The Last of Us Ending

Posted by Sam_lfcfan (139 posts) -

I absolutely loved The Last of Us. The act of taking out the infected while trying to survive another day in the apocalypse was tense and engaging. The story of Ellie and Joel’s journey was incredible, and kept me going during the occasional times where the game drags. Unfortunately, the game’s final sequence squandered a lot of my goodwill for the game.

I understand what Naughty Dog was going for, but that just makes it more frustrating. The idea of Joel fighting his way through the hospital to save Ellie is okay, but the gameplay just dissolves into being a third-person shooter where you shoot a bunch of dudes. The Last of Us is not at its best as a shooter. The sheer number of people you kill during the last hour also goes against what the game is really about, and makes their deaths less meaningful.

And after you shoot everybody comes my least favorite part of the game. Again, I understand, and in someways appreciate, what Naughty Dog was trying to do here. In an age where choice in games has become almost mandatory, I kinda like a game ardently saying that you have no choice in the ending. Joel destroys possibly the last chance of creating an antidote for the virus. Joel is his own character, not yours. But my problem is that they do give you control. You have to pull the trigger on those doctors. It gives you the illusion of choice where there is none. As the player, I really did not want to pull the trigger for Joel, since I didn’t have any input into his decision in the first place. Joel’s decision was clearly not mine. The Last of Us is an excellent game, but like many games before it, it struggles with the final chapter.

#1 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

I absolutely loved The Last of Us. The act of taking out the infected while trying to survive another day in the apocalypse was tense and engaging. The story of Ellie and Joel’s journey was incredible, and kept me going during the occasional times where the game drags. Unfortunately, the game’s final sequence squandered a lot of my goodwill for the game.

I understand what Naughty Dog was going for, but that just makes it more frustrating. The idea of Joel fighting his way through the hospital to save Ellie is okay, but the gameplay just dissolves into being a third-person shooter where you shoot a bunch of dudes. The Last of Us is not at its best as a shooter. The sheer number of people you kill during the last hour also goes against what the game is really about, and makes their deaths less meaningful.

And after you shoot everybody comes my least favorite part of the game. Again, I understand, and in someways appreciate, what Naughty Dog was trying to do here. In an age where choice in games has become almost mandatory, I kinda like a game ardently saying that you have no choice in the ending. Joel destroys possibly the last chance of creating an antidote for the virus. Joel is his own character, not yours. But my problem is that they do give you control. You have to pull the trigger on those doctors. It gives you the illusion of choice where there is none. As the player, I really did not want to pull the trigger for Joel, since I didn’t have any input into his decision in the first place. Joel’s decision was clearly not mine. The Last of Us is an excellent game, but like many games before it, it struggles with the final chapter.

You have a choice. A small one but you dont have to kill these doctors at all.

#2 Edited by Pr1mus (3908 posts) -

I had a similar experience with the frustration of the gameplay in the last hour or so just as you described. However where it defers for me is that this frustration put me in the same state of mind that Joel was in and made the ending all the more powerful. Throughout that game i came to really hate what was left of that world where the only behavior left in 99% of the people is to shoot anyone they see. And in that last hour i came to hate the fireflies even more. This is not a world worth saving.

Had i been given a proper choice a la Mass Effect or whatever i would have done exactly what Joel did.

#3 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1701 posts) -

The point of that last sequence is to make the player feel uncomfortable. You have projected yourself onto Joel by controlling him throughout the game, but in this moment you are given a harsh reminder that you have no control over his decisions. The brilliance of the ending is to force you to make your final act controlling this character against your will, just as Ellie is saved against her will. After that sequence, you are put in the shoes of Ellie to end the game, because the player is the in the same situation she is in, forced into a situation against her will by Joel, who acts out of selfishness under the veil of survival.

Joel certainly didn't come across as a morally positive character up to that point, but most of his actions could be somewhat justified. The ending is the point where you are meant to get the final message, Joel is an irredeemable bastard, and the most meaningful and impactful way to convey that message is to force you commit the irredeemable act yourself.

#4 Posted by Ramone (2966 posts) -

I didn't have any trouble with the last parts of the game. I played it the exact same way I'd played the rest of it.

My response to your criticism of the ending is that Joel doesn't have a choice. There is no way, given the events of the story and what happened to his own daughter, that he is going to let Ellie be killed. If the doctor is going to stop him he is going to be killed.

#5 Posted by CornBREDX (5277 posts) -

The point of that last sequence is to make the player feel uncomfortable. You have projected yourself onto Joel by controlling him throughout the game, but in this moment you are given a harsh reminder that you have no control over his decisions. The brilliance of the ending is to force you to make your final act controlling this character against your will, just as Ellie is saved against her will. After that sequence, you are put in the shoes of Ellie to end the game, because the player is the in the same situation she is in, forced into a situation against her will by Joel, who acts out of selfishness under the veil of survival.

Joel certainly didn't come across as a morally positive character up to that point, but most of his actions could be somewhat justified. The ending is the point where you are meant to get the final message, Joel is an irredeemable bastard, and the most meaningful and impactful way to convey that message is to force you commit the irredeemable act yourself.

nailed it, in my opinion

@ramone: Small disagreement with you. Very minor. Joel doesn't believe he has any other choice. The game brings you to a place where that is the only logical choice for Joel to make but not the only choice he had. Joel does have a choice.

It is a fascinating moral dilemma of an ending, though. Like several games recently, it has you question what makes a hero, or even a good person for that matter.

I believe the ending is a metaphor for how some things are out of our control. They're going to happen even if you don't want them to. I could be wrong, and there could something else that can happen there, but I felt it was pretty powerful in the way I perceived it. I also disagreed with Joel's choice from what I recall, but I get it.

It's very fascinating how you come to realize that Joel is the bad guy in that game just as much as everybody else you run across. Maybe more so.

#6 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2562 posts) -

Like the some other posters here, I absolutely adored the ending. I have a slightly different perspective on it (noone is evil or bad in TLOU, and there is no meaning in or need for redemption in the universe), but aside from that others have made excellent arguments which are much like my own.

#7 Posted by TheVeteran13 (1209 posts) -

I didn't have to shoot anyone in the hospital sequence.

#8 Posted by Hyuzen (451 posts) -

I didn't shoot anyone in that operating room either.

I smashed them with a brick or my fists, because that's what Joel was ready to do in that situation. I waiting a moment to make sure the game wasn't offering me any other option, then realized that Joel would probably have gone too far in his reaction to this situation to get Ellie back.

It was pretty cool to see that turnaround in his character, where you see that he was almost like the villain of the game.

I'm torn because while I think Naughty Dog made an excellent self-contained game, and the ending being so ambiguous is a good choice, I would also love to see a sequel. They could pick up a few to a few dozen years later, after Joel dies. I kinda figured that Ellie would know he was lying, but didn't feel like she could leave him. I'm sure Naughty Dog could come up with some cool stuff with a slightly older Ellie that you control. I guess they would need to find some way to keep it fresh so it wasn't just her travelling to some faraway destination again.

Man, I loved that game.

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