Everything We’ve Learned About The Last of Us


  • A big part of The Last of Us’ mechanics concern stealth, rather than combat, with the ability to sneak past as many as you might engage in.
  • Naughty Dog has mentioned the “choice” capabilities that you’ll have in dealing with any given situation. These usually work within the game mechanics — so you’ll be able to choose how you sneak through a large room filled with infected, for example. Occasionally you’ll be able to make decisions through level design to bypass enemies altogether, but don’t expect the same amount of path choice as in, say, Deus Ex.
  • In fact, while a situation may present a solution that lets you bypass a room or an enemy altogether with another path, Naughty Dog is purposely forcing players into a lot of tough situations where you will be forced to deal with enemies in some way or another. As Lead Designer Jacob Minkoff put it, the idea was to put the characters through tough situations, so expect these to factor in story.
  • While a lot of areas in The Last of Us get pretty dark — during our preview, we moved through a building’s basement that was nearly pitch black — you’ll be able to use your flashlight with impunity because of the infected’s vision impairments.
  • In fact, stealth may require a little getting used to because of this element. Runners can see but not well, and avoiding their gaze seems to include being careful about your motion. Clickers can only see what’s directly in front of them, and only when they’ve started “clicking,” so it’s possible to sneak up on them with their being alerted.
  • Distracting enemies is a viable option in many situations, and you’ll constantly find bottles, bricks, and other small implements around to throw in order to create noise somewhere farther away. Think Sam Fisher’s distraction capabilities in Splinter Cell.
  • Joel can be set to sneak by toggling him into a crouching position, which causes him to stay low and move more slowly, but more quietly. This way, he can crouch behind objects to avoid enemies detecting him.
  • It’s unclear just how sound will play into the stealth system. Joel is able to distract some enemies with sound, but it also seems as though different attacks factor in differently to how enemies perceive him in their environments.

  • A major part of the stealth system is sneaking up on enemies and killing them quickly and (relatively) quietly, either through strangling them (which only works on runners or human enemies) or with a craftable shiv (which is the only way to stealthily kill clickers).
  • When Joel goes stealthy, so does Ellie, and she stays very close to Joel without impairing his ability to see or move around. It seems as if Ellie will be smart enough not to alert enemies — that’s on you.
  • You should be able to stealth past enemies in many situations, although some enemies are purposely positions to require you to take them out.
  • It seems as if almost every situation is going to require some degree of stealth, and the choices you make for how you deal with obstacles in this way is going to matter. As Minkoff put it, you might sneak past a group of enemies, thereby avoiding having to fight them and the danger that could incur. By the same token, however, not clearing out a room of enemies may rob you of the ability to thoroughly check it for supplies you could scavenge.


  • When you do have to fight, you’ll have a few options. First is a dedicated melee attack button, the effect of which changes depending on whether you’re carrying a weapon. By default, Joel can fight with his fists.
  • Finding melee weapons in the environment gives you a new option for fighting, but only briefly, as weapons always break. Where Joel might take six hits on a runner enemy to kill it with his fists, a two-by-four or pipe as a weapon may only require three.
  • Every melee weapon comes with a hit bar that notifies you of how many more strikes you can put it through before it breaks.
  • It’s possible to upgrade melee weapons with scavenged materials through the crafting system (more on that later). An upgraded weapon offers one-hit kills and can put out more hits before eventually breaking. The trade-off is that using melee weapons is often a “loud” option and might attract more attackers.

  • Bottles, bricks and other found items can function as melee weapons in a pinch as well. Picking up a brick allows you to throw it as a distraction or pitch it into the face of an enemy for a momentary stun. Holding a brick in hand and using it as a melee weapon offers a one-hit kill, but destroys the brick in the process. This is definitely useful in emergencies.
  • Also a viable option in combat: running the hell away. In fact, when attacked by a group of runners, holding the sprint button allows you to break free of the pile and run for it.
  • Joel also carries a number of guns, starting with a pistol in the preview we saw, but expanding to a shotgun later and other weapons. Ammo is often very limited, however — just a few bullets at a time.
  • Firing a gun requires holding a trigger button to raise it, much like in Resident Evil or Dead Space titles.
  • Joel keeps just about everything in his backpack, and switching between items can be done with the D-pad. You can carry a limited number of additional stuff, like bricks and bottles, in addition to a gun and a melee weapon, at least at first.
  • In addition to guns and melees, you’ll also see items like molotov cocktails that you can use. Molotovs take up a throwing weapon slot in your inventory, and can be crafted.

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1 Comment on Everything We’ve Learned About The Last of Us


On February 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

Dude, awesome article. The game sounds heavily scripted. But.. even if it’s full with fungus spores.. feels like fresh air.