Last week the nice folk at Sony invited me, Carl Daniel and Ramz out to meet the Naughty Dog team behind their upcoming survival game The Last of Us. The team consisted of Neil Druckmann, Bruce Straley, Ashley Johnson (The voice of Ellie), Dr David Hughes and Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. We were treated to an informative presentation from the team, and by the end of it I felt as though I understood the direction of the game significantly more than I did walking into it. After the presentation we got some hands on time with the game and I was certainly impressed with how the game played. It did however, take me a few tries to adjust to the tactical based gameplay, and I believe this is due to the sub-conscious notion that this game is like Uncharted.
One is a survival game, the other is an action game. An obvious distinction right? Well even though you may tell yourself that you are indeed aware The Last of Us and Uncharted are two different games, I fear many will hold certain expectations on The Last of Us game based on the success of Uncharted. It’s one thing to openly say you can tell the difference, but once you pick up that controller and step into the shoes of Joel, how will your sub-conscious self react?
Here are five reasons you shouldn’t expect Uncharted when you pick up The Last of US.
– Read Richard Bailey Jr’s preview here.
A separate Naughty Dog team created The Last of Us.
During The Last of US event we got invited to, we met the team behind the game. During their presentation they made it very clear that the team who worked on The Last of Us is entirely different from those who work on Uncharted. They even went as far as saying that when the other team at Naughty Dog got around to playing The Last of Us, they were impressed by the level of psychological depth in the game.
So just because the Naughty Dog logo is on the front of the pack, don’t think for a second that The Last of Us is a ‘here have this while you wait for Uncharted 4’ type of game from Naughty Dog. Different teams mean different talents, ideas and strengths, and this is clearly reflected in The Last of Us.
It has deeper characters.
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I enjoy seeing the characters of Uncharted interacting with each other. However, a few of them do unfortunately suffer from being one dimensional. From what I’ve witnessed so far in The Last of Us, the characters all have a lot of depth. Much of it can be attributed to the theme of the game, because it’s easier to care for characters who are fighting for survival.
Regardless, there’s no doubt in my mind that the character development in The Last of Us will set it aside from not only Uncharted, but possibly every game this year. I was a huge fan of the bond between Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite; but after seeing The Last of Us, Naughty Dog may have delivered the father-daughter-like concept in a more touching way than we’ve ever seen.
The emotional impact The Last of Us delivers will no doubt effect the way you play. There’s no standing up to the infected humans in this game, once they have you in their grasp it’s game over. And as Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explained, the level of pressure The Last of Us presents will alter the way a player approaches the game. This level of psychological involvement hasn’t been seen in any Uncharted game thus far. The closest I can think of is in the first Uncharted when I was trapped on a boat with the cursed Spaniards, but even then the only way to engage the scary Spaniards is to shoot them. In which case there’s not a level of choice given to the gamer on how to approach the situation.
Expect death if you’re a run and gunner.
Guess what? There are guns in The Last of Us. No surprise there. The difference is that in this game you really have to think about every shot you take. There’s no letting rounds off without a second thought here, because that will seriously cost you. Ammo is extremely scarce and if you attempt to shoot down every enemy in sight you’ll find yourself scrambling to find more ammo in no time, and this will leave you open to the very smart A.I.
Speaking of the very smart A.I… it’s very smart. Groups will split up and try to surprise you from all sides, forcing you to make quick logical decisions.
You have to work towards your success.
This point is very much in relation to the previous one. It almost impossible to run through The Last of Us without collecting and crafting items. The Last of Us features a streamlined crafting system which allows you to collect useless items and turn them into a useful item. You may craft items that can damage enemies, heal yourself or help you gain access to new areas. With this in mind, you have to remember to take your time and examine every inch of the environments when playing. This is essential if you want to get the best out of the experience.
In reality, it’s easy to tell that The Last of Us and Uncharted are two separate games. But the reason I felt the need to break this down in detail is because Naughty Dog are so talented at what they do that there are now certain expectations cast on them based on the quality of Uncharted alone. In my opinion there aren’t many other developers who suffer this level of expectation when creating a brand new I.P. When the world saw The Last of Us for the first time, comparisons to Uncharted were instantly thrown around.
The Last of Us demo is now available to those who purchased God of War: Ascension, and it’s a different portion of the game to what we played at the Sony event. Be sure to go play that demo and share your own thoughts in the comments below.