Last of Us, The

Release date: June 14, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3

The Last of Us Tips and Tricks for Beginners

A quick guide to stealth, exploration and crafting which will make the survival in the infested world much easier

For many who’ve just started playing an unfamiliar game, it can be challenging to hit the ground running. Being presented with a bevy of new controls, sprawling environments, and intricate storylines can be quite daunting. The Last of Us thrusts players into a world where comprehension of details and plot makes or breaks the gaming experience. Without further ado, let’s dive right in with the tips and tricks that’ll keep you chugging along.

Don’t Forget to Focus Joel’s Hearing

One of the opening sequences of the game whisks players away from their military-controlled «safe zone» of residence. Traversing environments outside of the wall, Joel and Tess risk life and limb in uncharted areas rife with infected and hunters. While approaching the exit of a network of smuggling tunnels, players encounter the game’s first infected runners; Joel quickly silences his partner and leans against the wall out of sight. A tutorial flashes onto the screen, encouraging players to focus Joel’s hearing by pressing R2. Doing so grants players with a valuable ability which emulates x-ray vision:

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The Last of Us is a horror-survival game dependent on stealth, even more so than pulling a trigger. Having the ability to see through obstacles and track enemies is a hallmark feature of the game – one that many players tend to forget in key moments. While it is possible to Rambo your way through assailants in some instances, the game is infinitely easier with a stealthy mindset.

Naughty Dog, the developer of The Last of Us, makes it abundantly clear that sneaking past enemies is more effective than jumping in guns blazing. The technique is a life saver and helps preserve precious supplies, which leads to our next tip...

Explore, Explore, Explore Some More

Simply panning the camera around reveals one of the most captivating aspects of The Last of Us — the environments. Whether urban, rural or anywhere in between, the immense level of care in the game is incredibly apparent. It’s beautiful, it draws you in, and enthralls gamers from start to finish. Movie posters and photos adorn walls, vines grow rampantly along the sides of buildings, and wrecked vehicles litter landscapes. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and they are bountiful. Don’t be afraid to plant your feet, gaze around, and stay awhile – you’ll be pleased you did.

Eye candy aside, The Last of Us’ riches extend far beyond the scenery. Amongst various crisp and open landscapes lies vast assortments of items for the taking – a wandering eye and a dollop of patience are merely all that’s required to uncover them. Even obscure corners of the map hide items worth collecting.

Players can also utilize their shivs to break into locked rooms, unveiling stockpiles of rare and useful supplies; in the vast majority of cases, the expenditure of shivs is absolutely worthwhile. Gears are essential for upgrading existing weapons, and rare items dubbed «pills» help boost Joel’s skills. Supplies are the saving grace of the game, and can truly make the difference between advancing through a stage or suffering defeat. Although items are widespread, exercise caution — ammunition tends to be less than plentiful, so ration your rounds accordingly while fighting enemies.

Crafting is Your Friend, Don’t Be a Stranger

We’ve discussed how to find items both rare and common, so what do you do now that you have them? Many players hoard their supplies, like bottles, bindings, and blades, once they find them — while understandable, remember that these are only useful when combined together. Bindings and alcohol can be combined into health packs. Blades and bindings can be joined to craft shivs. One can also have some melee-fueled fun by combining pipes and bats with blades, creating upgraded melee weapons.

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Joel hunches over to craft an additional shiv.

A wrench icon alongside an item indicates that another can be readily crafted. In order to do so, simply hold down «X» until the action is completed. When progressing through the game, more advanced armaments can be unlocked for future use – such as nail bombs and smoke grenades. Used in conjunction with stealth tactics and other items, these can prove to be useful allies in advancing through the game.

Also found within the crafting interface is the pills pane, useful for aforementioned skills upgrades. Arrowing over once more grants access to artifacts, descriptive paraphernalia strewn about the map in many places. These special souvenirs give players greater insight into the narrative of the game and add a human element to a dehumanized world.

A Closing Note: Soak in the Backstory

The Last of Us received high acclaim for its gritty, endearing, and well-developed storyline. While the game is action-based, the character interactions and plot influence the gameplay beyond expectations. Many consider The Last of Us to be a «tell-tale» game, complete with copious amounts of cut scenes and intelligent dialogue.

Like many shows depicting humanity’s fight against infected masses, the game hammers home the theme that the infectedmight not be the biggest thorn in humanity’s side. The conflicts of man vs. man and man vs. nature are prominent enough to make any English teacher proud, but make no mistake — this game won’t be featured in your classroom any time soon.

To summarize, don’t rush your progress and bask in the dialogue The Last of Us offers. Be prepared to connect with the characters and for the tidal wave of curveballs coming your way. Yes, even turn your subtitles on — you won’t regret it one bit.

John Davis