means the girl would not survive the operation they want to prepare her for. Although Joel knows what is at stake with a tremendous pandemic devastating his world for twenty years, he refuses to let the girl go and kills every Firefly in the hospital just so he can get her out. But Joel knows how important this whole ordeal was to Ellie and thus he prefers to give her his own version of the story instead: there were more immune people like her at the hospital and since the Fireflies could not find a cure, they eventually stopped looking and her presence wasn’t required anymore. Ellie wants him to swear that what he said to her is true, as she was forced to witness many infected mutating and dying. Joel looks straight into her eyes and confirms that yes, it is all true.
Naughty Dog also published a DLC called Left Behind and included it in the Remastered version for PS4. The story features a prequel with Ellie and her best friend Riley before they both got bitten by the infected. At the end of TLOU1, Ellie tells Joel she and Riley decided to “lose their mind together”, but she is still waiting for her turn while her friend did in fact mutate.
The Last Of Us Part II directly connects to the final events of the first game and although it is set four years after that point, we get different flashbacks explaining what Joel and Ellie did up to that moment and also how Ellie discovered physical proof of Joel’s lies. Since the very beginning it’s clear their relationship is strained and although the reason for that is not revealed until later, it’s not difficult to figure out what happened between them.
A new female character, Abby Anderson, is introduced in this chapter as playable and she actually has a very important role into the whole story. Despite an initial curiosity, players have started to dislike her when they saw this unknown muscular woman torturing Joel and taking his life, without knowing the real motive behind such a savage gesture. In this second game Ellie becomes the main protagonist alongside Abby while the story takes a much darker, more tragic tone. The fans have speculated over Joel being dead since the very first teaser trailer published in 2016, when they saw the way Joel was walking around. People mentioned the possibility of him getting infected too, or they assumed the man wasn’t really there and Ellie was just speaking to his ghost. In a way, they were right when they said she wanted to “kill them all” to avenge Joel. This scene is not present in the game.
Another strange fact could be seen in the other trailers, with Joel appearing there with Ellie when in reality the scene plays between the girl and her best friend Jesse. Also, They made us believe the person dying in the game would be Dina, Ellie’s love interest. People slowly abandoned the idea of seeing Joel go, thanks to Naughty Dog’s clever actions. Even the scenes taken from the flashbacks appeared as in the present timeline with the wrong clothes and hairstyles, giving off the impression that Joel would in fact be a part of the story.
As sad and painful as it might be, Joel unfortunately brought this upon himself and is this is the main, recurring theme in The Last Of Us Part II. There is no hero and no villain, everyone can be liked and everyone can make big mistakes. In a world where you have to fight for your live every single day, losing someone you love can seriously put your endurance to the test.
Since Ellie is present at the time and sees her father-figure getting killed in front of her eyes, she begins her long quest for revenge following the woman’s trace and killing anyone associated to her solely to know Abby’s whereabouts. As it turns out, Abby is the daughter of the lead surgeon in charge of Ellie’s operation, killed by Joel in that hospital. Since the day she found her father’s dead body in a pool of blood, she could no longer have a good night sleep, nor live without obsessing over what the man did. Her main goal was to find him no matter what and this inevitably ruined her romantic relationship, pushing her lover Owen into another woman’s arms.
Ellie and Abby are essentially different sides of the same coin, using their loss as an excuse to shed blood. Part II is literally an endless loop of consequences generated by wrong choices; Joel killed Abby’s father and the other Fireflies in the first game, only because he didn’t want to give up on Ellie after already losing his daughter. As a result, an older Abby smashed his head with a baseball bat to get the closure she wanted after what he’s taken away from her, only to realize that the pain didn’t go away and she was even more miserable than before.
Then, consequentially, Ellie became exactly like Abby (if not worse) to avange Joel’s death, massacring and even torturing her friends, shooting Abby’s loved one and stabbing his pregnant partner at the same time (she didn’t know about her pregnancy, until she noticed the big bump hidden under the woman’s jacket. But it is too late). A very important thing to mention is that Ellie already knew why Abby killed Joel, since she went back to the hospital and retrieved recorded proof of what the man did there and received a direct confession from him. And yet, she decided to continue with her killing mission despite all that, even if Abby was only after one man (Joel) and Ellie took the life of many to get to her.
After an aggressive confrontation with Abby that had Ellie badly inured, she can finally settle down in the Countryside with her girlfriend Dina and her son for a while. Despite such a lovely and peaceful lifestyle, she has to deal with a developed PTSD, the lack of sleep and appetite. She’s still consumed by her hatred and the strong desire to put an end to Abby’s life, unable to erase Joel’s bloody face from her mind. Abby, on the other hand, spared her life twice although she lost everyone she cared about by Ellie’s hand, then found hope again thanks to her new protege Lev and the contact she enstablished with a few Fireflies regrouping in Catalina Island. Unfortunately, a group of slavers known as Rattlers kidnap the two before they can leave Santa Barbara.
As soon as Tommy reveals Abby’s location while she is held captive and enslaved, Ellie takes that chance to seek her out one final time even if it means she will lose her family in the process. Eventually, all the prisoners beak free and Ellie finds herself in front of Abby again, but not in the way she was expecting. She is tied to a wooden pillar on the beach, visibly undernourished and with no strength left to fight. In that moment, Ellie cuts the ropes to take her down although she could easily let her die slowly and painfully where she was. She keeps her distance as Abby carries Lev betwen her arms and kindly informs Ellie about some boats on the shore they could take to leave the Island. However, Ellie is still dealing with mental flashes of Joel’s face and she absolutely cannot let Abby go. Although the woman is tired and clearly not willing to fight with her again, Ellie threatens to cut Lev’s throat if she doesn’t, saying she made him a part of it all even if Abby didn’t want to get the young boy involved in their conflict. She has no choice but to accept Ellie’s challenge and a violent one-on-one fight takes place in the water. Ellie is armed with a knife and Abby can only use her own fists to attack and protect herself (despite the huge weight loss she went through). At this point, their confrontation is only a desperate attempt to find satisfaction and relief on one side and to mainly survive the fight on the other. As Ellie tries to drown Abby pushing her into the ocean water, the woman bits her ring finger and pinky off. But the pain is not enough to stop Ellie (without considering the severe injury she was already suffering from due to a trap she accidentally activated at her arrival) and she uses her body to keep Abby’s head and body pinned down. Her opponent is about to lose, suffocating and struggling to stay alive. It appears that Ellie is finally going to get what she wanted for a very long time, until another image flashes into her mind and for once it is completely different from what she used to see. Joel is sitting in the porch, smiling at her under the night sky and playing his guitar. He looks well and at peace, no longer like the bloody mess she last saw on that old wooden floor. This is what triggers the final realization and she releases her grip at the very last minute. Abby breathes hard and coughs water, Ellie sits down, crying and holding her bleeding fingers.
She tells Abby to leave at once and take Lev away from that place, inplying she doesn’t want him to end like her, suffering from the same loss and desire for revenge. She understood the cycle needed to end and was strong enough to let it go in time.
In the final cutscene, Ellie finds the farm she shared with Dina completely empty and abandoned, the fear of being alone from the first game has now come true. There is an important detail regarding the loss of her fingers too; Joel has taught her to play the guitar and in the game players can find this instrument in a few places, including that house since it was in fact Joel’s guitar gifted to Ellie. She could interact with it as a way to remember Joel, but sadly she can no longer play in tune now due to the missing fingers that can’t touch the right cords. Without that remaining connection to him, Ellie can only put the guitar back to rest. That gesture is an evident conclusion of her despair for Joel’s death too, she’s now going to move on as nothing else remains to do.
We may think this story is purely about vengeance, but in reality, it is more about forgiveness and understanding what truly matters when there is so much at risk. There is one last flashback at this time that shows a heartbreaking dialogue between Ellie and Joel, when things between them were already cracked. The scene Ellie saw before sparing Abby was just a fraction of that night, when she explained to Joel that her life would have mattered if she could have sacrificed herself to stop the infection. She also told him she could hardly forgive him for taking this away from her, but she wanted to at least try. What truly has been bothering Ellie this whole time is the fact Joel died before she could truly forgive him and share with him the love he truly deserved. A lot of things have been left untold.
The irony of this? If Ellie had decided to stay with Dina, Abby and Lev would have died on those pillars outside the prison.
Once we beat the game, the start menu switches to a different atmosphere. For the entire game we could only see a boat parked on the shore and a thick fog covering the scene in front of it. It looks extremely similar to the place Ellie and Abby escaped from after their fight, but it might actually be a clue for Part III. The new screen seems to portray the same environment indeed, with the fog completely gone and a beautiful sunset. But there also is a distant dome that looks like the Catalina Casino, large gathering facility located in Avalon (Santa Catalina Island). Before Abby and Lev got ambushed by the Rattlers, they managed to speak with a Firefly who instructed them to reach Catalina Island and to “approach the large domed building in Avalon”. The boat could mean that Abby and Lev effectively made it and they will join the regrouping Fireflies. It would be curious to know if the place has been the same from the very beginning, or if the foggy one was indeed the boss area, since Abby and Lev took off from there.
There was a debate online where people believed the call was just a trap set by the Rattlers and that what the man said on the speaker was all fake as he pretended to be a Firefly. The Rattlers also had a round home base, but there is in fact another dome in Avalon and that is the Catalina Casino. It is possible that Naughty Dog intentionally tried to generate confusion (again 😁), misleading the players until the new start menu.
The reason why my summary for Part II is so long despite cutting a huge portion and leaving a bunch of characters and details out, is because of how big the story really is. It’s hard to put this game into words, the emotions it gave me are indescribable and even the new Infected were making me extremely anxious (Rat King, anyone?). I can see why this story is so appreciated all over the world and why they felt like giving Part I a complete makeover. I can only be hyped for Part III although it most likely won’t come out before 2024-25.
Curious fact: The Cordyceps fungus actually exists in real life. It is particularly abundant and diverse in tropical forests, it has a worldwide distribution with over 600 species and it generally attacks insects. The fungus we see in TLOU is obviously just a fictional mutation of it.
The Last Of Us Remake
The Last Of Us Remake is essentially the same game from 2013, but renamed as Part I to match with the sequel and with a few modifications that make this old game appear new. From the trailer we can see that the entire visuals have been enhanced with modern technology, the models look a lot more detailed and show the same quality Part II has. The facial animations have also improved and Naughty Dog has announced that the controls will be better with expanded accessibility options. The game will even have 3D Audio, haptics, and adaptive triggers.
The game will also come out with different editions: The Last of Us Part I Standard Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition and the Firefly Edition.
The Left Behind DLC will also be included in this remade version of the first game.
Although a PC version has been confirmed, there isn’t any official news about it yet. Considering how great the game looks with the new improvements on PS5, we can only imagine how breathtaking it’s going to be on gaming computers.
I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the price this Remake is getting, which is the same as any other newly released game. I understand why it might look like a bad move, but in this case I can totally justify it and it’s going to be absolutely worth it especially if you are a PC gamer at most just like myself.
Note: On Naughty Dog’s official blog we can find some minor informations about a standalone Multiplayer. Since The Last of Us Factions’ release around ten years ago, people have been hoping for more. They are now going to deliver something large that goes well beyond a simple mode, but we most likely won’t get any official news until next year.
Update: The PC version of Tha Last Of Us: Part I will be released on March 3rd, 2023.
The Last Of Us Part II on PC?
Before the release of Part II on console, rumors mentioned the possibility of seeing a PC porting as well. Although Naughty Dog confirmed it would only be a Sony exclusive (and in fact there’s no PC version available for it), more rumors about it have started to spread again last year from leaker CrazyLeaksOnATrain (who said the game will support the latest Nvidia DLSS technology). With other PlayStation exclusives such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Detroit Become Human coming to PC, people have wondered if other titles like Uncharted and The Last Of Us will eventually have the same fate. Up to this day there’s no real confirmation about a porting for TLOU2, but the thing is that Instant Gaming has a dedicated page for it and says it will come in 2023 (it’s been there for a long time though and it initially said 2021, then 2022, now it’s been updated again, so I would probably take it with a grain of salt). Considering these rumors have been out there for quite a while now, it certainly makes us wonder if there might be a fund of truth. CrazyLeaksOnATrain said it would be released at the end of 2021 and as we know that never happened. Maybe the leak he posted was about the remake porting and not the second chapter? Still, with the first game being developed also for PC, it would only make sense to eventually do the same with its sequel.
The Last Of Us HBO Live Action
Now that the filming for this show has come to an end, we can only wait for the first episode to be released. Season One will not come out before 2023 and it’s been written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Judging by the few photos and videos posted online on Twitter and TikTok, we can already expect a lot of similarities with the game although it won’t be a perfect copy. While live actions based on video games have rarely been satisfying for all their differences or just a poor execution, we all have high hopes and expectations for The Last Of Us considering the great casting and Neil Druckmann as writer again.
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, the talented voice actors behind Joel and Ellie in the games, will also have a role into the HBO show, which can only be another good sign of its greatness. One thing many fans cannot wait to see is how the infected will look in this real life adaptation. Surely they will be incredibly detailed, gross and terrifying!