The Last Of Us 2’s combat is one of the main focuses of the game

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One of the most anticipated games from E3 was none other than the sequel to The Last Of Us from Naughty Dog. The reveal itself was pretty satisfactory as the game introduced us to a promising story with new characters. However. one of the main highlights was the actual combat in the game.

The Last Of Us is remembered as one of the best games ever as it really had one of the best single-player stories a game could have. The overall gameplay wasn’t bad either and the Ps4 remaster was nicely done. Therefore, when it was announced that a sequel is in the works, it broke the internet. Of course, expectations are extremely high for the game as it surely can’t be better than the masterpiece that was the first, but it just might.

From what we’ve seen in the trailers and gameplay videos, Ellie is all grown up and players play as her this time. The game seems to be more violent from its predecessor as well as can be seen from the gameplay clips with some brutal takedowns and kills. The E3 reveal was satisfactory and the increased violence is actually welcomed in this case due to the setting of the game, but people were quick to point out that there was a lot of cinematic in the game, especially during combat sequences.

It’s hard to tell whether you’re watching a cutscene or playing the game yourself. From what we saw in the gameplay, some of the cooler shots looked more like cutscenes and many believed that this was done on purpose just for the reveal. However, this is not the case. Speaking to Gamespot, the game’s co-directors Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, most of the cinematic we’ve seen, the perfectly timed dodges and Ellie pulling an arrow out of her shoulder before continuing to fight is actually part of the gameplay i.e. they’re in our control.

This new approach to combat is a great addition to the existing combat system of The Last Of Us and it can really tell us more about Ellie’s character through small things like removing an arrow out of your shoulder.
“In classic Naughty Dog style, we always try to contextualize animations, so the dodge and shoot play away from the arrow is a different animation from when the blade is about to hit her,” Newman said when asked about the variety of movements seen in the new gameplay. “There’s an extremely complicated system that goes into making each of her dodges.”

“Every strike has its own dodge based on the angle, how high it is, different things [like that],” Margenau added. Although the dodges looked cool, many were concerned that they would be scripted and not under the player’s control, however, the co-directors say that you can perform these movements using a button which makes the gameplay aspect of the game very exciting.

Now, this has been mentioned a lot here already but the part of the gameplay where Ellie first finds cover and takes an arrow out of her shoulder before continuing to fight is interesting. At first glance, it looked like a cutscene in-between the gameplay to make it look better, but now that we’ve been given confirmation that this is actually a part of our gameplay, we can now treat it is a new combat mechanic.

We used to have the healing mechanic before as well, but it wasn’t as detailed as this one. However, the thing is, this isn’t an improved version of the healing mechanic that was already put in place, this is something different. According to Newman and Margenau, the new gameplay feature is more prominent when you face off against bow and arrow enemies, which makes sense because all we see is Ellie taking out arrows lodged in her body.

“It’s not distinctly a healing animation [in the trailer], it’s a particular status effect,” Newman said. “You’ll notice in the lower right, there’s a little arrow icon, and it’s like you’re afflicted with ‘arrow-ness.’ It disables your listen mode and it totally screws up your aim, so you have to try and find a safe spot to take the arrow out.”

The added mechanic is specific to arrows according to Newman, but he confirms another thing when talking about the arrow status, the return of the listen mode. “We’re looking at ways to refine it… we’re always trying to balance against how much information we give the player in a stealth scenario,” Margenau said. “We’ve got some cool ideas to make it more grounded, more realistic.”

All of these small touches were not a part of the original game and it just goes to show how much effort the developers have put in order to improve and evolve the game. We can expect more mechanics like the arrow ones which can greatly affect your combat experience. There’s a lot of depth to the combat, a lot of things you must consider and look out for compared to the previous game.

It’s a good thing because it means that the combat won’t be as straightforward as it typically is in these type of games and it might also give players different approaches to the combat in the game. Apart from enhancing the gameplay experience, the combat improvements really show how Ellie has grown as a character.

When we were first introduced to her in the original game, she was a young girl who was scared, and didn’t know how to fend for herself properly, not until later parts of the game as she slowly learned. Even towards the end, she wasn’t a survival expert and had much to learn, she also still had a bit of innocence to her despite being exposed to so much to the dark side of the world.

The Ellie in the sequel is totally opposite to the one we were used to. She’s fierce, angry and an experienced killer. The gameplay and the trailers show her taking care of her enemies with ease with one of the story characters of the game also saying “they should be afraid of you”. There’s a lot to be desired here, for example, players would not only want to delve into Ellie’s journey after the first part to the point she’s at now (perhaps another game?), but they’d also like to see just how much Ellie has grown as a character.

Little cinematic touches like the arrow mechanic allow players to see how Ellie’s character has evolved over time. Instead of fighting her opponent head-on, she first finds cover and gets rid of the arrow so she can focus again after which she decimates her enemy. It also shows her experience in combat which has tremendously grown from the first game. Let’s hope there are more little combat mechanics like these which show how Ellie has grown as a character, and perhaps also an explanation as to how she got to where she’s at now.

The Last Of Us Part 2 has left a lot of fans excited but frustrated as well. Naughty Dog has been teasing the fans since 2017 and the game still doesn’t have a release date yet. It’s very possible that the game could be featured in next year’s E3 as well. However, given how good the last game was and the potential this one has, it’ll be worth the wait.

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