The Last of Us 2 - Ellie Can Swim (Spoiler thread)

Ellie can swim now! I’ll just leave this here to avoid anyone accidentally previewing something they didn’t want to see.

SPOILERS BEGIN:

So wow, what a fucking ordeal or experience or journey that was. I seriously thought the game was ending when Ellie sat on the tractor with the baby and watched sunset. And before that, I thought the game was almost over when I had to head to the island as Abbey to help find Lev. And then when the game did end, I thought for sure there’d be one final scene where they show Ellie heading back to Jackson, instead of leaving it open-ended.

Game was much longer than I thought it would be. It felt like they kept tacking new areas at the end. Not sure what could really be cut out but at some point I was just anxious to see how it all ended. I didn’t want to keep killing random Scars or Wolves or Rattlers. Just wanted to know how the story ended.

Overall I think I enjoyed the experience, difficult as it was at times. Enjoyed isn’t really the right word though. Maybe I appreciated the experience works better. Hard to say I enjoyed it when there were multiple times I wanted to scream at Ellie to NOT do that, to stop right there. To say Joel wouldn’t have wanted this. And the awful sheer brutality of it. I didn’t think that TLOU needed a sequel at all but I appreciate that they gave it one nonetheless. TLOU is one of my favorite games of all time, heavily influenced by the fact I had a 2yo girl at the time, with another just a few months out at the time I finished it.

I have a lot more thoughts on it but I want to see what everyone else thought as they finish it as well. So I’ll leave off here. Wow.

PS - thought it was funny that I just searched my post history to see my posts on the first one and came across this gem, which relates perfectly to Scott’s TLOU2 thread ->

rowe33:
One extremely minor nitpick - why didn’t Joel try and teach Ellie how to swim at some point? Seems like it would have been quite a handy survival skill for a cross country trek. I guess he wasn’t expecting it take quite as long as it did but still…would have helped!

I haven’t played the game, just watched a few streams. Certainly an interesting experience, and I’m curious to see what everyone thinks.

My impressions: hey, the Seattle Aquarium, that was awesome! I used to work there. Never expected to see it show up in a video game.

Interesting little tidbit - the load screen after you finish the game shows Abbey’s boat pulled ashore on Catalina Island with the casino in the background. So at least you learn that the pair made it there.

I went in expecting not to enjoy it, but to at least be engaged by it, as I was invested in the characters from the first game. I ended up enjoying it by Seattle Day 2, when I’d upgraded Ellie’s weapons & abilities sufficiently, and what the game then throws at you on the way to the hospital.

While I appreciate ND being generous in the value delivered in one game, I felt the narrative momentum from Ellie’s story was lost by the introduction of Abby’s story at the point ND chose, and it would have been better placed later at Ellie’s departure from the Farmhouse- or unlocked as a separate story in the menu on completion of Ellie’s story.

Then, you could have had the mystery of why Abby spared Ellie & Dina in the Theatre at Lev’s prompting- and why is she listening to this Scar that we haven’t seen before???- and how they end up as prisoners of the Rattlers in Santa Barbara, as motivation to play through her story, rather than being forced by design at the earlier juncture.

It would also mean that you would first play as Ellie against Abby in the Theatre & then in SB in the first playthrough, and then vice-versa in the second playthrough in Abby’s story. As it currently stands, I found myself not wanting to fight the other character when required to progress the story.

It probably would also require Abby’s story to be rounded out with the Firefly rendezvous on Catalina Island, and what effect (if any) her biting the fingers off Ellie’s recently bit hand would have had on her. Would she become infected or immune herself? Would she find purpose again by the Firefly’s renewal to seek out Ellie for another chance at the cure? This would have been a great counterpoint to Ellie’s ending, bit of a missed opportunity I felt.

Before I get to the nitty-gritty, I want to commend Naughty Dog for the wide variety of accessibility options they have in The Last of Us Part II. There are a ton of settings you can mess with and they’re all implemented rather well. Importantly, enabling them doesn’t mess with trophies or rewards, so availing yourself of stuff like slo-mo targeting or high-contrast mode (features that do make combat almost trivially easy) won’t mean you’re also missing out on anything. As someone that wasn’t all that enamored of the 3rd-person action, (it feels clumsy and inaccurate to me) I used slo-mo targeting for most of the 35-ish hours of my playtime and never regretted it.

This felt like a much more combat/action heavy game than the last time around. I may be misremembering my experience in The Last of Us, but it seemed Naughty Dog opted for more hostile encounters and less stealth and environmental puzzles in this sequel. For the tale they were trying to tell, I suppose it was the right call.

Oh boy. That story. So here’s where my pretentious top hat pops on and I start throwing out terms like “ludonarrative dissonance” to describe my feelings about the story. Spoilers ahoy!

I’m certain there’s a great idea here. Ellie’s self-destructive revenge quest entwining with her foe’s perspective on events, at its core, is terrific fodder for good storytelling. The lesson that revenge is empty and pointless and harms the seeker is an age old bit of wisdom, so there’s nothing wrong in concept. Killing Joel to kick off that quest is a shocking and wonderful way to get the player to invested in Ellie’s motivation. But I don’t buy any of it here.

A game, especially a AAA console exclusive big-ticket EVENT game like this, is also meant to be engaging for the player. (“Fun” to use the F-word here.) The mechanics like the shooting and stealth kills and all the ways you interact with enemies are honed to a razor-sharp edge of fun. It feels “good” to kill. That’s kind of the whole point of the game. You don’t play GWENT or rock, paper, scissors to beat enemies. You stab them, or shoot them, or stomp their heads. That combat is its own dopamine reward for the player.

Take the dogs, for example. You kill the shit out of dogs because the game sets them up as a combat obstacle to overcome when you’re Ellie. Dogs sniff you out when you try to hide and if you don’t eliminate them they alert other enemies to your presence as well as attack you. They are as annoying in this game as they’ve ever been in any game with dog enemies. Dogs are valid targets. Oh, but then you switch perspectives to Abby, and the game tries to make you feel guilty. Like, here’s this good doggo wagging its tail and you can pet him and see him bork and be happy. Don’t you feel guilty for what you did later as Ellie? No, game. I don’t fucking feel guilty. The dog was a combat enemy to me, so I killed him, and I’d do it again if I replayed the act.

The same goes with the human enemies. Making them gurgle or plead for their lives before I snuff them out doesn’t make me question my motivation any more than the overall revenge tale. I knew exactly how it was going to go down (with Ellie’s life ruined or dead) and I played the game anyway because I paid $60 for it and the only viable action to deal with baddies is killing. It’s the players only verb. Killing bad guys as Ellie then attempting to show how the player was the bad guy to Abby’s folks in a game about killing is counterproductive. It felt as sincere as Niko Bellic bemoaning his violent past in GTA IV while throwing grenades at clumps of gangsters.

Again, I’m sure this tale can be told well. I think Spec Ops: The Line did a pretty bang-up job of subverting the player’s idea of being a hero. I think some of the more introspective beats in Red Dead Redemption 2 invited the player to think on the nature of violence. Heck, I believe Undertale presented a “hey maybe you’re not the good guy” narrative in a surprisingly decent way. I don’t think the Last of Us Part II’s po-faced faux clucking at violence while presenting that violence in lurid set pieces did anything for me.

I did like Ellie’s singing though.

I’ve only watched some streams of the game, as I did the first game. Haven’t played either. But one of the things that I really appreciated about the first game was how it always made sure I understood who Joel and Ellie were and why they were doing what they did. I understand not everyone agreed with all the things they did, including the end of the game, but Joel’s decision made sense with who he was and what he had been through. Saving the world meant nothing if he couldn’t save that little girl.

In the sequel though, I don’t feel that I understand why Ellie or Abby do the things they do. They just seem like unstoppable killing machines who do what they do because the plot dictates. It’s just an unending revenge circle jerk. Yeah, I get that Abby gets her fill and calls it quits and so does Ellie at the very end but jesus, how many lives did they end to get there, how much destruction did they wreak?

It is a beautiful game though, and for all I know the gameplay is an absolute blast. I’m just not sure the whole thing came together as a cohesive whole, especially when compared with the first game.

Loved it. and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first one (still liked it a lot). I liked that this game took HUGE risks, like killing Joel and showing two main characters that are really kind of psychopaths, AND they are female. I really do think you cannot play this game without experiencing it alone… not watching a stream or having somebody TALK about it. The game has ALOT of subtle nuance that gets ruined if some lame ass streamer laughs through it all because they can’t accept a muscular female character. Preconceived notions will melt away as you play the game alone. Theres alot of idiots trying to compare this game to Captain Marvel or another Lame Disney Star Wars, a political diatribe… this is a game. Its not meant to be ONLY narrative, it has to be experienced.

I just really love the design of the world and how it looks and feels very believable. The weather and environments are so beautifully done, and its only in a game like this or Red Dead 2 that it brings up real life to me personally and how beautiful the world really is even within an depressing gameworld. I don’t ‘get’ that from movies or books, only video games like this. Its a rare, and I think its something that when they get it done well, it kind of immerses players back into the REAL world.

One of my favorite parts of the game was really imaginative… going from the 40th floor down the building, outside its day, but inside its dreary dark… LIKE A FUCKING MODERN DUNGEON! And you go down inside a recognizable but destroyed environment, but can fall! SO damn awesome loved this part of the game, as well you have Lev with you, some great comments back and forth.

anyway, loved the game, and the narrative doesnt have to be ‘masterpiece’ it just has to work and keep me immersed. This game did it for the whole time playing.

I won’t argue against people not liking the story, because it either works or it doesn’t for you. Its kind of like some games you HAVE to suspend your disbelief of situations because of the ‘gamey’ side. Its almost natural to accept the RAMBO side of Ellie and Abby, like cmon, it is an action game. But I get it.

Theres alot more to the game then just a revenge tale post apoc western etc… Its an action set piece game where there some really good set pieces. Also did you like the Resident Evil hospital basement level!? so damn awesome! Also I loved drawing the zombies onto the ‘bad’ guys… so damn fun.

I think you have to play the games to fully understand their motivations. You have to experience it in their shoes. Don’t believe it’s really something that would come through on streams. Without an emotional connection to the characters, it seems the narrative would definitely fail.

Yes, of course. It was great and it should be fun. No issue there. I just don’t think that all the awesome combat fits a game story that’s trying to make you feel bad about it.

The game is obviously trying to make you feel guilty on purpose. It worked for me. Its manipulative. But for games to succeed where movies do… they have to kind of knock people in the head. But yeah, Its kind of cheap, remember those dogs you killed? Well heres the flashback of them being nice and cuddly… HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES! so subtle lol!

Both fights between Ellie and Abbey had me squeamish and just wanting them to be over. Especially the final one, after you’ve beaten Abbey and she’s on her hands & knees, cowering. I let the game sit there for at least 5 minutes, hoping she’d get up and they’d hug it out or something. Just having that ‘Strike’ prompt, waiting there, was brutal. I thought for sure she was going to kill her.

I seriously doubt that. It definitely wasn’t the case with the first game, what’s changed so much this time around?

Not sure how to answer this other than recommend you play the game and see if it helps you understand their motivations better.

Well that’s not going to happen so if you aren’t able to articulate why I shouldn’t be able to grasp the motivations of the characters by watching what they do and say then I guess that’s that.

Umm, ok. What’s with the attitude?

Because you’re not explaining your position, you’re hand waving some ‘eh, you’ll never understand unless you play the game’ non-answer at me. I don’t believe there is anything magical about holding a controller in my hand that is going to somehow impart insight into what these characters are doing and thinking. I think that’s a copout answer.

Ok, guess that’s that then.

Its more that your attention is engaged more when you play the game. Especially without the noise of a commentator for some games whether streamed or youtube. Yeah, there’s some non commentary gameplay, but you still don’t get the full effect of playing and keeping your attention in the game. Its not just Last of Us. I’d say the same for alot of Bioware rpgs, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Or Red Dead 1 n 2.

I did the same when Elle met Nora at the hospital door… just went to get something to eat… was like… theyre gonna make me torture like in GTA5? NO!