The Last of Us: Part 2 has been making waves across the industry, with its compelling story, incredible production values, and massively refined gameplay that elevates the brutality of combat to a whole new level. Here's our survival guide.
Despite lulling you into a false sense of security with its wholesome opening moments, it doesn't take long for Part 2 to shift into maximum intensity. You won't find any spoilers here, but it's fair to say that the tension ratchets up at an alarming rate.
Beyond the arsenal of weaponry at Ellie's disposal is a number of impressively nuanced wrinkles that Naughty Dog have peppered throughout combat encounters. They serve to heighten the brutality of said encounters whilst simultaneously providing some not immediately obvious ways to seize victory and continue on your way.
Shoot those limbs
Since the newly minted dodge mechanic is far from a "win button", requiring actual timing in a limited window of opportunity to pull off successfully, you can be forgiven for wanting to go in all guns blazing to win the day. It's an understandable knee jerk response to A.I characters that can be truly deadly if you don't have your wits about you.
One significant ace up your sleeve not explicitly stated in tutorial messaging is a well-placed shot to legs and arms. Not only can you throw enemies off balance, but we've witnessed WLF loyalists drop everything and limp back to the nearest cover.
At this point, you can either put them out of their misery, or use the reprieve to reposition and engage another target. The animation might be gruesome, but it can potentially give you an edge, especially if supplies and / or health are at a premium.
Trap bombs are incredible
We acknowledge the risk in sneaking to find decent placement, but we cannot extol the virtues of a carefully hidden proximity explosive enough. They are deadly and versatile in equal measure, and a great way to eliminate human and infected threats without necessarily exposing your position.
In terms of specific locations to drop these powerful nuggets, try and avoid doorways or anything that you yourself might need to escape through if you get unexpectedly flanked. The last thing you'll want is an enemy setting it off as they follow you through.
Tucking them into corners, or underneath vehicles, almost guarantees success. Human enemies on heightened alert will often times pounce round a corner looking to ambush where they think you're hiding, only to receive a lethal surprise for their efforts.
If in doubt, there's no shame in throwing in the towel on a particular engagement and escaping with your dignity (and health) intact. So many of Part 2's denser combat arenas are purposefully wide by design; this is a game designed for repeat playthroughs after all.
You'd be surprised at the amount of verticality baked into a lot of locations throughout the game, affording you not only excellent opportunity for a Nathan Drake-esque drop from above, but a quick getaway if things are going sideways.
Remember: Ellie might be a vengeful, experienced fighter, but it won't take much to be overwhelmed. Keep on the move, and use the distance to drop back into stealth and reassess your present circumstances.