Console, Gaming, Hands-On, PlayStation

The Last of Us Part II Hands-On: A Promising Swan Song For the PlayStation 4

The Last of Us Part II will finally launch on 19 June 2020. Ahead of its release date, we got our hands on the final build of the game, and we’re allowed to share our first impressions of Naughty Dog’s latest work based on a single chapter. Rest assured, this is a spoiler-free hands-on; we will not reveal any plot details to preserve the story experience for you guys.

Anyway, let’s get to our first impressions of The Last of Us Part II – suffice to say it’s one game you wouldn’t want to miss out on.

For reference, our impression is based on the gameplay sequence shared during the game’s State of Play. Compared to the first instalment, the Last of Us Part II features a much more engaging, complex gameplay with a more robust combat system. There is more than one way to negotiate an encounter, and you even have the option to avoid them altogether.

Of course, that’s not always possible, though you can always make a run for it if you’re low on health or ammo. As Naughty Dog has highlighted several times, running away from combat is a viable option, allowing you to be better prepared and reestablish stealth when you return to the encounter.

When you do decide to engage the enemies, you’ve got a lot of tools at your disposal. A well-placed headshot with a handgun, for one, will immediately kill human enemies. Paired with a silencer, you can eliminate them without alerting the others. However, if the person you’ve killed is in the line of sight of their teammates, they will be alerted.

If you want to save your ammo, melee combat is a lot more fleshed out in The Last of Us Part II. There is a dodge button now, and coupled with Ellie’s agility, you can take down – or outrun – enemies much bigger than her. That being said, melee combat is only really viable with smaller crowds; it’s easy to get overwhelmed by enemies in bigger encounters.

Speaking of which, the world of The Last of Us part II is a lot bigger too. While it’s not expansive enough to be considered an open-world setting, the world “feels” large, and that’s a good thing. There are plenty of areas to explore and scour for resources, and it’s completely up to the players to find these areas or not.

And that brings us to the graphics of the game, and it looks downright gorgeous. Character models are well-detailed, the environments look lush, and facial expressions are absolutely fantastic. Honestly, we’ve never seen a game that translates facial expressions at this level of fidelity before. It really adds to the immersion and experience of the game.

As you can probably tell from the various trailers of the game, The Last of Us Part II sets a much darker tone than the first title. The overarching theme of the game is the cycle of violence, and it follows Ellie’s quest for revenge. There’s only so much we can talk about at this point in time, but rest assured, we will reveal more in due time – spoiler-free, of course.

Based on our first impressions of The Last of Us Part II, it is easily Naughty Dog’s best work to date. It’s a gorgeous-looking game with a new and improved combat system set in a much larger world. It also continues Ellie and Joel’s story from the first game, and given the studio’s excellent storytelling chops, you know you’re in for a good time.

Still not quite sure The Last of Us Part II is worth picking up? Then stay tuned for our full review of the game this coming Friday on 12 June.