The Last of Us 2 is an incredible narrative masterpiece. It’s difficult to put into words the range of emotions that this experience whipped me through, and how it left me feeling scene after scene. I gasped, jumped, smiled, and cried. I found myself hating then empathizing with characters, and likewise, completely siding with others to later question their motives. By the time I came out the other end, the deeply complex character motivation was grounded to my core, and I took on the burden of their affliction. I felt battered and scarred, identifying with characters for the deep pain of their experiences. It’s easily one of the absolute best narrative experiences I have come across.
The writing was extremely clever. They inserted parallels in a way that only enhanced the story, never cheapened. They artfully employed “show, don’t tell” in a way that unveiled information in the most engaging rhythm. And while I was a little hesitant at first to be playing as Abby in the second half, I came to realize this wasn’t just to tell the other side of the story, but to have you feel how complex the situation and people are in this series of painful events. It allowed me to go from initially hating Abby to just feeling hollow and sad for everyone.
As for the gameplay, I found the enhancements and additions to the original title to be sufficient. Yes, it was similar. That’s ok. The prone position added a new dynamic to stealth that I enjoyed, some new weapons kept combat feeling fresh, and hand to hand fighting (and dodging) felt gritty and real.
The environments were truly magnificent. The Naughty Dog artists and designers continue to blow my mind. The joy of gazing on the environments, by itself, is enough reason for a second play through.
And then there is the polish. I always felt immersed into this world. Sure, you can tell it’s linear and “level based” when you run up against the edges of the environments, but there isn’t not much to be done about that.
In the days that followed my completion of this experience I continue to ponder the story. A true sign of a great work of art is when you have a lasting impression. It’s that feeling of when you walk out of the movie theatre and you spend hours rehashing what you just witnessed, and consider the deeper messages. When it comes to The Last of Us 2, there’s a ton of narrative elements one could parse out and overanalyze until the (real) world ends. Here are a few stand outs that really struck me:
Back in April of 2015 I wrote a post titled 11 Tips Not Taught in the Loading Screens for Multiplayer Mode in The Last of Us. With the announcement of the sequel to The Last of Us, excitement is once again brewing around this title, so I spent some time revisiting the multiplayer mode, and today am listing out some additional tips and strategies. Tips are in no particular order.
1. Mark while firing - If you are firing on an enemy, always simultaneously mark them, if not marked already. It's no extra work, and you not only get parts of marking, but you also get parts if a teammate kills the marked target, even if you are already down or dead at that point.
2. Baiting downed allies - This doesn't make you a bad person...honestly. Sometimes baiting a downed teammate in order to down an approaching enemy is the best thing you can do for your team, especially when playing in Interrogation mode. Don't just go charging out in the open to help a teammate up, if it means you are going to get shot down in the process.
3. Run baiting - When you sprint, you appear on the enemy radar. This can be used to your advantage. Try sprinting in one direction, then pivot in a different direction and wait for an unsuspecting enemy to approach.
4. Changing load outs mid-game - Try this out: start with a crafting load out, so that you can quickly craft items from the materials you pick up from lockboxes. Then, after your first death, switch to a more favorable load out. If you upgrade a weapon and then switch to a different load out that has that same weapon, don't worry, because you won't lose the weapon upgrade.
5. Ideal place to die - With the exception of situations where you think you can be helped up or when you are hiding from a potential interrogation, crawl out into the open. That way, if an enemy wants to loot your leftovers, they have to do so without cover.
6. Self terminate - When downed, it's often to your advantage to die quickly, with the exception of when you might be helped up or when playing in Survivor mode, so that you can respawn faster. If this is the case, and you see some enemy molotav fire or an enemy bomb, crawl on top of them. And by taking out that bomb, that's one less bomb for your team to worry about.
7. Trigger enemy bombs while crawling - Similar to the previous point, try crawling over an enemy bomb when an enemy is nearby. That way, you can trigger the bomb and take out the enemy...along with yourself.
8. Block vault objects while down - I know, I have a lot of tips related to crawling around. For this one, the idea is to crawl next to vaulted objects, such as low walls and windows, in order to prevent enemies from jumping over to your side. This can be handy for preventing an enemy from getting an interrogation, or just to throw them off and leave them exposed.
Here is the original list from 2015:
You've checked out Factions MP in The Last of Us, seen all the maps, and have tried out all three modes of play. You've also read all of the loading screen tips, and learned a few things from them. Perhaps you've also toyed around with different load outs and purchased a few upgrades. But what are some additional tactics you could be employing to your advantage? What mistakes are leading to your constant, frustrating death? Check out my tips below, and hopefully they help you out (in no particular order).
Bonus tactic: This one may work well for some, and horrible for others, so give it a try and see what you think.
Factions MP is the multiplayer mode in The Last of Us, and like its single player counterpart, you’ll find yourself shooting, sneaking, crafting, hiding, fleeing, and vaulting over rubble like a dystopian gymnast. There are 3 team modes to play: supply raid (players respawn in real time when killed until your team runs out of reserves), survivors (round based combat), and interrogation (gain intelligence from enemies and then crack open their safe). Players select a mode, a load out (weapons and abilities), and an optional one-use booster that they may have earned during previous sessions (e.g. cheaper purchasable ammo or a starting upgrade to their primary gun). And no, you won’t find any zombies in any of these modes (I’ll comment more on that later in the article).
7 Reasons Why You Should Play
Let’s start by talking about some of the aspects that make Factions MP so great (and in no particular order).
That feeling you get when you shank an enemy
Nothing beats the satisfaction of creeping up behind an oblivious enemy that you have been tracking across the map, grabbing hold of them, and driving a shiv into their neck. It’s the ultimate insult.
Challenges add a layer of complexity
Every so often a challenge is presented to the player, which are divided into negative and positive outcomes that impact your camp, such as a hunter attack that you try to negate or new survivors that are looking to join you. The player has to decide how they want to complete the challenge, selecting from a list of options (e.g. X downs with Y weapon, heal X teammates, or perform X special executions).
The game modes keep things diverse
The 3 modes of play allow for a diverse set of gameplay. Perhaps you are in the mood for an all-out brawl with quick respawns. Then supply raid is your mode. Or maybe you are in the mood for a slow and strategic team based game with friends, in which case survivors is your mode.
Endless load out combinations
Load outs are essentially templates that you draft by combining weapons and abilities. You have a finite amount of load out points, which are used to arrange your gear, and customization is entirely up to you (with the exception of weapons and abilities that cost real cash, if you don’t want to spend the money that is). For example, you may prefer a stealthy approach that you can attain from a bow, covert training, and a silenced pistol (the bow and silenced weapons don’t show up on the enemy radar when fired). Others may go for a support role, opting for the ability to heal teammates and spot enemies from afar.
Your load out will indirectly affect how you use the parts you collect in battle (essentially currency) to purchase upgrades to your weapons, armor, and purchasable weapons. For example, some players save parts for a purchasable weapon, while others use their load out points on abilities, skipping a purchasable, and instead use their parts for weapon upgrades.
I’ve tried a lot of load outs, and at the time of writing this, this is my favorite: revolver, silenced tactical shotgun, agility 2, and covert training 2. I find that having a silenced primary is essential to your survival, as it allows you to get the necessary shots off to get a kill without giving out your location. The revolver is a solid compliment to the shotgun since it has the long-range versatility that the shotgun lacks. Agility level 2 means silent movement as well as the ability to walk, climb, and crawl very quickly, and the speed it provides cannot be overlooked in a game like this. Covert training level 2 pairs quite well with agility 2, as it allows you to crouch walk without appearing in the enemies listen mode. As a bonus, it starts you with a shiv at each spawn.
The needs of your camp take you out of your comfort zone
Every player has their own camp of survivors, and as you play your camp will grow in size, thus needing more supplies to stay well fed and free of sicknesses. One way to gain supplies is to down or execute enemies, and then collect the loot they drop. But sometimes raiding their body isn’t that easy, because the battles can be hectic, so you can’t just always go rushing over to your fallen target out in the open. Thankfully, your radar marks the locations of supply drops, so you can strategically return to them before the game ends, and collect them safely.
As a tip, when you have sick and hungry survivors, use a boost that you collected from completed challenges in order to give you a tactical edge in your next supply run. Avoid the urge to waste boosts when they aren’t needed, unless you have a hefty surplus.
Players automatically communicate
This is a bit of a minor detail, but it’s a prime example of one of the many elements that adds depth to the game. The character voices not only contributes a layer of ambience, but also serves a necessary role in communicating out essential information. If a teammate is shot down and needs help getting back up, he will shout out “I’m down!”. If you dig into your backpack to craft something, your player will ask those nearby to watch his back. Out of ammo? They’ll yell about that too. And from all this, you’ll discover that these situational phrases allow for interesting team-based gameplay without the need for everyone to be chatting over a microphone.
Properly balanced maps
Every multiplayer map is well thought out and fine-tuned for a solid balance. The arrangement of cover and the map sizes keep the action moving quickly without being too chaotic, whereas the placement of supply boxes often force the player to take the risk of exposing themselves (and that’s a good thing for balance and gameplay). Health kits are a bit too easy to come by, especially considering you can also craft them, but that doesn’t disturb the flow of the game. Best of all, there aren’t any overpowered camping spots, and due to the nature of load out points, you see a strong diversity of weapons being selected.
No game is prefect, and the issues I’m listing out are pretty minor as far as multiplayer games go.
Every so often I find that I am inadvertently targeting the wrong enemy, which leads to my demise. Here are a couple of examples:
Rough bullet collision
Occasionally, I will be firing through the window of a dilapidated car or between the railings of a stairway, and by bullets will fail to penetrate through them. In a game where every shot counts, a missed opportunity like this will often turn the table for the enemy.
Everyone’s a critic, I know. And there’s only so much time, resources, and budget to work on a game. But whatever, we can dream, and this is what I wish Factions MP could add in:
All in all, Factions MP is a solid multiplayer experience with enough diversity in weapons, modes, challenges, customization, and tactics to keep each game fresh and fun.
Brian Riggsbee lives in San Francisco CA. He enjoys gaming, writing, creating art, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chasing adorable dogs, and spending time with his wife and boy.