Revisiting: How Many Enemies Are You Forced To Kill In TLOU2?

I have been writing articles like this since I was 14. Most of the writing I’ve done is about sports because that was and in a way still is one of my first passions. However, in July 2020, I broadened my horizons. I wrote what was a documented pacifist run I did while playing The Last of Us Part II. The motivation behind the article had to do with an argument that seemed to have two parts. The argument was that the game forced you to kill hundreds of enemies, and then the game tried to make you feel bad about these killings by having you play as a character affiliated with the same faction as a lot of those enemies.

Two days ago, I was browsing the r/thelastofus subreddit, and I saw this post by user Altruistic_Band_2511. It was a post about how they weren’t a fan of the arguments that claim TLOU2 suffers from ludonarrative dissonance, a term I covered in my Ghost of Tsushima review. In short, the term describes a disconnect between the story being told through a game’s narrative and the story being told through gameplay. The top comment on that post is from user SoMuchForLongevity, who linked my pacifist run while making an argument about why they believe there is ludonarrative dissonance in TLOU2.

This piece isn’t about ludonarrative dissonance or responding to any argument. I’m not interested in trying to combat someone’s opinion on this game. I’ve been down that road, and I don’t care about debating every opinion I disagree with anymore. My motivations for this piece comes from a few different places. That discussion in that Reddit thread sparked in part because of my piece is one. Another is the fact that my article seems to be the only documented pacifist run that’s shared around. It doesn’t happen a crazy amount, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it linked by people who aren’t me. I’m also no longer affiliated with 366 Sports and knowing the people they employ and the way they operate, I have no desire to be. So I’m reclaiming my work.

The main reason, however, is that I honestly don’t think my work was that good. It’s certainly not that well thought out. And I think there are things that I could have brought up that I didn’t because I was too concerned with epically owning the anti-SJWs who lack media literacy skills. If I’m going to reclaim my work, I’m going to make it better. My documentation of this pacifist run will be me atoning for not being clear about what my goals were and what I was and wasn’t looking for. Speaking of what I’m looking for, let’s get into some rules for this run:

  1. I will count all kills that are required to progress the story on Ellie and Abby’s side of the game and organize them into two subcategories for each character. The first is kills in which you press a button and that button press leads to death. To provide a clarifying example, let’s look at Owen and Mel’s deaths. A button is pressed before both deaths, but the button press before Owen’s death opens a door to trigger a cutscene. The button press before Mel’s death directly causes Mel’s death. Mel’s death would count towards this subcategory’s total, while Owen’s death wouldn’t. The second subcategory is kills that are required but can be carried out by the NPC companions. I will also keep a count of the amount of non-infected kills and infected kills.

If you just want to scroll to the end to find the final numbers, feel free to do so. I will separate this into sections and provide a bit of commentary on the encounters as I go. With no further ado, let’s get started.

Prologue

Abby encounters the first enemies of the game, but they’re easy to get past. She’s attacked by an infected hiding in the snow, and after a struggle, they fall to a lower wooded area. Other infected will attempt to attack you, but there’s a house nearby you can escape into. The first forced kill occurs not in this house, but under it. You have to crawl under the house to get out, and infected blocks the entrance. You must kill this infected to progress.

There’s another house close to this one you run into, but you can avoid killing these infected. The same goes for the infected that you encounter after hopping the nearby fence. We switch back to Ellie, who’s patrolling with Dina. These two don’t encounter enemies until reaching the supermarket. You find a runner eating a moose leg when you first enter that needs to die, but Dina can kill this. In the next room, there’s a scripted moment where Ellie throws a bottle at a runner and stabs it in the head. This is unavoidable.

There is another area of infected that you must kill to progress, but Dina can take care of these as well. Ellie gets jumped by an infected after crawling under a truck, but she’s saved by Dina. In the supermarket, we encounter clickers for the first time, and once again, they need to be killed, which Dina can do. There’s one last group of enemies in this supermarket you must clear out, and once again, Dina can do this. These are the last enemies you’ll face as Ellie in the prologue.

Switching to Abby, she’s running from a horde. You don’t have to kill any of the infected in this horde. After being saved by Joel, you run into a hallway with Tommy. He throws a Molotov and I believe it kills four infected on impact, but this admittedly isn’t the best count because I had to run away before I was absolutely sure. I’m going to count this as four NPC kills. During the section where Tommy pushes the gondola towards the window, I saw Joel kill nine infected, so I’m going to count those kills. He kills another one on the way to the room where Tommy introduces them to Abby.

And that’s it for the prologue. In the prologue, there are 16 forced kills on Ellie’s side, all infected and only one needs to be carried out by the player. On Abby’s side, there are 10 forced kills, also all infected and only one needs to be carried out by the player. Let’s move on to Seattle.

Seattle Day 1 (Ellie)

The first enemies that I encountered on Day 1 were in the courthouse while looking for gas. You have no choice but to kill the enemies in the upper level of this courthouse. Sneaking to the door that leads downstairs just alerts the infected. The infected in the parking garage also must be killed to continue, and Dina can take care of these as well. The next enemies I encountered were outside of the synagogue. These two encounters are the first two on Ellie’s side that you can bypass killing no enemies.

Once you have your gas and are out of the open-world section, we move to the Serevena Base. These infected also have to be killed, and once again, Dina can do this on her own. After the Serevena Base, the two girls are ambushed, and we have Ellie’s first forced human kill. Dina will show up to prevent Mike from killing you on Isaac’s orders, but she’ll fall through the glass ceiling. Jordan, one of Abby’s friends, will attempt to choke Dina out. You must run up and stab him in the throat to progress the story.

And now, I am pleased to report the first big difference between the two pacifist runs. During the school shootout, I said that you had to kill the first two enemies that you face or else Dina wouldn’t follow you. However, this is not the case. She followed me this time, and I could get through the school without killing a single enemy. It wasn’t easy, even with invisible while prone (IWP henceforth), but I got it done. Yay to me.

You encounter some WLF patrols on your way to the TV station, but you can stealth by them killing none of them. You encounter some infected as well, but the WLF’s explosive traps can kill them. At the TV station, you’ll run into a WLF patrol after finding Leah’s body, but you do not have to kill any of these enemies. You can run right into the set-piece that takes you and Dina to the train station.

The train station doesn’t bring much until the end. You can stealth by the WLF patrol you first see, and you can get by the infected when the girls first see a shambler. There’s another infected encounter after that which doesn’t require any kills. You come out to a train wreck that doesn’t contain any enemies, at least until a set-piece is triggered at the end. This set-piece sees the two girls running from a horde of infected, and Dina has to kill two infected to save your life. And thus ends Day 1.

During Day 1, Ellie and Dina are forced to kill 21 enemies. Dina kills 20 enemies, Ellie kills one. All of Dina’s kills are infected, and Ellie’s kill is a non-infected enemy.

Seattle Day 2 (Ellie)

Ellie encounters the WLF rather quickly during Day 2, but there aren’t any forced kills early on. There’s a WLF patrol that is difficult to stealth by, but it can be done. The same goes for the infected encounters after that. The first forced kill comes in the garage of a house. You’re jumped by a stalker, and you have to kill it. I’m playing on New Game+ but if this is your first playthrough, you’ll get the bow and arrow after this stalker encounter.

You can get by every encounter killing no one until you met up with Jesse. The first combat encounter with him requires the four WLF soldiers to be killed to get the keys to a truck. A set-piece begins, and during this set-piece, Ellie has to kill three enemies: a WLF soldier that grabs Jesse, the driver of a WLF truck chasing you down, and a clicker that Jesse runs over but doesn’t die. The clicker doesn’t die in the water, either. It’ll kill you if you don’t shoot it yourself. Jesse kills a runner that grabs you during this set-piece, as well.

After the flashback, you set off for the hospital on your own. The first combat encounter is a building full of stalkers, but you can get through this building killing none of them. After escaping that building, you’ll find yourself in a different part of that same building that’s also full of infected. And, much like the first encounter, you don’t need to kill these infected. However, once you leave this room, you’re ambushed by a stalker and the two of you crash through a window into the rapids below. You must kill this stalker or else you’ll be killed.

After escaping the Seattle sewer system, Ellie runs into the Seraphites for the first time. These guys are a nightmare to sneak by, but it can be done. With enough perseverance and enough patience to start your own doctor’s office, you too can sneak by these guys without killing a single one of them. Even when you first encounter the Seraphite brute. That fight, in particular, is a bitch to get through, but it is possible.

You can complete the WLF hospital killing no one. However, Nora’s death at the end counts. It is never shown that she’s killed, but it is implied, and we have to mash square to progress past that part of the game. So, I’m counting it. That ends things for Ellie’s Day 2. On this day, there are 11 forced kills. Ellie has to kill six enemies, and Jesse killed the other five. Ellie kills three non-infected and three infected enemies.

Seattle Day 3 (Ellie)

There isn’t much to talk about with Day 3. You can get by the WLF patrol outside the conference center, killing no one, and the same goes for the next patrol you encounter. Jesse and Ellie separate after the latter insists on going after Abby instead of investigating the marina, and that’s the last time Ellie has an NPC companion the rest of the game.

You can complete the section where you need to steal the boat without killing a single enemy. It’s difficult, even with IWP, but it can happen. Expect to nearly die while trying to get the boat out of the mall if you’re playing on higher difficulties like I am in this playthrough. After getting the boat, there are two combat encounters left. One is a shootout between the WLF and Seraphites. This can be avoided by simply continuing to drive the boat through the dilapidated building the Seraphites are in. Next is an encounter with a Bloater in an arcade. You have to kill the infected that attack to advance. For me, it was five, but it may be less than that on lower difficulties. In my last piece, I seemed to have only counted the bloater. I played on Very Light+ that time, and I know for a fact that there were more enemies I faced than just that bloater. An error on my part that’s now rectified.

The only kills that count after this are the dog that attacks in the aquarium and Mel’s death. Skipping the cutscene after opening the door to the room they’re in skips Owen’s death and takes you straight to the quick-time event that kills Mel, so that’s another reason her death counts and his doesn’t.

This ends Ellie’s section of the playthrough. On Day 3, there are seven forced kills, and Ellie makes all of them. Five of them are infected, and two of them aren’t. Let’s move on to Abby’s section.

Seattle Day 1 (Abby)

Abby’s Day 1 starts with her getting ambushed while trying to get to the FOB. In my last piece, I mentioned Mel killed one Seraphite but Abby didn’t have to kill anyone. I mentioned this kill may have been scripted. Upon replaying this on Grounded+, I think this is right. Mel killed one Seraphite at the very beginning of the set-piece, but never even hit another enemy the rest of the set-piece. And Abby didn’t have to do much with her rifle.

Entering the warehouse, there are three infected you encounter, but they do not need to be killed. Abby can climb the big shelf thing she needs to climb and jump across to the one that falls over. A clicker will attempt to attack her, but she’s saved by the dog and doesn’t need to shoot it. I am not entirely confident in my count with this encounter because some bodies seemed to have disappeared before I could count them, but I believe there were eight NPC kills here, including the clicker the dog kills at the start. You have to kill these infected to progress.

There are two encounters with the Seraphites after this. One is in a train yard, and this doesn’t require any kills to get through. The second one is at a gas station and is a timed event. They pin Abby and her friends down inside of this gas station until a WLF patrol arrives and kills all the Seraphites to save the day. I’ll count their kills in this total. Abby doesn’t have to kill anyone.

When Abby sets out on her own, the first enemy you encounter is a clicker that ambushes you while you’re squeezing through this tight space to get to another part of a building. I originally thought you had to kill this clicker, but it turns out you don’t. I lured it outside, threw a bottle at it, ran towards that space, and made it to the other side without killing the clicker. The encounters from this point don’t require kills until you get to the infected jungle.

In the jungle, Yara and Lev save Abby, and we briefly get NPCs. I counted six stalkers I killed with the hammer and one that Lev had killed. A stalker tackles Yara, and Abby kills another three stalkers. I tried to see if Lev could kill them, but it didn’t seem like it was happening. Abby’s first non-infected kill comes as a mini-boss fight against a Seraphite brute that stole her backpack. Next comes a building full of infected. There are three infected in this building that Lev can clear out before he and Yara go to unlock the front door.

You have to fight off waves of infected while Yara and Lev find a way out for you. I counted 15 infected I killed before Lev called out from the ambulance in the building's side. After getting them to a safe place for the night, Abby continues. There are only two sections that have any enemies: the enemies outside of the shipping yard and the boat on the coast. Abby doesn’t have to kill any of these enemies, so we’re done for Day 1.

There is a whopping 43 forced kills on Day 1 for Abby. She kills 25 on her own, and only one of them is a non-infected enemy.

Seattle Day 2 (Abby)

Your first combat encounter comes very early in Day 2. Abby returns to the shipping yard on the coast to find Lev and Yara and runs into some Seraphites. This one is tricky, but I could get through it by killing no enemies. There’s a good amount of downtime after this, with the next combat encounter coming with Abby and Lev facing some infected on their way to the sky bridges.

You can run these infected by without killing them. There is a shambler among these infected, just like on the infected boat, so exercise caution. A short while later, Abby and Lev climb a ladder and are ambushed by four Seraphites. For people that have played the game before, this is the encounter where Lev asks Abby if she wants to ask him about the Seraphites using his dead name. In my last piece, I had an accessibility option on called Allies Don’t Get Grabbed, which is self-explanatory. I didn’t have it on this time, and when I tried to stealth through this encounter, Lev got grabbed. I turned the option back on and replayed the encounter, and once again, Lev got grabbed as soon as I started climbing the ladder. This leads me to believe that their conversation at the end is a scripted moment and not an optional one. Lev can take care of these Seraphites, and we move on.

We make our way outside, and once again we run into some Seraphites. This is one of my favorite encounters in the same, but you can complete it without killing an enemy. Which is cool when you’ve got very little ammo on you, but enough about my pain. You won’t run into any more enemies until after you fall off the sky bridge and into the hotel pool. You make your way to the lower levels and find that the building is full of infected enemies. These encounters look cool, but you can get by them killing none of them.

Now we get to the Rat King and the bloater/stalker thing that detaches itself from that. I hate to break it to you all, but there’s no way around the Rat King that I found. With the other infected, I have heard people say that they could get around this encounter without killing it. That they could leave without engaging. However, I’ve never been able to. When I go to the door, I don’t get the option to open it and leave. So it forced me to kill it, and I’m counting it as a kill, which ends our Day 2.

Here on Day 2, there are six forced kills. Lev kills four, all non-infected enemies. Abby kills two infected.

Seattle Day 3 (Abby)

There is a forced encounter very early in this section, and it is one of the worst encounters yet. I cannot believe Naughty Dog actually put this in their game. Naughty Dog forces you, on Day 3… to play fetch with a dog. Oh, the horror. Hopefully, there isn’t a huge contingent of the internet that gets mad at this.

All jokes aside, there aren’t any combat encounters until Lev takes a boat and sails to his island. Abby and Yara give chase, but Abby gets tied up helping Manny deal with Tommy snipping at the marina. You can use IWP to get by the sniper part relatively quickly. If you do, Manny will ask Abby how she did it and she’ll respond “dumb fucking luck?” which I thought was cool. Anyway, the two waves of infected that Tommy attracts to you don’t need to be killed. And, at least for me, IWP didn’t work here. I just hauled ass and ran through to the next section. There are no required kills during the marina section.

Mostly, you’re not required to kill anyone on the Seraphite island either. You can get through every encounter until you find Lev. And there aren’t any combat encounters until after Yara is killed. The first encounter is with some WLF in a flooded building. You can swim to the door and get through killing no one. The battle between the WLF and Seraphites near the fast-food place can also don’t require a kill.

After this, a set-piece ensues where Abby and Lev ride on a horse near the burning inferno of Haven. During this set-piece, there are three forced NPC kills. Lev stabs a soldier who jumps on the horse and kills two Seraphites in a cornfield who try to chase us down. During the cornfield sequence, you’ll have to fire your gun at least once to prevent yourself from dying. I don’t know why it wouldn’t let me ride through without firing, but I had to shoot at their horse for it to work without Abby killing any of the enemies. There’s another WLF-Seraphite battle after the horse flees, but you don’t need to kill any of them to proceed.

There’s one last combat encounter in this section, and it’s the last forced kill of the entire game. The Seraphite Brute boss fight after escaping the burning building must be killed by Abby to proceed. And that’s right folks, this is the last forced kill of the entire game. There are no more forced kills on Day 3, and the Santa Barbara sections for both Ellie and Abby don’t require any forced kills at all, meaning we are done.

On Day 3 for Abby, there are four forced kills. Lev kills three non-infected enemies, and Abby kills one non-infected.

Final Findings

  • When controlling Ellie, the player is forced to kill 15 enemies. Six of them are non-infected, and nine of them are.

Compared To The Last Piece

I didn’t keep track of nearly the same amount of things last time I did this, so there are bound to be differences. The first major difference is the total kill count. I documented an extra four kills the player must execute as Ellie, and an extra five kills her NPCs must carry out. On Abby’s side, I found nine more kills the player must execute, and I documented 14 fewer kills for her NPCs. I documented four more total kills in this run than in the last one. I said the total kill count was 118 in the last run, which was a miscalculation. It was 119.

I also found a few encounters I could get by this time that I couldn’t last time. The first was the elementary school on Ellie’s Day 1. In my last piece, I said you had to kill two enemies to move on. On this run, I found you didn’t have to kill these enemies, and you could get through the school killing no one. The clicker that ambushes Abby about halfway through her Day 1 also doesn’t need to be killed, which surprised me. I figured there was no way around it the first time and just shot it. I didn’t count that kill, because I didn’t write about it in the last piece even though I killed the clicker.

I think we can attribute some of these differences to the difference in difficulty. I played on the lowest difficulty the first time around, and the highest difficulty this time around. Certain sections of the game spawn more enemies depending on your difficulty settings. The bloater fight in the arcade with Ellie is the prime example of this. I think two enemies spawned alongside the bloater the first time, but this time there were five. The difficulty played a part in some of these differences.

So, that’s it. This will probably be my last attempt at a pacifist run for this game. At least it’s the last time I will document such an attempt. I hope you found the findings interesting, and I can’t wait to hear from you. If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, either in a comment or response here or on Twitter.

If you would like to see more articles like this, please consider supporting me with a small donation. You can donate through my ko-fi page. I appreciate all your support!

Photo Credit: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Tristin McKinstry

Associate Editor for ClutchPoints. San Antonio Brahmas reporter for XFL News Hub. Also worked previously with The Inquisitr.