Excellent from Beginning to End
The Last of Us 2 is a game that many people felt wasn't needed after the first game, myself included, but was pleasantly surprised that they improved over the first game in just about every way I can think of. I'm still shocked at how well done the writing of the characters were, the world building, and overall quality of the game that I'm surprised this was even possible in a game that doesn't fluster on one of those parts.
Like the first game, the general gameplay loop is story, some combat which is mostly stealth if possible, exploration, and the typical, "We gotta find another way around" type of game. This gameplay has been done, but not to this level of quality. The animations during combat are something that you don't typically notice, from the character cocking back a gun to seeing an enemy flair based on where you shot them. They even all have character names they shout to each other, including dogs, that add to it just another level of flavor. They tie in story elements very well during the exploration that each building you explore feels unique, other than the abundance of PlayStation 3's you'll find around. Every note page found adds to that little area or gives more information about each faction that it feels like a fleshed out RPG level of world building. The way Ellie reacts to what she read and talks about it with the other characters after reading it, mentioning what weapons or tools she finds when exploring, makes everything feel real. That, alongside some of the best voice acting, makes this game really hard to put down at times.
The general aspect of the story is revenge, the main part of all the advertisement put out for this game, and what would you do if you were put in those shoes. I was left in shock multiple times when playing The Last of Us 2 that has just about never happened to me outside of say, Game of Thrones. It was to the extent where I had to stop playing once to clear my mind. The story isn't really too much outside of that basic aspect, however it's the character building and writing for those characters that makes you want to stay and see where it goes. Each character felt believable in what they want and are doing, and you see multiple extremes of what the world does to peoples character and mindset. The main villain or antagonist is Abby, and there's not much I can say regarding her character other than the fact that she may be my one of my favorite characters in this series. Ellie and Abby's actors did a really great job of having you care about them and their goals and to see them accomplish them.
The gunplay and stealth feel better than the first game, as you can even stealth kill clickers without constantly needing to worry about crafting shivs every chance you get, and they give you plenty of ways to stealth kill by shooting too. That being said, I played on Moderate and at times I went guns blazing here and there and when aiming correctly, that feels great too and every time you miss, it usually feels like your fault. While playing moderate, I was usually always well off on supplies, and you can go into a very thorough list of changes to the difficulty to make each aspect easier or harder, from more or less supplies, partner AI help, and enemy AIs abilities.
With everything being said, I don't feel the game dragged on either. It basically felt like they wanted to just fully explore this world and get to the end goal eventually. You never loose track of the goal, as you always have mini goals on the way to get to where you want to go by the end, even though at a majority of those turns, it's needing to find another path or solution. It is a shame that they decided not to have the multiplayer that was in the first game, as that was one of the best parts of that game, however with how long the game is and the story they told, multiplayer wasn't needed to make this game feel complete.