The reviews are in, and the wait is over. The Last of Us Part II is out today, and it is fantastic. But before you continue the story of Ellie and Joel, you may want a little guidance on how to get the most out of Naughty Dog’s latest masterpiece. That’s where these pointers might help: Our goal is to help you discover important details and strategies without diminishing the impact of the story or action. So whether you’re already playing The Last of Us Part II or are eagerly preparing to begin, you should be able to find something useful here.
Though you have plenty of lethal weapons at your disposal, playing The Last of Us Part II like a traditional third-person shooter is a losing proposition. Ammo isn’t plentiful enough to approach every encounter like a straight-up firefight, so you should get comfortable with the idea of sneaking around as much as possible. That doesn’t mean you’re limited to just crouch-walking behind everyone for a stealth kill; you have a wide range of options you can employ. Being able to go prone is a big change from the original game, so don’t neglect that and the different possibilities it opens up. You can cause distractions and crawl right by some encounters, but you may also need to take out the opposition. In those cases, don’t forget to craft silencers and use your arrows.
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From a practical standpoint, exploring thoroughly is helpful because it gives you access to more resources you can use for crafting and upgrades. But there’s an even better reason to search every nook and cranny: the side stories. By seeking out crumbling buildings and forgotten rooms, you can learn more about the people and the world they live in (or, more likely, “lived in”). Bodies, letters, and other environmental hints provide different perspectives on the sadness, joy, and desperation inherent in The Last of Us.
Don’t agonize over skill points
You unlock multiple skill trees that support different approaches to encounters, but you won’t find enough resources to buy every skill in every tree. That’s okay! Even if you can’t afford all upgrades, you will definitely be able to grab every one that makes you say, “Ooh, I want that.” If you’re looking for safe bets along the way, anything that improves the effectiveness of “listen mode” (which lets you see the outlines of enemies in the area) is a good call, as are skills that increase your health.
Leave your comfort zone
Even if you have a preferred playstyle, don’t be afraid to experiment with different weapons and tactics. Take a chance and buy a skill point or two that doesn’t directly support your usual approach. For instance, if you’re trying to stealth-kill every enemy, you might not use regular melee weapons often. But if you invest in the upgraded melee weapon skill, you are building up your options of alternatives in case things don’t go perfectly – and you might be surprised by how much you enjoy a new mechanic once you give it a chance.
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Always have health packs
This seems obvious, but don’t forget to maintain a supply of health packs. Crafting them isn’t exactly complex or time-consuming, but it’s better managed between encounters – not in the heat of the moment. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a dire situation with no way to heal, and saving the extra few seconds it takes to create a health pack might make all the difference.
Safe combos are nearby
As the apocalypse was unfolding, people apparently got pretty into locking their stuff away in safes. You find a lot of these in different locations, but you need to find the combinations to open them. Though some of them have mild puzzle-solving elements, the answer is usually spelled out plainly – and relatively close to the safe. Look for letters, signs, and other nearby hints. If you find yourself searching more than a few rooms away in any direction, you’ve probably gone too far.
Use bombs against Stalkers
This is a pretty specific tip, but Stalkers are some of the most terrifying and unpredictable foes you will see. They barely show up in listen mode, move around stealthily, and catch you off-guard. You can put your mind at ease when you encounter Stalkers by laying down some proximity bombs. Because these explosives are loud and lethal, you might forget about them; they can attract unwanted attention during traditional fights – but Stalkers aren’t traditional enemies. The bombs don’t necessarily make these sequences easy, but they relieve some of the pressure.
Fiddle with settings
The customizable difficulty components in The Last of Us Part II are truly impressive. You can choose one of the pre-set options, or you can dive in and tweak specific parts. Adjust how plentiful resources are, how resilient you are, how easily you are detected, and more. Plus, the accessibility options are even more robust, so a wide audience can experience the same story while tailoring the mechanics to their individual preferences and needs.
For more on The Last of Us Part II, check out our interview with creative director Neil Druckmann, then read this spoiler-free overview of the game.