The gameplay reveal of The Last of Us Part II was one of the highlights of Sony's entire lineup during E3. It eased into the return to an incredibly savage world with a lovely, human scene set during a wedding being held in a post-apocalyptic world. Ellie, the young girl from the first game who has since become an adult, shares a dance and some words with an unnamed woman with whom she appears to have a romantic history. After exchanging some smile-inducing banter, the two share a kiss.
From there, the reveal transitioned to the actual gameplay with Ellie coming up against a group of survivors. She witnesses them execute a man, brutally ripping out his intestines. They then begin combing the area, and we see how the stealth mechanics work. Players are able to sneak through tall grasses and bushes to elude search parties. On top of that, the apocalypse seems to be lousy with abandoned cars. Players will be able to slide under vehicles to hide from enemies.
Players who are able to land killing blows with arrows or melee weapons while avoiding detection are rewarded with continued non-detection. One slip-up immediately ratchets up the drama by turning things into an all-out struggle for survival. We see Ellie battling with multiple enemies at once, each one well realized and different - they don't seem like cookie cutter character models. One of the new additions to combat seems to be the ability to disarm adversaries mid-combat and immediately pick up their gear, smoothly transitioning between weapons in a fight with fluid motion. Crafting seems to have been streamlined, as at one point Ellie crafts an explosive arrow on the fly to take out an enemy and serve as a distraction. Oh, and players can still take enemies hostage to use as human shields.
One thing that seems obvious from the combat on display: Players will have to move when things get hairy. Limited ammo and melee weapon durability force players to move to different areas to scavenge supplies to continue the fight. Getting backed into a corner could lead to death if you don't have enough gear to stand your ground.
Little details really make the violence that much more visceral and real. While sneaking next to a car, Ellie instinctively puts her hand out to steady her crouch and a small sound effect of putting slight pressure on a car hood plays. Injuries that Ellie takes will persist over time. At one point in the fighting, she took an arrow to the chest. The shaft stuck out painfully as she continued to fight, blood slowly staining her shirt, until she was able to take cover behind a counter a minute later and pull out the arrow. Ellie and enemies react naturally to receiving injuries, grabbing the sites of stab wounds and holding wounds as time goes by and they keep moving.
Overall, The Last of Us Part II seems to be shaping up to be Naughty Dog's finest and most detailed work to date.
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