After years of waiting, fans of The Last of Us movie will be able to lay their hands on its highly anticipated second episode on June 19. Our test will be published on June 12, but we are offering you a taste of it today by sharing our impressions of a long game session of almost 3 hours, guaranteed without spoiler.
In September 2019, we already had the opportunity to put our hands on two specific sequences of the next Naughty Dog title. The first featured Dina and Ellie patrolling in a snowy setting, the second made us play Ellie alone in a residential area, at a more advanced stage of the adventure. This is also the case for this new game session, which however takes place in a different setting, while Ellie is en route to a hospital in Seattle.
The Last of Us 2: A similar structure enriched with additional elements
In terms of structure and level design, The Last of Us Part II does not upset the formula of the first episode, at least on this sequence. You are always free to opt for a frontal or infiltration-oriented approach and the levels offer some alternative paths through slightly more open areas, even if the progression remains generally linear. On the other hand, the optional zones bring a real plus here and prove to be as rich in short stories as interesting by their playability. Very early in the sequence, Ellie can thus advance towards the hospital or linger in a nearby abandoned building: an out-of-service elevator and some useful items for crafting objects can be recovered there, while a closed room full of resources and seems inaccessible at first.
A brief glance around allows you to consider a way to enter: by breaking the windows of the room and those covering the outside porch, you release a point of support allowing to hang the nearby electric cable, then use it to swing inside the closed room. A little later, the discovery of a note made by a woman intended for her husband evoking “a safe to be opened based on our wedding anniversary date” then a calendar with annotations will allow you to open the said safe with a minimum of logic. Without being particularly complex, these small sequences requiring observation (because neither Ellie nor any clue of interface guides you towards the solution) prove to be pleasant because they never use the same spring here. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to keep this variety throughout the game.
Another interesting annex building was also to be highlighted, by its ability to offer a simple glimpse of the harshness of the world The Last of Us, all through a surprising event as much narrated by the action that takes place at the screen only with the documents you can find next. We hardly want to say more about this event, as it would be a shame not to find out for yourself. The Californian studio seems to have once again taken care of its universe by trying to introduce life (or what is left of it …) and meaning to each environment. If we do not want to tell you too much about this passage, let us note all the same that this session allowed us to come across a magazine unlocking a new branch of skill: “explosives”, which as its name suggests, allows you for a few supplements (the pills that are found everywhere) to spend skill points to unlock the different bonuses present in this tree.
It would also be fairer to speak of skill columns since each branch is here dedicated to a specific type of skill (explosives, but also survival, infiltration, etc.) that it is necessary to unlock one after the other. other. You are free to choose in which branch to spend your supplements, but within each branch, learning remains linear. Unlike the textbook system in the first installment, you, therefore, do not get a single bonus per magazine you retrieve. An approach that fits perfectly with the overall tone of The Last of Us 2, which is more “realistic” than its predecessor.
Know your enemy
Throughout the streak, Ellie obviously doesn’t just explore the area and faces many types of enemies. On the infected side, we had the opportunity to get rid of runners, prowlers, and slappers who resume their style of play and their movements from the first game, while on the human side, an armed group called the WLF and a another in a more primary style, the Scars, regularly came to block our way.
Unlike the members of the WLF, they use bows and allowed us to discover an element which had been announced, but which we had not yet seen at work lever in hand: when it is hit by an arrow, Ellie must then remove the latter (the action is carried out by means of the R1 key) on pain of regularly losing life thereafter. Contrary to what we might think after the release of the demo of E3 2018, it is not a scripted element, but a game mechanic with which you will have to deal during your game.
And since we are talking about the sequence of E3 2018, know that it was precisely in the middle of the session, shortly before our arrival at the hospital. Some changes are noticeable since its first presentation, like the construction of the store street at the end or the triggering of the initial cutscene which does not take place in the same place, but the playing field remains broadly similar, offering verticality by through the multi-story car park and the means of hiding by lying under a truck or squatting in the tall grass. This is a constant of the areas explored during our session: whether they are open, closed, indoors, or outdoors, these offer enough corners and possibilities to make infiltration flexible and pleasant.
More importantly than any other title, enemies seem to spot you more easily, even when you are in the tall grass. This point, moreover supported by Neil Druckmann in the last State of Play, is confirmed lever in hand even if we will emit here some nuances: this observation is worth more for the enemies in front of you, their field of vision proving rather limited in width. They are also too predictable in their patrol routines, but the game has the good idea to actually break these famous loops in the event of an unwelcome event (a noise, a body discovered or even the fact of having spotted you, for example ), which makes the rest of the sequence more random, although the full arsenal of our heroine is generally enough to get rid of your opponents easily with a little common sense and application.
Infiltration more than the frontal approach
Speaking of arsenal precisely, the system of limited durability no longer applies here at all to the surin that you can use as much as you want, but still concerns the melee weapon that it is elsewhere possible to improve using some of the tools found in the environment. Believe us, it will be very useful if you are spotted, because melee clashes can quickly turn against you: despite his flexibility allowing him to dodge the blows, Ellie is never as formidable only when it acts in the shade and uses its palette of tools wisely.
The crafting system remains quite close to that of the first one and concerns as much the support elements (care kit, silent) as others more offensive (creation of arrows, reinforcement of the hand-to-hand weapon ), exploiting the different types of resources (cloth, alcohol, scissors, etc.) that you will find in the environment. It does, however, offer a few new features as you unlock skills, such as the ability to unlock explosive arrows. The latter offers a spectacle that we will not recommend to sensitive souls since the damage is localized and can cause particularly credible dismemberments.
To return briefly to the melee, stronger human enemies are obviously to be expected since we encountered one capable of withstanding two shots from a shotgun fired at non-lethal locations. The clashes offer in any case a very realistic rendering which is also perfectly suited to experience: like arrows, a well-placed shotgun easily for example Ellie on the ground, making any counterattack more difficult. Once spotted, you will therefore more often tend to favor escape or try to hide again than to opt for a full-frontal option, Ellie’s health emptying at high speed even on normal difficulty.
On the other hand, in this same difficulty and by succeeding in a majority of the infiltration sequences without being spotted, the resources seemed to us quite abundant all the same, to the point of having to regularly leave them aside. We will have to see if this is confirmed over time.
Combined, this session also reserved other discoveries that you could partly see in the new gameplay of the recent State of Play, which represented the very end of the sequence: brief relatively underwater passages (but particularly stunning modeling of realism, it must be admitted), this easter-egg where we surprise a young woman playing PS Vita, or these collectible superhero cards. But the idea remained here especially to evoke the interesting novelties and the general sensations of this session since we had already tackled many new elements of the title during our previous handling of The Last of Us Part II dating from September 2019 If you missed it, it’s not too late to catch up.
This last contact with The Last of Us Part II before the release of the test is tantalizing and confirms our excellent first impressions about it. Without upsetting its initial formula, the title of Naughty Dog manages in less than 3 hours to show the diversity of the situations that you will have to face, offering some welcome side elements, tension, infiltration, action and a grip enriched by the character of Ellie, which augurs for an immersive and engaging adventure. Will it really be? This part of the game leads us to believe that yes, but for a title particularly awaited on its narrative dimension, the final answer can only take place once the adventure has ended in its entirety. An appointment is therefore made for the exit from the test, in a few days.
- A Complex & Emotional Story-Experience the escalating moral conflicts created by Ellie's relentless pursuit of Vengeance. The cycle of violence left in her wake will challenge your notions of right versus wrong, good versus evil, and hero versus villain.
- A Beautiful Yet Dangerous World - Set out on Ellie's journey, taking her from the peaceful mountains and forests of Jackson to the lush, overgrown ruins of greater Seattle. Encounter new survivor groups, and terrifying evolutions of the infected.
- Tense & Desperate Action-Survival Gameplay - New & evolved gameplay systems deliver upon the life-or-death stakes of Ellie's journey through the hostile world.