The Best Thing TLOU2 Did That TLOU1 Didn’t

I’ve talked at length about both entries in The Last of Us series. And I probably could go on and on about them. They are my favorite games of all time, and they have meant so much to me. They are the biggest reasons I have gotten through the pandemic without completely losing myself. That’s how much they mean to me.

However, one thing I haven’t really done is compare the two games against each other. At least, it isn’t something I’ve done in depth. Today, I want to that. I want to look at something that The Last of Us Part I didn’t do that the sequel did, and how this thing elevated the sequel. It’s something really small that I don’t think a lot of people would consider, but I think it makes a huge impact. So, let’s get into it.

What TLOU2 Did

Photo Credit: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Identity

The thing that the sequel game did that the first game didn’t was give weight to the enemies and the factions within the world. What I mean by this is that the sequel gives each faction and enemy a clear identity and a clear goal. This wasn’t the case for much of Part I, at least in my opinion.

In TLOU1, the enemies that Joel and Ellie come across are as follows:

  • FEDRA
  • The Hunters
  • David’s Men
  • The Fireflies
  • The infected

If you really think about it, only two of these enemy groups have a true identity and a true goal. You’ve got FEDRA, the military who’s tasked with maintaining order within the Quarantine Zones. And then you’ve got the Fireflies, the rebel group who aim to take down the military and restore world governments and pre-outbreak society. Other than that, it feels kind of broad or bland.

There is an argument that David’s Men fall into the category of having an identity and a goal, but I honestly disagree. The only one in the group that has that has an identity and a goal is David, but his group doesn’t get that, and it makes them feel pretty bland. The Hunters are a disorganized band of people who rose up all over the country, so the goals of the hunters varies depending on where you are. And the infected are literal zombies.

In TLOU2, the enemies you encounter either as Abby or Ellie (or both) are as follows:

  • The infected
  • The Washington Liberation Front (WLF)
  • The Seraphites (Scars)
  • The Rattlers

There aren’t as many enemy factions in the second game, but they’re given so much more weight in this game. Each of them has an identity, with the obvious exception of the infected. And each of them has a goal, barring maybe The Rattlers.

The Washington Liberation Front are a military organization that rose up to fight the FEDRA occupation in Seattle. Their goal is to protect their land, and win their war with the Seraphites. The Seraphites are a religious group with their own laws and traditions. They aim to live a mostly minimalistic lifestyle, and win the war with the WLF. These are the two most prominent enemy factions, and they feel like they are real factions, separate from one another.

Fighting Style/Names

Another way this is done is through their fighting styles. In Part I, every faction barring the infected used guns to try and kill you. There was some variance with the infected, but the encounters with the human enemies felt like the same song and dance after a while. In Part II, there’s even more variance with the infected and human enemies alike.

The WLF are still the militaristic sort to just use guns to kill you, but they can now flank you, and will call out your position if they spot you. The Seraphites are more stealth-oriented. They use bows and arrows a lot, and they communicate through whistles. They also have Brutes, which are basically treated like non-infected clickers because it takes two shives and two headshots to kill them.

This last point I want to make deals with the fact that each non-infected NPC has names. I know this has been meme’d a lot by people who don’t like the game, but I honestly feel like it adds weight to these NPCs, and it creates a different dynamic between the player and the enemies they face. It takes it beyond just mowing down NPCs with a reused character model and no name.

What all of this does is make each encounter feel more immersive and real. Instead of killing NPC #48, you’ve killed Jo, who planned to meet up with her girlfriend when she was finally allowed to go back to the forward base. Instead of killing a random animal, you killed Bear, a dog loved by many in his faction. You get the point I’m making.

Conclusion

Whereas TLOU1 had engaging combat arenas, Part II took it even further. They brought you into that world by giving these factions a distinct identity, names, and even backstories. It added weight to these encounters, which creates more tension, which creates more engagement. At least for me anyway.

Your opinion on the story aside, this is definitely one aspect of the sequel that is so much more compelling than the first game, and the sequel is much better off for it.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support the work I do, please consider donating to my ko-fi! Thank you for reading!

Featured Photo Credit: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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I am pursuing a bachelor's in communication, and am using this blog to write about an array of topics such as sports and video games.

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Tristin McKinstry

I am pursuing a bachelor's in communication, and am using this blog to write about an array of topics such as sports and video games.