- Originally written for a video review on YouTube
- The script was written between June 20th, 2020 to June 26th, 2020
- Changes have been made from the original video script to make this more like an video game review article
- The Last of Us Part II Spoilers will be present in the article
The Last of Us is one of my favorite games of all time; Top 3 if that means anything. I purchased the game in 2013 and was blown away by the presentation, the gameplay, and the story. The best looking PS3 game by far and the soundtrack really fit the setting. The combination of the gameplay and story couldn’t have been more perfect. The relationship between Ellie and Joel is what sold everyone on this game’s experience. When the sequel was announced during the PlayStation Experience event in 2016, I, along with many others, were extremely excited for this game. I didn’t think a sequel was needed but I was eagerly waiting to jump back into the world of The Last of Us. Following the PSX reveal, Niel Druckmann talked about Part II during the panel. He said Part II’s story is going to be about hate and you were going to feel that as the player. Druckmann also stated that this game is a complementary story to the first game; both games together tell a much larger tale. Niel and co. wouldn’t be revisiting these characters if they didn’t have the right idea. He also emphasized that The Last of Us is about these two characters, Joel and Ellie; that there wouldn’t be The Last of Us without them. Other details were touched upon as well but my main takeaway will always be the story being centered around hate. That detail alone has been on my mind for these past three, almost four years. The next trailer was featured at Paris Games Week 2017. I didn’t really know what to make of this trailer. It featured a mystery woman character being played by Laura Bailey which had plenty of people interested. She’s a prominent actress in gaming if you didn’t know (Kait Diaz in Gears 5, Mary Jane in Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4, and Nadine Ross in Uncharted), so people speculated who her character was going to be. Many believed she was playing Ellie’s mom. I didn’t have any personal theories as to what her character was going to be, Ellie’s mom or a new character, I’m fine either way. We eventually got a look at the gameplay during E3 2018. I wasn’t too impressed with this showing of the gameplay but the State of Play event’s gameplay was impressive. Revealing the use of pistol silencers, hiding in tall grass, ability to go prone, I was pretty excited to try all of these new features in this upcoming sequel. When it comes to the story, I still had no idea what the story was going to be about by the end of the last trailer. Theories about Joel being dead, Ellie’s mom, I just tried to come into this game with a blank slate with no big expectations for the story. Coming up with theories and trying to paint a picture of what I think the story will be, will just set me up for disappointment if the story ended up being really far out there. Eventually, leaks did get out for The Last of Us Part II which caused a lot of commotion in the gaming industry. Rumors spread it was a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee that exposed these leaks but those rumors were quickly shut down. It was actually an exploit in previous Naughty Dog games the leaker was able to use to get footage of those crucial cutscenes. Personally, I was lucky enough to steer clear of these spoilers.
Gameplay is more third person, over the shoulder gameplay you should be familiar with from the last game. Many different ways to approach scenarios; going in guns blazing, stealth, or avoiding the enemies all together are viable options. The first game, I would do stealth, maybe ¼ of the scenarios and most of the time go in, guns blazing and try to kill everyone. In Part II, I found it extremely hard to go in guns blazing in most scenarios. For one, the game is harder. I played the game on moderate which is the normal difficulty and I was still getting my ass kicked. Two, the enemies are more well equipped to deal with you. You’ll mainly run into the Western Liberation Front (WLF), the Scars, and the infected. The WLF have military gear and are usually found in large groups. Whenever I’d go in guns blazing against these guys, I would use a lot of resources and sometimes die during the encounter. Stealth is the obvious option against these guys but it’s hard when there are so many of them and they sometimes have dogs around, so stealth can be a bit tricky. With the Scars, they like to hide in the tall grass and whistle to alert others. Stealth is a must against these guys, going in guns blazing will only give away your position while their position is often unknown.
As you can tell, stealth is definitely your best friend in this game. The better you are at stealth, the more supplies you’ll have for harder/tougher engagements. The new stealth tools like pistol silencers and the ability to go prone work really well. Going prone under cars or in tall grass to avoid enemies is neat. Prone especially helps when you start an engagement, get caught, and run under a car or tall grass to reset the enemy aggro. The pistol silencers add another long range stealth weapon. Before, it was just the bow but now you have the pistol silencer. Stealth is encouraged a lot more with the increased number of enemies in each scenario along with fewer supplies laying around. The infected are back once again and are not to be taken lightly. You’ll run into this new infected type called Shamblers. They’re pretty much like Bloaters but they can throw gaseous acid at the player. They also explode gaseous acid when defeated. Clickers are somewhat harder to deal with. Before, you could crouch and walk full speed behind clickers without triggering them. Now, you have to lightly tap the left stick, walk extremely slow behind them in order to not trigger them. This new sort of gameplay feature just makes dealing with clickers much harder. Runner and Stalkers are still the standard, low tier infected they were previously.
The last infected type they introduced is The Rat King, a big mixture of infected that acts as a boss fight in Abby’s part of the story. A really annoying and tough fight but satisfying when finally defeated. I died like, ten times before defeating it myself. Definitely the most frustrating part of the game.
You now have a dedicated dodge button in L1 which makes melee combat cleaner; especially since enemies are more agro. Learning how and when to dodge is going to be important for later fights in the game. There are a lot more melee human enemies now, so learning this dodge mechanic is a must. Upgrading weapons and abilities are back with slightly different changes. For the weapons, upgrades are still done with the gears you find throughout the world. The upgrades themselves range from more stability to larger ammo clips to a better scope. They made a change to how the second weapon holster and toolboxes work. Before, you would use the gears to unlock the second weapon holsters either for the pistol or the long gun slot. Now, you have to find the second weapon holsters somewhere in the world which makes more sense. They removed the toolboxes which blocked out certain upgrades if you didn’t hit a certain toolbox level. Good changes all around, making the gameplay make more sense narratively and removing the toolboxes makes upgrading weapons less of a hassle. The pills upgrade certain abilities and craftables just like before. The change they made for Part II however is the upgrades are separated into categories and you have to upgrade the abilities in a given order. You can pick whichever categories unlocked at the time for upgrading, it’s just if you want the super good upgrade at the bottom of the category, you have to upgrade the ones above it first. Categories are unlocked by finding a manual hidden in the world, similar to the weapon holsters. This change certainly gives the player less freedom in some regards in how they want to upgrade their character but makes the game more balanced in that regard. Instead of hoarding the pills, waiting to get the best upgrade possible to get in one go, you have to slowly upgrade yourself in order to reach the best ones. They removed the rooms with extra supplies being locked behind shiv doors. You know…the locked doors where you needed to use a shiv to unlock them. Instead, it’s now safes with the combination hidden somewhere within the area. These are much more satisfying than having to craft shivs for more loot. It’s sort of like a mini puzzle while exploring the area for other supplies. The craftable items are still useful given the situation. Med kits, molotovs, and smoke grenades are still here. Naughty Dog decided to have some items be exclusive to Ellie and others be exclusive to Abby since the game is split between these two characters. Ellie is able to craft these trip mines which I found to be kind of useless. They pack a big punch but you have to lure the enemies towards them since you can’t throw them; sort of a downgrade compared to the nail bomb. Abby is able to craft pipe bombs which work as the nail bombs and are far more useful than the trip mines. I understand they want to have some differences in the gameplay between these two characters but the trip mines are just so useless compared to the pipe bomb. Outside of this, the gameplay is more-or-less the same between these two characters which is fine. You don’t want to steer too far from the gameplay style already established in the first part of the game. The parts where you have to use the touchpad to play the guitar are whatever at the end of the day. Feels a bit gimmicky but it’s insignificant to the gameplay at the end of the day. The notes and collectibles in this game are kind of neat. Just like the first game, the notes are an additional part of the story as a way to expand the world of The Last of Us. These are never required to read fully, the most you’ll be required to use the notes for is finding a passcode or lock combination for the safe. The other collectibles include trading cards for Ellie, coins for Abby, and whatever items the characters can pick up along the way. Like most collectibles, they’re optional and are never required to advance the game, same can be said for most of the notes. The gameplay is overall pretty solid. The harder difficulty makes this game truly feel like a sequel; somewhat reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan. The new stealth mechanics make doing stealth a lot more fun and rewarding. The mini puzzles for the safes are enjoyable to accomplish. From a gameplay perspective, the game has been improved enough for me to call this game a proper Last of Us sequel.
Presentation wise, the game looks stellar. It’s hard to notice when the game is switching from gameplay to cutscene which Naughty Dog showed us with Uncharted 4. The game never once bugged out or glitched on me. The rope mechanics and the way that moves and works should be applauded for because coding for that can’t be easy. The music, once again, fits the setting of The Last of Us perfectly. When the music starts rising up during gameplay, it’s hard to not feel that sense to uneasiness during those moments. Or when the music starts to slow down with its more acoustic sound, the music hits all of the right spots once again. No issues here with the presentation, fine visuals with an amazing soundtrack.
Now let’s get to the most pivotal and polarizing aspect of Part II, the story. The opening sequence with Joel telling Tommy about what happened between him and the Fireflies was the perfect opening. Quickly recapping the ending of Part I and showing us that Tommy now knows of Joel’s secret. In addition, Tommy, even after how heavy and messed up he understands the situation is, tells Joel his secret was safe with him. The next scene where Joel gives Ellie the guitar reminds players of their relationship. A bit awkward when Joel forgets the clock joke but I thought this scene was fine enough as is. Skipping past a bit to Abby and Owen’s introduction. We’re kind of just thrown into the world of Abby and co. with no real context until much later. I’m sure most people, including me, did not enjoy playing through this part as Abby. It’s only when Joel and Tommy show up when things get exciting. Abby ends up shooting Joel in the leg with a shotgun which caused a lot of people to wondering why Joel and Tommy used their real names when they were with Abby’s group. I agree, it was definitely a dumb/stupid move by them to use their real names but they’ve been living in Jackson for a couple of years now. Them running into groups of people, they seem to be really friendly and welcoming to most; especially since Tommy offered them to load up at Jackson before they headed on their way. It was just a silly and dumb move from the two brother that ended up costing Joel his life. Many found this moment to be a dumb writing choice, I didn’t have a huge problem with this writing choice in particular. Tommy and Joel are human beings, living in a post apocalyptic world. Mistakes are bound to happen and your luck sometimes runs out.
Ellie catches wind of Joel being in trouble and ends up being the first on the scene before Joel’s final moment. Her having to watch Joel die right before her eyes and she’s helpless to do anything was really emotional and f***ing sucked. I mean, we’re literally two hours into the game and Joel is already dead. Like that sucks, but it’s here to push the narrative forward of Ellie finding the people responsible for Joel’s death, mainly Abby, and killing every single last one of them.
While Ellie is chasing Abby and co., Tommy has already gotten a head start to kill them too. As you follow clues and hints to where Abby and her friends are, you also get to see the people Tommy has killed and even tortured. Later on, Ellie and Dina (Ellie’s girlfriend) have to seek shelter in a theater after fighting off an infected horde. Once inside Dina reveals that she’s pregnant. This is a writing choice I kind of have a problem with. One, why the f*** would Dina join on this quest that could take weeks to accomplish if she knew she was pregnant. I get you love Ellie but holy f***, you can’t be this dumb to be out in the wild while being pregnant. Two, it’s obvious the writers needed a way to get Dina out of the picture so Ellie can do this mission on her own. It’s clear that Dina wasn’t in any of the gameplay segments so either she was going to die which I thought was going to happen multiple times throughout the story or they have to injure her/make her sick and Naughty Dog went with the latter. Her character now just becomes Ellie’s girlfriend; nothing more and nothing less. Ellie eventually runs into Jesse who’s a pretty chill and relaxed dude. Another friend of Ellie and ex of Dina. And he’s asian so I’m rooting for him as an Asian American myself. Jesse helps Ellie in taking out the WLF members in the area to ultimately get run down by the infected and be brought back to the theater. While Jesse is in a state of recovery, Ellie gets a lead on Nora’s location, one of Abby’s friends, and thinks Tommy could be moving there too. When Ellie gets there, Ellie ends up torturing Nora as she’s dying of the infection to get information on Abby’s current location. Hitting the square button to torture Nora during this scene was not pleasant at all but I guess I’m not suppose to be having fun; playing a story centered around hate. Once the group understands Abby’s current location, Jesse understands Dina won’t go back to Jackson without Ellie, despite her sickness getting worse. So Jesse wants to get Tommy back so they can all go back home together. Ellie agrees with the plan and the duo set off to find Tommy. On their way to get Tommy, Ellie and Jesse have a disagreement as to where they should go next. Jesse wants to go to Tommy’s current location while Ellie still wants to chase after Abby. The duo split and Ellie sets off to the aquarium on her own. When she gets there, she encounters Mel and Owen. Owen being a character we met in the beginning of the game and hinting at a past relationship with Abby, he tries to stop Ellie but only ends up getting both of them killed. Once Ellie realizes Mel was pregnant, Ellie feels sick to her stomach about the people she just killed, only to have Tommy and Jesse come in to bring her home. The moment Ellie realizes she killed a pregnant woman shows that she still has some morals. Like, even after killing countless people on this revenge mission for Joel, Ellie still has a line of morality that she doesn’t want to cross and she ultimately crossed it when she killed Mel. When they get back to the theater, Abby finds her way in and holds Tommy at gunpoint. She kills Jesse while he’s running in to help. Now, Abby wants revenge for Ellie’s rampage of murdering all of her friends. Tommy did kill Manny but Ellie did kill everyone else…Ellie believes Abby killed Joel because they weren’t able to create a vaccine from Ellie’s immunity so Ellie willingly gives herself up to save Tommy. That isn’t the real reason for Abby killing Joel as all will be explained in the next part of the game where you’ll be playing as Abby for the next six to seven hours. So yeah, Ellie’s part of the story is sort of put aside for the next third of the game. Ellie’s story has moments of flashing back to the past in order to give us info on the gap between Part I and Part II. The first flashback is about Joel surprising Ellie with an abandoned dinosaur and space museum for her birthday. This flashback was just so cute and wholesome, it’s hard to not love this part of the game.
All of the following flashbacks relate to the big question that people wanted answered; that question being if Ellie found out the truth on Joel’s lie. Joel still tip-toes around the situation, only telling her the truth when she’s finally had enough of the lie. Ellie wanted her immunity to mean something bigger for her life and Joel selfishly took that away from her. Joel loved Ellie so much, he doomed the rest of humanity to save someone he cared for the most. The player finding out about this truth, so far into Ellie’s quest to find the ones who killed Joel; right after she killed Nora, makes the message of Part I ring so much louder. No matter many people you end up hurting, directly or indirectly, if the ones you love for end up dead or at risk of dying, you’ll do whatever you can to bring those people to justice or save them. Ellie’s story overall is enjoyable. We get to see this revenge/hate plot in full motion and yeah, I was definitely uncomfortable during some parts of this game.
Bringing it back to playing as Abby for the next chunk of the game, Abby’s story is about her past life as a Firefly, her friendships, her position at the Western Liberation Front, and her growth as a character on her journey to find Owen and help the Scar children. Whenever a game allows you to play as the antagonist, I believe the game developer’s goal is to make that character more sympathetic and understanding. Abby’s past has a deep connection to Ellie and Joel that tells a much bigger picture to the story of Part I. Abby and her dad, Jerry, were Fireflies stationed at the hospital Ellie and Joel were going to. Jerry is a witty, fun kind of character. I can see him make a bunch of dad jokes before the apocalypse took place. Abby has a strong love and affection for her dad, as her story opens with her trying to find him as he’s exploring the woods on his own. At the end of this sequence, it’s revealed that Jerry is the doctor that was assigned to operate on Ellie to create the vaccine. We, as the player, know what his fate turns out to be as Joel went rambo on the Fireflies in that hospital. Watching Abby discover her father’s dead body in the operating room was tragic; making her motives very clear when she hunts Joel down to get her revenge. Next part of her story explores her relationships with her friends and the Western Liberation Front itself. We get to see that Abby genuinely cares for her friends, no matter how complicated the relationship maybe. Whether it’s with Owen who has a very long and shared history with her, or the more complicated and awkward relationship with Mel, Owen’s current girlfriend. Her dynamic with Manny is by far my favorite; he’s a carefree sort of character that doesn’t let the current world fully affect him. The faction she’s a part of, the Western Liberation Front, is currently at war with another faction called the Scars. There was a peace treaty in place between the factions but that has since been broken and the war is about to hit a tipping point. The WLF leader, Isaac, plans to hit the Scar’s island head on during the storm as a form of cover. Her position at the Western Liberation Front is pretty important, since Isaac wants her and Manny to lead the first wave of people into the island.
Abby has other plans however, she wants to get Owen since he’s been missing for the past couple of days and could be in a rough spot. Abby decides to go on a solo mission in finding Owen. By the end of this journey, Abby would have a sex scene with Owen, befriend two Scars in Lev and Yara, and be a more understanding character before facing off with Ellie in the theater. So that infamous sex scene. I agree with the sentiment that the scene could’ve been cut short at the end so we didn’t have to see the act happening. I don’t agree with people who say the scene should’ve been cut all together. If the act doesn’t happen at all, Owen eagerly wanting to join Abby in going to Scar island to save Lev wouldn’t have the same impact. Owen clearly still has feelings for Abby and the scene just emphasizes that. And when Ellie walks in on Mel and Owen arguing, the timeline for the story comes together. The stories intertwining with one another was definitely my favorite aspect while playing Abby’s story. Like when we get back to the aquarium after Scar island, we all knew as the player what was going to be found inside. Seeing Abby being as devastated as she was makes sense for her hatred when she comes to the theater. The scars Abby befriends, Lev and Yara, show that Abby does have a good side to her. Abby could’ve left them to fend for themselves but decided to go back and help them, despite them being former Scars. Yara’s death to the WLF put the nail in the coffin for Abby’s association with the faction. Abby would be independent by the end of her arc which is supposed to demonstrate that she’s not playing sides of a war anymore; rather she’s trying to do what she believes is morally right which is to help these children who’ve been exiled from their former group. Like I said in the beginning of Abby’s story, a game developer’s goal when the player plays as the antagonist is to get the player to sympathize with them, if not just understand them a little bit more. When we get back to the theater between Ellie and Abby, I do have a deeper understanding for Abby’s character. I don’t sympathize with her character but I get why Abby did what she did. Prior to losing all of her friends in the WLF, it’s hard for me to feel bad for Abby when her father dying is the only major loss in her life that we, as the player, know of. What happened to her mother? Did she lose other people during outbreak day that wasn’t told to us? Friends? Other family members? We don’t know this and it would’ve helped paint a greater picture for Abby at the end of her story. Joel and Ellie lost so many people by the end of their runtime in Part I. Riley, Sarah, Tess, Henry, and Sam. If you want me to feel bad for Abby because she lost her dad and all of her friends who helped kill Joel, sorry but I don’t fully buy in. I didn’t enjoy playing as Abby at first. The fact that she took up space in the beginning part of the game before Joel got the axe was very strange and odd. It makes sense now after finishing the game but playing as Abby in the snow sections really started this character off on the wrong foot. I think maybe having a Joel gameplay section instead of Abby would’ve been better? It would’ve been so shocking if this random girl character Tommy and Joel decided to help out, turns out they’ve been looking for them this entire time. Half way through the game when Abby’s story is picked back up, it was interesting to see how Naughty Dog placed this character into the world of The Last of Us. Most games don’t let you play as the antagonist and most stories are told from one point of view. A risky decision by them, all things considered, and the execution for Abby’s story did not hit the mark. A six to seven hour story about Abby wasn’t the right move. They should’ve cut the story down to maybe four to five hours long, so the player can get back to playing as Ellie a lot sooner. The next time we get to actually play as Ellie is in the last part of the game. The farmhouse stuff I don’t count as “playing as Ellie” since most of that section isn’t “real” gameplay.
The story up to this point was very ambitious. Ellie’s revenge plot to kill Abby and friends was enjoyable. Watching Ellie be relentless in her path for revenge was something else, a story driven by hate this was. Abby’s story failed the execution. I still dislike that she killed Joel but understand her perspective. Maybe if they shaved like an hour or two off of her section of the game, I might’ve liked it more but her section was way too long for not much pay off. Also, introducing Abby’s story about half way through the game wasn’t the smartest move. I feel like they should’ve started pushing Abby’s story-line a little bit sooner. I didn’t have any emotion for her once we got to her turn to take over the game. The jumping back and forth in both stories is fine. For Ellie, it meant that we wouldn’t know about Joel’s lie until the very last stretch of Ellie rampage on Abby and co. For Abby, it meant a more fleshed out back story and a deeper relationship with Owen. If Ellie’s story was told chronologically, important details like Ellie knowing the truth would’ve been revealed way too early. If we had known that from the beginning of the game, her actions wouldn’t mean as much. Because we discover it towards the end of her story, we can see that despite Joel taking away her life meaning so much more, she was still devastated at his death and killed a number of people to get her revenge. I can’t really say the same for Abby however, her story was more or less told chronologically with a few flashback sequences here and there after her dad’s death.
Before I get to the last act of the game, I want to address the leaks and some of the criticisms I saw on Twitter and sort of put my own take out on these topics.
First up, the leaks. From my understanding, from my best friend and co-host Damian on our podcast, the leaks were mainly about Joel’s death and Abby being playable half way through the game. If I knew about any of these details, especially Joel’s death, I would’ve been upset to have learned these before the game’s release. Abby being playable might have gotten me more excited for the game, since playing as the villain isn’t common for most games these days.
Next is the review bombing. I never understood people who went out of their way to downvote or rate a game a zero because something didn’t line up with their expectations or they just didn’t like the game. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but when you’re review bombing because of political reasons, that’s just silly. Whether it’s because Ellie is lesbian or Lev is transgender, hating a game because those these reason is just out right dumb and you should be ashamed for thinking that way. “OMG this video game character is a TRANSGENDER?? Yuck zero out of ten this game sucks!” …like do you hear yourself right now? That’s just really stupid. Review bombing because you didn’t like the story is idiotic as well. Very similar to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi situation where people didn’t like what Rian Joshson did with those characters but I digress.
The critic scores being consistently high or perfect. Some believe the reviews are paid for which is just pure speculation. Unless you have actual proof, it’s kind of hard to die on that hill. Some people are really enjoying the game, saying it’s their game of the year and accolades like that. Others are actually attacking these people, saying they got paid for and other dumb sh*t like that. It’s Twitter obviously, it’s a goddamn circus every single time I go on this site so I’m not too surprised that others can’t let people enjoy what they like. If they think Part II is a ten out of ten game, why should anyone ruin their fun?
Neil Druckmann’s comments in various videos and interviews have turned this guy into the villain of the gaming industry overnight. During a special message video released May 4th, 2020, Druckmann stated he cried during his latest playthrough of Part II. Yikes bro. I get you want people to get excited about the game but trying to say you cried over your latest piece of art isn’t the right move. I found this statement to be not good by any means. Another statement he made was not using the word “fun” while talking about The Last of Us Part II. I found the controversy behind this statement to not hold all that much weight. When you read the original BuzzFeed article, he’s asked if violence ever served in gameplay for the players to have fun and he simply answered it by saying he likes to use the word engaging instead. It might be a minor distinction for them but it sort of checks out when committing acts of violence in Part II. I understand video games are meant to be fun and enjoyable but it’s okay to play a game where it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.
The last topic I want to touch on is the trailers having different footage from the final product. Many fans have called this tactic deceitful and in poor taste. Someone even tried to bring the original 2016 reveal trailer into the argument. Okay guys…this is just not it. For one, the PSX 2016 reveal trailer was filmed separately from the main game. They said this multiple times throughout the PSX panel of that same year. Two, Naughty Dog changing the person covering Ellie’s mouth from Joel in the trailer to Jesse is a bit deceitful at face value but do you want the trailers to spoil the game for you? Movies do this all the time, filming scenes just for the trailer or altering/cutting scenes out of the final product (like most Marvel movies). Why should Part II be shamed for this? It’s a story driven game where spoilers in the trailer would only ruin your experience. I didn’t have any problem with this since it kept the main plot of Part II hidden before most of its release.
The last act of the game where we see these characters a year or so after the events at the theater was interesting. Ellie and Dina are living on a farmhouse when Ellie starts getting PTSD from Joel’s death. Tommy makes a visit to tell Ellie on Abby’s current location in Santa Barbra. Tommy would go after Abby himself but can’t due to his leg injury. Ellie is hesitant on chasing after Abby once more. Abby is looking for the Fireflies and manages to make contact with them before getting kidnapped by the rattlers. When Ellie arrives on the scene, she gets caught by one of the rattlers’ traps. After Ellie gets the situation under control, she gets info on Abby’s location before killing the rattler member. After slaughtering through more people, Ellie finally reaches Abby and helps her escape, just to have one last fight with her. The fight concludes with Ellie letting go of Abby, presumably her going off to the Fireflies. Ellie goes back to the farm house, only to see her stuff remains with Dina and the baby elsewhere. The final shot is of Ellie walking back into the woods, after losing everything and gaining nothing.
Ellie not killing Abby in the end is a sign of character development. After everything Ellie has done, the people she has killed and the people Abby has killed, she couldn’t bring herself to kill Abby. At this point in the story, it’s shown that they were just trading kills back and forth with one another. Ellie killing Abby in the end wouldn’t have put her to rest. It might’ve caused more trauma if anything.
Some people criticize the ending because Ellie just “let it go”. People are simplifying this ending to the greatest extent. The story isn’t as simple as Ellie killing every single last one of them. The story isn’t as simple as Abby’s past and her redemption arc. Hell, Part I’s story isn’t as simple as Joel getting attached to Ellie. The story of The Last of Us is about doing what you believe is morally right. Joel thought he was doing the right thing, saving Ellie from the hospital. Abby thought she was doing the right thing by killing Joel. Ellie also thought she was doing the right thing, hunting down Abby and her friends. No one in the Last of Us is as black and white as they may appear to be. Joel, the main protagonist, has done some really f***ed up sh*t but people still love his character. He might’ve killed all of the Fireflies but did it out of the love he had for Ellie. Abby, despite killing the fan favorite character, isn’t a murderous psychopath. She only sought revenge against the man who killed her father because that’s the only form of justice she saw. By the end of it, Ellie realized that hate had consumed her consciousness so much, when the image of Joel pops into her mind, she is unable to kill Abby, Joel’s murderer. Which is why when she returns to the farmhouse, she isn’t devastated when Dina and the baby are gone. Ellie can only be mad at herself for letting this amount of hatred and anger consume her. She allowed this emotion to take so much of her life, she ended up taking the lives of others and pushing away the people who cared for her the most. The hatred and anger is also shown in Tommy in the last act. He can’t act on the lead he discovered which is why he’s so upset at Ellie for not following through on her promise she made so long ago. Hate and anger are still the main focus of this story, long after Ellie’s main arc is complete. When this ugly emotion takes over, only the worst parts of you show.
The final product of The Last of Us Part II isn’t perfect by any means nor is it a complete disaster. The gameplay is an improvement on all fronts compared to Part I. More tools for stealth, a harder difficulty, and a more rewarding gameplay experience. The presentation still hits every mark; great visuals and a fantastic soundtrack. The story served in its promise of a hate centric storyline. Ellie’s arc of going from wanting revenge on every single person who killed Joel to realizing she was consumed by the anger and hatred that led her to an ending filled with no one else but herself. Abby’s story wasn’t executed to my liking; overstaying its welcome by a couple of hours and only understanding her character, not sympathizing. In conclusion, The Last of Us Part II is a fine game. Not a perfect sequel but a continuation of The Last of Us story with some rough edges.