The Final of Us 2 is an emotional, charming gut-punch that explores themes of vengeance, tribalism, and the grey areas of morality, making it not solely the sport of the yr, however of this technology.

Evaluate Data

Time performed: 30 hours

Platform: PS4

This evaluate accommodates spoilers for The Final of Us.

Troy Baker tried to warn us. The voice-over actor, who portrays Joel in The Final of Us sequence, advised us that we weren’t prepared for The Final of Us 2 – and he was proper. Whether or not you’ve caught spoilers, watched trailers or simply have your individual expectations of what The Final of Us 2 will entail, you will not be ready for the emotional influence of this gorgeous sequel – and there’s nothing like experiencing it first-hand.

The Final of Us 2 is a charming masterpiece. Not solely does it enhance on its predecessor, but it surely trumps each PS4 recreation that has launched this technology. That’s down not solely to the emotive and nuanced storytelling, which confidently exceeds the boundaries of what we all know video games may be, however in the best way the sport takes a critically-acclaimed formulation and elevates it past what we may have imagined. And it does so with out submitting to the tropes we’re so used to seeing in video games.

However this exploration of recent floor does not imply that developer Naughty Canine has strayed from the core parts of the sequence. Contaminated nonetheless lurk within the shadows of desolate buildings, we’re nonetheless offered with gorgeous, misplaced worlds that solely provide pockets of exploration off the crushed monitor, and we once more turn out to be emotionally tied to the fantastically developed characters laid earlier than us.  

Nonetheless, with The Final of Us having been launched seven years in the past, there are many welcome changes and additions to modernize what may, within the unique recreation, typically be a clunky expertise. In The Final of Us 2, fight is extra fluid however measured, bearing in mind not solely how a personality would strategy a state of affairs, however how their physicality informs their strengths and weaknesses, whereas small however important enhancements to weapon and ability upgrades enable for extra management over your playstyle.

All these points come collectively to create a sequel that will not disappoint, and which can have you torn however enraptured from cutscene to cutscene. It has been a rocky highway to The Final of Us 2, plagued with delays and spoiler leaks, however we are able to guarantee you that it’s been well worth the wait. If there’s yet one more current-gen recreation you choose up this yr, make it The Final of Us 2.

  • What’s it? The sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Final of Us
  • Launch Date? June 19, 2020
  • What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
  • Value? Customary version is roughly $59.99/£49.99/AU$69

A historical past of violence

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

  • Explores tribalism and revenge, and blurs the traces of morality
  • Additional develops the relationships constructed beforehand
  • Avoids tropes and stereotypes

The Final of Us noticed grizzled smuggler Joel tasked with escorting angsty teenager Ellie by way of a post-apocalyptic United States on a mission to discover a militia group referred to as the Fireflies, who’re residing within the Massachusetts State Home exterior the quarantine zone. In the course of the journey, it involves gentle that Ellie is resistant to the an infection that has ravaged the globe, and that the Fireflies need her to allow them to try and develop a treatment. However when it seems that the Fireflies at that location have been killed, Joel and Ellie journey to Jackson County, Wyoming to enlist the assistance of Joel’s brother Tommy, an ex-Firefly, to find the group.

Seems the Fireflies are in Saint Mary’s Hospital in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah. So, lengthy story brief, the pair journey to the hospital, the place they discover the militia group. Nonetheless, Marlene, the pinnacle of the Fireflies, tells Joel that Ellie is being prepped for surgical procedure and that, to be able to discover a treatment, the contaminated a part of Ellie’s mind should be eliminated – which might finally kill her.

Joel, who’s positively not on board with this plan, kills all of the Fireflies and flees with Elllie, who, on this lengthy journey, has turn out to be like a daughter to him. The pair return to Jackson, however Joel lies to Ellie about their escape, telling her that the Fireflies had discovered different immune individuals and that they couldn’t discover a treatment, so she was free to go. 

“Every emotional sequence is better played than spoken about. Trust us.”

The Final of Us 2 picks up the story roughly 4 years after its predecessor. Ellie and Joel now reside alongside Joel’s brother Tommy in a settlement in Jackson County, the place they’ve constructed lives the perfect they’ll contemplating the harmful and unpredictable state of the world.

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Nonetheless, the connection between Ellie and Joel is turning into strained, with Ellie having doubts about what actually occurred with the Fireflies, and Joel struggling to loosen the reigns on the (now grown) girl that he as soon as put his life on the road to guard. 

Instantly we turn out to be immersed within the lives of the characters once more, despite the fact that their relationship has modified drastically from after we left them. Naughty Canine leverages the bond we developed with Joel and Ellie in a manner that has you actually feeling the heartbreak on either side. 

After a sequence of harrowing occasions, Ellie leaves Jackson in the hunt for revenge, heading to Seattle in pursuit of members of a brand new militia group that has popped up instead of the Fireflies: the Washington Liberation Entrance (WLF or Wolves for brief). 

We’re not going to let you know any greater than that in regards to the subsequent occasions on this evaluate, since you actually do have to expertise it first-hand. Each emotional sequence is best performed than spoken about – belief us.

Ethical minefield

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

Whereas The Final of Us primarily explored the connection between Ellie and Joel, The Final of Us 2 goes far past that. You would be forgiven for pondering it is a easy bloody revenge story, and Naughty Canine may have fallen into that trope. 

As an alternative, we embark on a narrative that blurs the traces between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘dangerous guys’, typically in a manner that is laborious to digest, and by which an ‘us versus them’ mentality turns into way more sophisticated when everybody is solely out to outlive. Extra connects us than separates us, and Naughty Canine’s nuanced storytelling exposes parallels between Ellie and people she sees because the ‘different’ in delicate however highly effective methods.

“Every line in The Last of Us 2 earns its place, carefully considered and carrying emotional weight.”

Maybe the toughest tablet to swallow is that we’re compelled to observe Ellie lose herself and what she cares about because of a vendetta, whereas being complicit in her violent actions, after which witness the implications of these actions for others. 

Whereas different video games have dipped their toes within the waters of fleshing out ‘enemy’ characters, offering them with a tragic backstory or some redeeming attribute, The Final of Us 2 goes a step additional. You are feeling empathy for the opposite facet, and your emotions in regards to the protagonists shift; it is uncomfortable, and a real testomony to Naughty Canine’s storytelling.

Each line in The Final of Us 2 earns its place, fastidiously thought of and carrying emotional weight, with fantastically scripted scenes the inquisitive will encounter, however which gamers in a rush may miss fully.

This thoughtfulness runs by way of the veins of the sport. We see a level of range that should not be an accomplishment for recreation within the trendy age. We’re offered with various physique sorts, typically atypical of the bikini-clad girls we nonetheless typically see in trendy media; a spread of ethnicities, avoiding the lazy stereotypes typically assigned to them; and there is an exploration of gender and sexuality that does not really feel compelled or disingenuous, and which avoids the pitfalls of acquainted tropes. 

We’re not in Jackson anymore…

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

  • Rewarding pockets of exploration 
  • New collectibles
  • An improved and extra detailed world

The Final of Us 2 reveals us in additional element the gorgeous world we fell in love with the primary time spherical. Whilst you cannot discover each location as completely because the curious amongst us would possibly wish to, you will wish to take time to absorb the grim ambiance, significantly the smaller particulars, earlier than venturing down the linear path set earlier than you. 

And that is to not say there aren’t areas to research. There are little pockets of exploration obtainable when you have to scavenge assets and collectibles, and infrequently, benefiting from these can result in you triggering scenes you would have in any other case missed fully, and which add layers to the lore and character improvement. We implore you to soak up as a lot as potential however, as Naughty Canine beforehand mentioned, there are many scripted scenes you will in all probability miss the primary time round; it is a recreation that calls for to be performed once more.

The variance in places will come as a welcome change for many who grew bored with the rehash of desolate condominium buildings on provide in The Final of Us, typically different solely by seasons. As an alternative, there are adjustments in each the environments you discover and within the methods you need to use them to your benefit in fight – which we’ll come again to.

Whereas exploring is not necessary in The Final of Us 2, gamers who select to can anticipate a extra fleshed-out expertise. There are artifacts, typically within the type of paperwork, which give additional insights into the sport’s story, whereas those that love to gather gadgets can choose up buying and selling playing cards alongside the best way. 

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There’s additionally an occasional protected – with a code seemingly close by – that may grant you plenty of helpful assets. And you are going to need as a lot of these as you may seize for crafting and upgrades.

Small however key enhancements

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

  • Extra traversal choices
  • Improved ability improve choices
  • Upgrades tailor-made to your playstyle

Maybe our favourite enchancment over The Final of Us is to the improve system. The place The Final of Us noticed Joel accumulating dietary supplements to enhance particular skills, The Final of Us 2 affords completely different ability branches, permitting you to make use of dietary supplements to improve particular branches of skills resembling stealth, precision and explosives. You possibly can unlock new branches by discovering coaching manuals – however these are straightforward to overlook, so maintain your wits about you.

As Naughty Canine beforehand warned, assets are in brief provide, and so you have to be a bit extra choosy about what you select to improve than you could be in one other recreation.

“Resources are in short supply, and so you need to be a bit more picky with what you choose to upgrade.”

This additionally applies to weapon upgrades, which may be unlocked with scavenged supplies. Every time you discover a few of these supplies you solely get a handful, and every weapon upgrades requires a substantial quantity. As well as, workbenches are few and much between – and once you do discover one, you might be pissed off to search out that you do not have sufficient supplies to improve something. 

Whereas it may be troublesome to decide on what to improve, these enhancements do permit you to adapt Ellie extra to your playstyle. As well as, there are extra crafting choices typically, together with completely different arrow sorts, alongside well being kits, mines and the power to make melee weapons deadlier. It actually relies upon the way you wish to play.

Outdoors of crafting and upgrades, traversal has additionally been improved. You are ceaselessly offered with small puzzles that you should remedy to ensure that your character to climb over partitions and entry buildings out of attain. To maneuver round these new areas you’ve got received a number of extra traversal choices, resembling uncommon events to make the most of ropes, a devoted bounce button (lastly) and the power to each crouch and crawl – helpful for hiding underneath autos and in lengthy grass. They’re small however welcome adjustments that provides traversal considerably of a recent coat of paint.

Submit-apocalyptic arsenal

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

  • New dodge capacity and different fight choices
  • Extra emphasis on calculated fight
  • Fight is fluid and weighted to physicality

No two methods about it: the Final of Us 2 is a violent affair. Whereas the violence is not gratuitous, and performs a component within the general narrative, you are going to have to get used to the truth that Ellie just about slices and dices everybody she encounters.

However merely going into fight full-throttle is not all the time the perfect concept in The Final of Us 2. As an alternative, we discovered that taking a extra calculated, stealthy strategy appeared to lead to higher outcomes – and there are lots extra fight choices to facilitate that.

For instance, in an occasion the place Ellie was surrounded by bow-wielding Seraphites (a hostile cult, recognized by the nickname ‘Scars’), somewhat than getting into ham-fisted, we took benefit of the tall grass to hide ourselves, utilizing a bow and arrow to select off stragglers, and distractions resembling bottles to separate people from their pack. Popping down a entice mine or two additionally helps – these basically work as a distant bomb that blows up when enemies get to shut, as they did within the first recreation – as does Ellie’s listening capacity (inherited from Joel), with lets you detect hazard even in dimly lit eventualities. The choice to stealth-kill enemies is again too, naturally – offering that you could get shut sufficient with out being detected.

“Combat isn’t always necessary, and you can use the environment to sneak past enemies, by climbing under cars or through tall grass. It’s really up to you how you want to play.”

However fight is not all the time needed, and you need to use the surroundings to sneak previous enemies, by climbing underneath vehicles or by way of tall grass. It is actually as much as you the way you wish to play, in most cases.

In case you’re somebody who prefers a bit extra motion, you may go in weapons blazing, however we advise retreating when issues get too bushy, as it may be a bit impractical – and probably deadly – to have to vary between ammo sorts or weapons, or to craft much-needed supplies resembling well being kits, in the course of a firefight. 

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Nonetheless, the brand new dodge capacity signifies that (if timed proper) you may rapidly transfer out of the best way of melee assaults earlier than touchdown your individual punishing blow on an enemy. Whereas Ellie is fast and agile, and capable of transfer round typically undetected earlier than touchdown a deadly blow on an unsuspecting enemy, her physicality does not lend to heavy-handed close-up fight. 

So, if an enemy will get too shut, it is good to have an upgraded melee weapon on you with which to fend them off, however there are events once you’ll have to resort to irritating bouts of button-pushing to loosen your self from their grasp – one thing that might be acquainted to those that grappled with the Contaminated within the first recreation. 

Talking of the Contaminated, whereas they are not essentially the principle menace in The Final of Us 2 (that honor goes to people), they do nonetheless pose a menace. Whilst you’ll run into your previous foes resembling Clickers, Bloaters and Runners, there are additionally a number of new Contaminated species to take care of – together with the Shambler, who has a nasty behavior of releasing poisonous fumes in all places when it will get too shut.

Whereas the Contaminated are ever current in The Final of Us 2, the principle narrative isn’t about them, and nor do they detract from it; as a substitute they act as a reminder of the kind of world you are inhabiting – in case you forgot.

Strides in accessibility

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

  • Most points of the sport may be adjusted to go well with participant necessities
  • One of the vital accessible video games so far
  • Over 60 accessibility options

The Final of Us 2 is likely one of the most accessible AAA video games we have seen so far, boasting greater than 60 accessibility options in complete. These can be found from the principle menu, and provide gamers the choice to regulate quite a lot of points of the sport to go well with their wants, whether or not that is implementing text-to-speech and audio cues, visible aids, anti-motion illness measures, or enhancing fight accessibility. 

There are additionally superior choices that target fine-motor impairments and listening to, in addition to others to learn low-vision and blind gamers. These choices are one thing we consider must be in each recreation, and to see them in one of many greatest video games of 2020 is most welcome. You possibly can be taught extra in regards to the full vary of accessibility choices on the PlayStation Weblog.

Verdict

(Picture credit score: Sony/Naughty Canine)

It is laborious to place into phrases why you must play The Final of Us 2 with out spoiling the points which make it actually nice. 

Whereas the long-awaited sequel seemingly begins out as a run-of-the-mill revenge story, it turns into extra nuanced, and Naughty Canine’s imaginative and prescient begins to come back to gentle. And, whereas this may increasingly take a number of hours to turn out to be clear, the pacing is ideal for the story that is unfolding.

The Final of Us 2 generally is a laborious tablet to swallow generally – it is heart-wrenching and sickening occasionally, and it will put you thru the emotional wringer. 

It is price noting that it is a for much longer recreation than the primary, weighing in at roughly 30 hours, relying on how a lot exploring you wish to partake in. In case you’re not invested within the story, it may seem to be a slog – however for many who are it is virtually like two video games in a single, a threequel and sequel rolled into one fully-fledged story.

Each twist and switch is a shock, and even when you’ve seen spoilers there are many vital plot-points which weren’t touched upon in leaks – and what leaks there have been will not detract out of your expertise. We regularly discovered ourselves pondering that we knew what was across the nook, solely to be greeted with one thing fully completely different. Quite a lot of that’s all the way down to Naughty Canine’s (profitable) makes an attempt to throw us off the scent, using faux voice-overs and intelligent edits to color a special story in trailers and showcases to what you discover within the recreation.

The Final of Us 2 is probably not for many who have not performed the unique, however for many who’ve grown to like these characters, and this world, it is a greater than worthy continuation of a fantastically advised story, constructed upon in methods we did not think about, and with all of the care we needed. 

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