The Future of The Last of Us: Where Can It Improve?

Posted by _Mattallica (153 posts) -

So The Last of Us is finally here and it seems like everyone is pretty damn impressed. The game is currently the highest rated release of the year so far according to Metacritic. It also seems to be selling incredibly well and looks like it may end up as the best selling PS3 exclusive behind Gran Turismo 5. This undoubtedly means we will get a sequel on the PlayStation 4, but after such a strong first offering, how can Naughty Dog improve? I have a few suggestions.

The survival horror elements of this game were my favorite part of the gameplay. Early on when you find yourself entering darkened rooms, sneaking from wall to wall, desperately trying to avoid making any sound not to alert any nearby clickers is fantastic. The thrill of slowly sneaking behind someone only to shiv them in the neck is the type of violent stealth I haven't experienced since Rockstar Games' Manhunt. Unfortunately after a strong start these moments become few and far between.

As you progress we are heavily pushed into more and more gun battles with other survivors. These encounters are still fun, but carries none of the tension of the early sequences as the game seems to forget about these survival horror scenarios and almost turn into a cover based shooter if you are ever seen. Next time make the whole emphasis on these moments and keep the gun battles to a minimum. This game shines when the gameplay is as far away from Uncharted as possible.

Speaking of enemies, another part which can be improved upon is the variety you encounter. Outside of clickers which are absolutely terrifying, the other enemies just aren't as good and there are enough of them. The bloated enemies suck so remove them and add some completely different ones. Perhaps some that are incredibly fast, an enemy that suicides near you to cause damage or even more intelligent infected that are closer to other survivors. The possibilities are endless.

Now let's talk about stealth. Early on I became increasingly frustrated with the stealth elements which was mainly due to the AI of Joel's companions. Tess would just randomly start shooting enemies and alerting my presence to infected and also bump into them and do the same thing. However once it was just Joel and Ellie it actually worked rather well. I was able to beat entire sections without being seen and that felt awesome.

However some sections seem to be designed to be played as a shooter. Particularly the final sections are almost impossible to play entirely through stealth which is a shame. I don't think this game should be 100% stealth, I love that the game mostly gives you the choice. Just makes sure that choice is always there. Also regarding the stealth, listen mode is another thing I have a problem with.

For a game that strives for realism constantly and pretty much always nails it, this feature seems so out of place. Of course you don't have to use it but when its there it is extremely hard not to. It is not explained in the narrative why a guy can see someone's movements through walls just by sound and ultimately completely kills the tension you would have had when sneaking around, not knowing what's around each corner. In short, get rid of it entirely.

With the game being all about survival and in a lot of ways having some very hardcore game mechanics, one disappointment is how little the penalty for death is. If you die the game will restart at basically the exact same spot, with the same amount of enemies and with all of your resources intact. Due to this, you can play the game via trial and error and even though the characters fear for their life, the player doesn't fear the consequence at all.

Changing this in the next game I believe would be a huge improvement. Maybe don't have so many checkpoints to look after the player so you don't feel like you're missing out on anything by dying. If you have to restart from an earlier point it would hype up the tension considerably and would keep within the tone of the game much better. You could even remove all checkpoints entirely and rely only on save locations. Something which would annoy many, but as a fan of the old school games in this genre, I think it would be a breath of fresh air.

Something which hasn't been getting a lot of attention, but has been received well by players is the surprising multiplayer. Not just adding a tacked on Deathmatch mode like Tomb Raider did (and failed), what we get is somewhat unique. The overall metagame is very interesting and something that makes you want to keep playing beyond the usually leveling up. The modes themselves though could do with some more depth.

Extra modes in the next game would go a long way in improving upon a solid foundation in a sequel. Perhaps a mode where you and your crew enter a village to hunt for supplies whilst an opposing team of survivors try to stop you. Also everything you earn gets converted into medicine currently which helps keep you clan healthy. The option to chose what to spend match earnings on such as medicine, new weapons or food would also add another level of resource management which could be a fascinating twist on the regular multiplayer format.

Finally I want to touch on the story. This is arguably the hardest part to improve upon as it is already so strong. But where do they go next? Naughty Dog have said that this game tells Joel and Ellie's story and doesn't need to be expanded upon. This of course could change and after the phenomenal success of the game it would be crazy to abandon such strong, well loved characters after one game.

Of course the other possibility is to go like The Walking Dead and make the series about the setting, and that each game tells a new story within that setting. This could happen but I still think its doubtful. So many people would be disappointed if Joel and Ellie were completely absent so who knows where the next game will end up. Maybe they could show more of the initial outbreak and fill the 20 year gap between this event to where most of the first game takes place.

Really this has to be Naughty Dog's hardest task in their history in trying to expand upon what is arguably their best game to date. Whilst it didn't have the same impact as The Last of Us, when the first Uncharted was released many did question how it could be improved. Then Uncharted 2 came out and absolutely blew it out of the water in every area (and still Naughty Dog's best game in my opinion). If anyone can achieve this task, it is Naughty Dog. And I cannot wait to see what they come up with.

#1 Posted by BigBoss1911 (2413 posts) -

I honestly don't want to see a sequel, at least within Joel and Ellie's story arc.

#2 Posted by Clonedzero (4091 posts) -

Truck driving sequence.

Needs more Truck.

#3 Edited by Yummylee (21276 posts) -

While I too was soured a wee bit on the increased focus on the action as the game went on, it still never quite reached the point of being this bombastic shooter, and stuff like the Hospital segment at least seemed narratively justified given that Joel isn't in any position to slowly sneak his way past. It's the precise reason why you suddenly now have a fully-automatic rifle to help you out, because Naughty Dog knows you're now in a hurry.

Still, the opening segments of the game where all you have is your wits and a 9mm pistol are superb, but even when you do start to find a lot of ammo and weapons at your disposal, the shooting is still a little more difficult to manage than most, and the lack of regenerating health and how each bullet will often knock you to the ground, still allowed The Last of Us to carry its own relatively grounded reality when it came to combat. Though the flamethrower was a bit much...

I also had no issue with the lax checkpointing, since despite the knowledge that i'd be brought back in a flash should I die, the combat encounters could still be so intense all on their own. Any and all attempts to sneak past a horde of clickers still forces me to hold my breath as I so very lightly push on the analogue stick.

It's most definitely a tough task to try and build upon where The Last of Us left off, gameplay speaking, because usually for sequels the design is to provide more. And dumping even more weapons and enemy types will only begin to further The Last of Us from its humble beginnings and into something a lot more.

Fortunately the storytelling is so well done that a rather iterative sequel could still hold over enough people, if only for the fact that we've got more stories to uncover in this world. Given that this hypothetical sequel will be on the PS4, that at the very least means we can expect more complex AI patterns from both the Hunters and the infected, too. Which that alone sounds like it'd be a huge improvement.

I really hope that Joel and Ellie's tales are finished, though. I'm more than open to more stories being told within this world, but I'd prefer that we leave those two behind. Don't get me wrong, they're both outstanding characters; I loved this game enough that it was almost upsetting that it simply had to come to an end. Still, I think they've finished their story really well and to continue onward with the two, if even just one of 'em, could always ruin their arc. The ending works best with that little bit of ambiguity and it's that open-ended that has spawned a great deal of the discussions surrounding the game.

#4 Posted by lusence (345 posts) -

I would LOVE to see more of what happens with joel and ellie. they leave you hanging. so they make it to a 'safe zone', but what is next? story being told they left it hanging. she still is the only immune you know of, and that is pretty much the whole end of the world.

as far as stealth goes they should look at duex ex, the latest one. you can get a trophy for not killing a soul and stealthing through the whole game! its just they made it almost 2 hard 2 even attempt that without a million tries.

I would love to see them expand on this and give the player more room to decide what type of game they want to play. one being a RPG resorce gather to expand on you safe zone and help everyone and perhaps find a cure. on the other hand let us choose to go into the danger zones and just beat it out of the enemy!

#5 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1455 posts) -

I would honestly rather them not make a sequel. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the game, it's my game of the year so far, but there doesn't need to be a sequel. For one, the story of these characters is finished, and any attempt to continue their story would be a disservice to the ending of the game.

As for the other idea of just telling new stories in this world, I'd rather they didn't because the world is, quite frankly, not that interesting. I think The Last of Us has an outstanding story, but it succeeds because of the characters, their relationships, and the journey they go on. There is nothing wrong with world that has been created, but to me it isn't a character unto itself like Columbia or a universe of unlimited storytelling potential like the world of Mass Effect.

The world served this story perfectly, but if Naughty Dog were going to tell a whole new story with all new characters, I feel like they might as well create something completely new. Since the world of The Last of Us doesn't really have anything to set it apart from other post apocalypse settings, other than the fantastic characters, I think they should let this be one and done.

#6 Posted by Seppli (10251 posts) -

People could just have a vegetable garden, and stop eating each other. I don't understand how food is a problem in a world that's not totally poisoned and gone to shit. Hell - aside from the infected, the Earth in The Last of Us is flippin' garden Eden - so I dunno what everyone's problem is.

#7 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

@seppli said:

People could just have a vegetable garden, and stop eating each other. I don't understand how food is a problem in a world that's not totally poisoned and gone to shit. Hell - aside from the infected, the Earth in The Last of Us is flippin' garden Eden - so I dunno what everyone's problem is.

WE LIKE MEAT YOU CRAZY VEGEN

#8 Posted by Raineko (433 posts) -

I'm one of the few who wants a sequel. When I beat the game I didn't really have the impression the story is finished.

#9 Posted by fuzzypumpkin (383 posts) -

@_mattallica:

I like where you're going with most of the suggestions. The only part I don't understand is the AI interfering. They literally can walk in front of enemies and the enemies won't react, so I don't understand why you say that Tess would bump into them and they would start attacking.

#10 Edited by LackingSaint (1772 posts) -

I totally disagree with the idea of the game not punishing players enough for death. Trying many different approaches to a situation is one of my favourite things about the game, and pushing me back 10 minutes for messing up would've probably made me put the game down within the first couple hours.

#11 Edited by Humanity (8826 posts) -
  • Flesh out the stealth if that is your primary form of engaging hostiles.
  • Vary the enemies, at least on the infected side.
  • Differentiate traversal beyond finding a ladder or boost point.
  • Increase weapon damage or lower enemy health if you plan to be stringent with ammo.

Do all that while maintaining the same high quality level of writing and VO then I will probably love the next game instead of just liking it a whole damn lot.

#12 Posted by Baillie (4039 posts) -

SPOILER WARNINGS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND

#13 Edited by Scroll (593 posts) -

I really hope they never return to Joel and Ellie as it would defeat the purpose of that ending. Instead they should explore a completely different story within the same universe.

#14 Edited by _Mattallica (153 posts) -

@fuzzypumpkin: I think I may have encountered a glitch. First time I played, Tess alerted the enemies 3 or 4 times and it was super annoying. After she left and on my 2nd playthrough I hade zero issues so I'm not sure what the problem was initially but it seemed to have solved itself.

#15 Posted by killacam (1284 posts) -

I actually thought the shooting sequences did a great job of holding the tension of the game. I would start sneaking, get caught, and by the end of the encounter I'd realize I needed to start breathing again. I don't normally care for cover shooting... but the supply shortages (on hard anyway), slow, deliberate controls that give each pull of the trigger a certain weight, and the way the game frames each encounter in the context of the story really made the more actiony parts something greater than simply being thrown into a room to kill a bunch of dudes.

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