I just finished Last Of Us 2. Yeah, I know, it has been out less than a week. Take that as a sign of how much I enjoyed the original, and looked forward to the sequel. I'm not going to give any spoilers in the sense of specific characters or places or plot points, but to some people even descriptions of game elements are spoilers so be warned. So, without further ado, here are some quick thoughts.
- The story-telling is still top notch. Yes, it's a grim storyline. It's even grimmer than you think, and it can be very uncomfortable to play through some parts because that's what the game requires in order to continue. I imagine that some people will decide they'd rather quit than play along, and I can't say I'd blame them.
- The graphics etc. are also top notch. Characters' facial expressions and body language are rich and realistic enough to forget it's a game.
- Gay/trans inclusion is great. As far as I can tell those characters and interactions were handled very well, though of course I'm not the one who should judge.
- The distinct prevalence of east Asian features in the game's worst faction (and relative rarity elsewhere) was not so welcome. Shame on you, Naughty Dog.
- The gameplay sucks.
I'm mostly going to expand on that last point, because everyone else seems to be focusing on the sociopolitical stuff. The problem with the gameplay is that it's so damn repetitive.
- Oh look, another locked door/gate which forces me to take the long route and solve some mini-puzzle.
- Oh look, another dead body with a poignant note explaining what happened to some group of unfortunates. Game of Thrones had sexplanation; Last Of Us 2 has corpsplanation.
- Oh look, another maze of cars/containers/tables so I can play cat-and-mouse with several enemies. (To be fair I do kind of enjoy these, but they're not new in any way.)
- Oh look, another crumbling floor dropping me into a forced boss/horde encounter where I'll have to die a couple of times before I figure out which way to turn in those first few moments.
I know it's hard for a sequel to keep things as fresh as the original did. Nonetheless, even I could have come up with new things besides dogs (which were literally never an issue in my game) and one boat trip.
- More weapons, or other attack options - slings, tasers, dropping heavy things on people from above.
- Traps, including traps that only disable or manually triggered traps that require you to hide close by.
- Some sort of repellent that makes infected (or only certain types) stay away but only for a short time. Even better, attractants that you can spray on enemies.
- A serum that brings lower-level infected back to sanity/lucidity for a short time. Could be a hook for some more of that good story-telling, or even a way to get necessary information.
Maybe those aren't the greatest ideas, but you can't say that Naughty Dog lacked the time or talent to come up with something even better. They just didn't bother. While the writers and programmers seem to have done their jobs well, the level designers in between fell back on the same boring bag of tropes. It's a shame, because if everyone had done their jobs then the sequel might have measured up to or even surpassed the original. The ingredients were there, but I'd have to say Naughty Dog blew it when it came to producing a game that was actually enjoyable to play.
Oh well. Now I'm waiting for Ghost of Tsushima. That has gotten almost as much hype as Last Of Us 2, so let's see if Sucker Punch can deliver.