Five Things You Might Have Missed in The Last of Us

by Matthew Thompson

I’ve been replaying The Last of Us yet again on the PS4. It remains one of my favorite games of all-time and if you haven’t played it yet, I’d highly recommend giving it a go. It really has something for every type of gamer. Now this blog is for those that have had a chance to play it. Of course, I have a smart group of readers and you guys probably caught everything I’m about to mention. But this blog is partly because I might point something neat out that some of you overlooked and just as much because I want to talk about a few little things that make this game extra special. With all that said, here are five things you might have missed when you played through The Last of Us that make the game even better (click on any of the pictures to get a better look at full-resolution!).

The Things in Sarah’s Room
The Last of Us Sarah's Room 1 The Last of Us Dawn of the Wolf Billboard
When you begin the game, you don’t play as Joel or Ellie, but Joel’s daughter Sarah. After being woken up by a phone call, you are given control of her and have the opportunity to explore her room if you want. And you’ll find a number of things that mean a little more once you’ve played through the game already. While in Pittsburgh after running into a billboard for the Twlight-esque Dawn of the Wolf, Joel mentions having seen that movie with someone (obviously Sarah) before the outbreak and you’ll see a poster for it in her room. The picture of Joel and Sarah featured later in the game can also be seen here on her wall.
The Last of Us Sarah's Room 2 The Last of Us Giraffe Scene
And then there is the giraffe stuffed animal. Those that have played the game know of the brilliant giraffe scene that occurs late in the game. You know the one with the beautiful serene music. The one Naughty Dog lets you just linger and enjoy with Ellie for as long as you want. Yeah it was awesome. I’m sure I noticed a giraffe prior to that at some point on my first runthrough of the game and didn’t think much of it. On a replay however you notice giraffes are littered throughout the campaign. Pictures. Paintings. And stuffed animals like this first giraffe spotting in Sarah’s bedroom.
The Last of Us Birthday Card 1 The Last of Us Birthday Card 2
Oh and there is this adorable card Sarah got Joel for his birthday.  For as little time as you spend with these two together, you can’t help but love their relationship. Sarah’s message in this card is a perfect example of why.

Old Naughty Dog Game Easter Eggs
The Last of Us Jak and Daxter Toys 1 Jak and Daxter Board Game 1
The Last of Us Nathan Drake Toy The Last of Us Uncharted Board Game
Even though Naughty Dog has moved on from my beloved Jak and Daxter series, I love seeing them give it a nod in their more recent outings. In the Uncharted series, you had the super cool “Strange Relic” treasure to find which was modeled after a Precursor Orb from the Jak games. Shortly after meeting up with Henry and Sam in Pittsburgh, The Last of Us lays a few easter eggs of its own referencing ND’s earlier adventures. In a bedroom they have these piñata looking things of Jak and Dax on a dresser as well as Nathan Drake on a nearby bed. And in the toy store below, you will find a few board games related to both of the aforementioned series. And if you are anything like me, you’ll unlock a Jak shirt and Daxter backpack for Ellie to rock in a second playthrough.

Ellie Takes the Toy
The Last of Us Ellie Steals the Toy 1 The Last of Us Ellie Steals the Toy 2

The Last of Us Ellie Steals the Toy 3 The Last of Us Ellie Steals the Toy 4
Right in the same room as the Naughty Dog board games, Sam and Henry have an argument about taking a toy from the toy store. Later it is revealed that Ellie took it for him. And if you keep an eye on the toy after Sam drops it in the store you’ll see Ellie staring at it. And then if you look away and then back you’ll see she’s grabbed it. And now with the magic of the PS4 version’s photo mode, I was able to capture her taking it in a sequence of photos since you can tweak where the camera is pointed. I did catch this on my first go round and I imagine a lot of people did since the game draws attention to Sam and Henry’s discussion, but it was neat enough I figured I’d drop it in here anyway. And like I mentioned earlier in this blog and seen in the above pictures, giraffes everywhere!

The Stuff in Ellie’s Backpack
The Last of Us Letter from Ellie's Mom The Last of Us Letter from Ellie's Mom 2
A couple times throughout the game, most notably during the game’s incredible Winter chapter, players get a chance to control Ellie. With this comes an opportunity to see what is in her backpack. Going to the artifact section shows players a few things they knew Ellie had a hold of as well as a few they did not. Plus you get to hear what Ellie has to say about them. The most interesting is probably the letter Ellie has from her mother which you can see in the screenshots above (click them and you can even read them here if you never got the chance in game). During Winter she also has the picture which she eventually gives to Joel in Salt Lake City. There are a few other neat little things to check out in there. If you have a save with chapter select available, you can jump right into Lakeside Resort and check it out for yourself. The Left Behind DLC will also do the trick.

The Combat Shines When Things Go Wrong
The Last of Us Remastered 1I don’t want to tell anyone how to play this game. People should play it however they want. But I have heard about people playing it more like a strict stealth game by restarting encounters if they are seen. And I feel they might be missing out on some of the game’s best moments. Now on Survivor difficulty I restarted a few fights myself when I messed up really bad. And I start every encounter that I can regardless of difficulty in a stealth manner. Sometimes passing by enemies completely. Sometimes trying to thin the herd by choking out a few guys.  But the most fun I had with this game is when things went wrong and I was forced to improvise. After being spotted, I’m scrambling between cover trying to lose my pursuers and regain stealth status. I’m looking through my weapons trying to decide which ammo is expendable. I find a brick. Maybe I throw it off in one direction to distract some enemies and draw them away. Or maybe I throw it right at the guy coming towards me. Then while he is dazed run up and whack him with my pipe. As fun as it is to plan out an attack and have it go just the way you want, it can also be a blast when you mess up, shit goes sideways and you are forced to think on your feet. It leads to some really wild, one of a kind moments and you’ll want to experience some of these for yourself.

These are just a handful of little things that help to make The Last of Us that much more special and I hope you enjoyed this post about them. Thanks for reading!

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10 comments on “Five Things You Might Have Missed in The Last of Us

  1. I think the main things I missed here are the Naughty Dog easter eggs. I only remember seeing one Jak and Daxter thing. Missed the Uncharted stuff altogether. These little details packed into the game are great.

    And I second your thoughts on the combat. The game didn’t hold up as well the second time through for me, and I think a lot of that was because I was playing on survivor which forced me to restart a lot. I didn’t get that awesome feeling of improvisation so much because I died or restarted so often that it almost turned into trial and error. I have to tone down the difficulty next time, because I had a blast on my first playthrough.

    • I really got a kick out of the easter eggs. Left Behind also features some Jak X and Uncharted 2 costumes in the Halloween store plus the Jak X arcade machine in the (Eddie) Raja Arcade.

      I found I was a little too careful on Survivor as I ended up with a lot of supplies towards the end (which I then wasted in the hospital encounter because why not?). I feared putting myself in a bind. But I do think Hard with the Listen feature turned off is probably the sweet spot for it being difficult and yet allowing you to experiment/improvise.

  2. Awww this is a great post. =) I agree with that last part about combat and thinking on your feet. That’s what this game is all about, I think. It’s a little stressful (in my opinion), but I kind of learned to embrace that. You have to concentrate and improvise with TLOU. With other games, it’s easy to get distracted while you’re playing and just coast while you have a real-life conversation… but with TLOU, you are IN it for that period of time. I would forget where I was in real life!

  3. I found the same stuffed giraffe among the luggage in the high school parking lot in bill’s town. Thought that was pretty nifty.

  4. After replaying this a perverse amount of times, I definitely noticed all of these – though non-psychotic people who only played this once or twice will definitely get some great info from this.

    But even knowing all of this, I loved reading your input. This game affected me more powerfully than any other game I’ve played. So I love hearing other people’s input and opinions on it, especially on the little details.

    Your last point was the most interesting to me, since it wasn’t just a “This is a cool little detail”. I’ve beaten Survivor numerous times, to the point where it feels just like a harder difficulty, not the impassable mountain it used to be (Grounded took that title). So I’m not as anal with Survivor, having to do everything perfectly for fear of wasting a molotov or something. And you’re definitely right – seeing new things in combat, or surprising yourself with an improvised combat technique – it’s a new twist on something you may have done a dozen times before.

    But yeah – great post.

    • I must admit, I’m not so careful on Survivor anymore either. I actually wrote this post for my old site after I first played it on that difficulty on PS3. Later I moved it here and updated it with some PS4 screens when the remaster came out, but kept the words the same for the most part. So yeah Survivor isn’t nearly as daunting after playing it some more! I was a little scared of wasting supplies the first time through though… haha.

      But I remember I really wanted to include that last point about the combat because I had a few friends telling me they were playing it almost like an older Splinter Cell title or something like that and thought, hey they might be missing out on some cool stuff!

      Anyway, thanks for the very thoughtful comment. I’m glad even an expert TLOU player could get some enjoyment from this post! It was definitely aimed at some one who had played it only once or twice, but more seasoned players getting a kick out of it is definitely a plus.

  5. I love this game Naughty Dog is one of the best thare is. I have not yet played the game on Survivor is thare something bad abowt it. some one told me it will make the game suck idk help!!!!!!

    • The big difference with Survivor is that it there aren’t as many supplies around, so you have to be more careful about when you use things and what you decide to craft. That makes it more challenging. If that sounds like something you want to try you should give it a go!

  6. This is a great article – and as you point out, the combat does shine when things go wrong!

    Sneaking up on the infected and silent takedowns are all good, but when you are discovered and you have to rely on melee combat and quick maneuvering of weapons it gets really intense.

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