I just played through The Last of Us in one sitting. Was that smart? Of course not.

Posted by whatisdelicious (1288 posts) -

In the Quick Look for The Last of Us, @patrickklepek recommended not playing the game in huge chunks because it's so emotionally draining. That's nice and all, but I live with three girls who love to talk over movies and games, and I was not about to deal with that with The Last of Us, so the minute I knew none of them would be home, I did exactly that.

I burned through the whole game in one 14-hour sitting. I do not recommend it.

By the end, yeah, I was pretty drained. The surprising thing is that it had nothing to do with how dark the tone was. It was because the combat got tiring.

There is way, way too much combat in this game.

Just like Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog still hasn't learned that it's not enough to just call out the fact that you're killing an insane amount of dudes in a game; you have to actually do something about it. This game would've been way better if they'd kept the number of combat sequences in check because there's a lot of unnecessary fights that are literally just there because you haven't killed anybody in 15 minutes so here's 50 dudes to murder (the best example is the power plant).

So instead of making you fight hordes of dudes like literally every other third-person shooter on the market, they should've tried to limit it so that even three or four enemies feels really dangerous. Sure enough, in the early parts of the game, three or four enemies is really dangerous, but that's because you only had like, a revolver with three bullets, a 9mm with five bullets, one medkit, and a brick. The problem is that then they too easily give in to the temptation of giving you more, more, more in terms of weapons and supplies. Like, a flamethrower? Seriously? Come on. It would've been way cooler if you only had like three or four kind of crappy guns to choose from throughout the whole game, or even if they had the same number of guns as they do currently but you can't fit them all in your backpack. Seriously, is Joel like Merlin or something?

And don't get me started on all the one-hit kill enemies or the maddening inconsistency of how sensitive enemies are to noise.

So for me, it wasn't really the aspect that it was a very bleak game that made my one-sitting playthrough so draining; it's that Naughty Dog is king at designing combat that's always so close to being perfect but still have no clue what "less is more" really means.

That said, I actually really loved the bleak, no compromise nature of the story. The ending is really polarizing and I fall squarely on the "I didn't like it" side of things, but pretty much everything leading up to that is incredible from a story standpoint. That intro? Oh my god. That intro. Not since Up has a prologue been that affecting. Excellent characterization, genuinely great writing, fantastic atmosphere. Such an awesome game. I'd love to see a PS4-enhanced Game of the Year port or something.

But yeah. Play it in chunks. My second playthrough is definitely going to be in shorter chunks.

#1 Posted by Jeust (10857 posts) -

My second playthrough is definitely going to be in shorter chunks.

They can't get any longer. ahah

Nice to know you liked it. I'm going to play it when I have less of a backlog.

#2 Edited by Reisz (1527 posts) -

Oh man, I can't even imagine. I'm playing through on hard and the combat is definitely a sticking point, I'd bet after 14 straight hours of a few big battles an hour I'd feel the same way.

#3 Edited by Fredchuckdave (6138 posts) -

If you only played it 14 hours you must've missed out on all kinds of awesome incidental dialogue and I feel sorry for you as a result. Games' great, marathon or no, Patrick even seems to be relatively skilled at it in the QL so it must be somewhat accessible.

#4 Edited by whatisdelicious (1288 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I mean, it's probably impossible to hear all of that in one go anyway, so it'll be cool to hear new stuff in subsequent playthroughs, kind of like BioShock Infinite or something. I definitely didn't rush through it, though I did not hunt for the collectibles or anything like that, so I missed any dialogue related to that stuff. I just hate hunting for collectibles in anything but open-world games like inFamous, Assassin's Creed, and Batman.

Oh, and yeah, Patrick does seem pretty good at it. Our styles seem pretty similar. Lots of movement. But the game forces you to get good at it or else you will just die.

@reisz: Yeahhhh. Usually the stuff that started to really great were sections that forced combat rather than giving you the option to sneak through (or at least just cut my losses and fucking bail with enemies in pursuit, which is usually my favorite strategy in games that offer that option) and anything involving a Bloater. I really, really hated those things. So how do they make it harder? I played on normal. Is it as simple as "enemies are more powerful and you have fewer resources"?

#5 Edited by Reisz (1527 posts) -

@whatisdelicious: Honestly I couldn't tell you, I am on my first play-through so I have no reference point, I imagine there is a difference in melee attack damage as it take about eight hits to take down an alerted runner/bandit, the stealth take downs are a little finicky, I have tried for a stealth choke and got a full alert head stomp multiple times.

I imagine it's mostly in resources and enemy count, for reference I have just gotten out of the library and have so far only acquired enough resources to make and use six shivs, that first bloater was ridiculous too, twelve shotgun, five revolver and eleven handgun rounds to take it down and even then Bill got the last shot. getting through the library was tough actually, it looked like just two groups of three bandits but I ended up taking down at least ten in total.

I'm hoarding ammo like mad but I never have enough to feel safe, I'm basically saving it all for the next bloater.

#6 Posted by whatisdelicious (1288 posts) -

@reisz: I think the stealth takedown thing is just a flaw in how they handle stealth because I got that too. I'm pretty sure what happens is that the enemy noticed you (walking up too quickly, turned at the wrong time, etc.) and goes into an alerted state, which puts Joel in a high-profile combat state, all in the split-second moment just before you tapped the takedown button, so he ends up stomping some face and alerting everybody.

Still not sure whether I'd rather play it on Normal+ or Survival now. It'd be kind of nice to be able to just be super mobile and way bolder with the combat on Normal+, but then again, by the end of the game, especially in the last combat scenario, I started really getting creative simply because the scenarios demanded I try new tactics and I had to work with what I had. Might be cool to apply that to the rest of the game with Survival and turn off listen mode. At the same time, I'm pretty sure it'll be pretty frustrating to do that, especially if I can't bail myself with melee if they really do take like eight hits. Melee taking about five hits or so on Normal really saved me in some spots (where I probably deserved to die, honestly).

But yeah. Those Bloaters, man.

#7 Edited by Klei (1768 posts) -

@whatisdelicious I disagree with you on the fights. I never had - any - problem killing dudes in Uncharted. I'm playing an action game; i want to kill dudes. Same goes with Last of Us. I found that every encounter had its place and felt real. The game constantly renew itself and offers you new tools and weapons to toy with. If I want to stealth and pass right by my foes, I often can. Sure, sometimes I have to clear a room ( like when Joel separates himself from Ellie ) but most of the time, I can just breeze by. I also like that most of the time, I am not forced into stealth. Stealth is a choice, and often turns sour. And as it should! Joel is no Sam Fischer. And I like that I always have something around to help me out. A brick to toss, a molotov, a shrapnel bomb, a couple of shotgun bullets and so on. I also love how the bow works; if you manage to get a headshot, it is not only stealthy, but you can retrieve your arrow, which opens a whole new way to take out guys silently.

#8 Posted by granderojo (1792 posts) -

It took me about 14 hours as well. But I just had a 12 hr chunk. I wrote about my thoughts here.

#9 Posted by The_tato (70 posts) -

I think there is probably an estimated hour mark they are shooting for when they look at how many encounters to put into the game. TLOU doesn't focus as much on path navigation as Uncharted did. And, as its linear, they cant really give you a lot of collecting or exploring to do to pad the time. So i think they found what they felt worked best about the game, gave you multiple ways to approach those situations and filled a rough time estimate with as many of those as would fit. Maybe that's cynical in a way, but the time/money argument gets brought up often enough that enough people must care about it at least to some degree. They can't bank wholly on multiplayer being the draw, so they have to really sell a long, interesting, enjoyable single player. I'm sorry to hear it dragged for you though.

#10 Edited by whatisdelicious (1288 posts) -

@klei: In part I meant from a thematic perspective. Uncharted, at its heart, was about adventuring, not murdering. I felt like The Last of Us, at its heart, was about avoiding conflict, not engaging in it. Both point out the absurd number of dudes your character has killed over the course of the game as a negative, but neither resist the temptation to throw all those dudes at you to be a fun action game. And in part I meant from a gameplay perspective of "I don't want to fight dudes right now; I just want to keep experiencing the world and the story" much the same way that a lot of people felt about BioShock Infinite.

@the_tato: I'd say you're probably right. Some of the fights really just felt like padding in the grand scheme of things. A lot of them add nothing to the story but extra playtime. Which I understand. A lot of people equate "length" to "value," which I'm wholeheartedly against. But for a game as long as The Last of Us, I'm actually surprised at how little needles padding there was, which is, of course, precisely why the moments when it does stretch stick out so much. Like the power plant where bandits attack for no reason, at the most predictable time, and have no effect on the story. But oh well. I still love the game.

#11 Edited by Random45 (1279 posts) -

If you only played it 14 hours you must've missed out on all kinds of awesome incidental dialogue and I feel sorry for you as a result. Games' great, marathon or no, Patrick even seems to be relatively skilled at it in the QL so it must be somewhat accessible.

You're probably one of those people who somehow managed to make a game like Mass Effect 3 last for 50 hours. 15~ hours is about the right amount of time I'd say that it takes to beat this game going a leisure pace, though I admit at the end I kind of gave up at looking for collectibles because it made the game feel more like a game. I know that's an odd statement, but getting sucked into the world kinda makes you forget that fact, and I found myself thinking about where the developers could have hidden the items in the world, and it started to break my immersion as a result.

I also did a marathon of this game, I played 5 hours one day, and then on my second day off from work, I played it until I beat it. I definitely agree with the opening poster, the combat REALLY gets tiring after a while, and I was just wishing that the combat would end so I could continue on with the story at some points.

#12 Edited by Fredchuckdave (6138 posts) -

@random45: No, I'm telling you you missed out on some of the best scenes the game has to offer and that's just how it is. Some of the characters have much greater connections because you went down a slightly different route and listened to a little scene between whomever your party consisted of at the time. I'd say roughly half of the major characters fall into this boat, thus your connection with those characters was lessened. Additionally the game is basically saying you're the best survivalist mankind has to offer, what survivalist doesn't scavenge for supplies nonstop? It makes no sense to bumrush this game, and that's right around 13-14 hours (not to say someone hasn't done it faster, I'm sure on easy it's doable in 8 or 9); you can marathon it sure but don't try to rush through it while doing so. Maybe that's what Patrick was warning against?

#13 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5985 posts) -

There's no fucking way I could've finished this game in one sitting. I had several points where I was too emotionally drained to move forward. If I had to guess, I played through it in about six or seven sittings and I beat the game at around 17 hours. I really think marathoning this game is to your detriment. The combat, story beats and atmosphere will drain you in one aspect or another after a while.

#14 Edited by whatisdelicious (1288 posts) -

@themanwithnoplan: Yeah I would totally agree with you. If I'd taken breaks and played it over the course of a few days, I probably would've liked some of the combat more. After every Bloater, I felt like taking a break, but then something would reel me back in. That's the funny part for me; I never actually set out to marathon the whole game. I just wanted to play at least a few hours of it while I had the house to myself. Then it turned out to be really good and I didn't want to stop until eventually it became, "Well, I'm already this far..."

#15 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5985 posts) -

@themanwithnoplan: Yeah I would totally agree with you. If I'd taken breaks and played it over the course of a few days, I probably would've liked some of the combat more. After every Bloater, I felt like taking a break, but then something would reel me back in. That's the funny part for me; I never actually set out to marathon the whole game. I just wanted to play at least a few hours of it while I had the house to myself. Then it turned out to be really good and I didn't want to stop until eventually it became, "Well, I'm already this far..."

Yeah, I understand. I've definitely had those times where what starts out as a brief excursion turns into an all day affair.

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