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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
I 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!