The Last of Us Part II Announced

Fangu

Great Old One
I'm not trying to dismiss the horrendous stuff thats being levied at the devs, but I also get the impression that this was the response they were envisioning?
You know... I never thought about it that way, but now that you mention it, this is entirely probable. After that Keurig Coffee Machine thing a few years ago, "woke brands" became a thing; Nike did it, Gillette did it; their 'woke' stunts were getting massive attention and millions of dollars in free PR + stocks rising massively in value, so if they knew a game with LGBTQ+ characters, female leads, male characters people love dying etc would upset people and gain massive (negative, but even so) attention, ..........

Hell now I'm even starting to think the devs themselves were behind the leaks o_O
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
What's the point of that kind of conspiratorial thinking?

This is uncomfortably close to false flag speculation.

No, this is not new or surprising behavior from gamers. No, I don't think Naughty Dog planned or falsified these attacks.

People are that shitty. This is reality.

Tifa's seiyuu got death threats from gamer otaku. This is not new behavior. They want control and feel entitled to said control.

Niel Druckmann is a douchebag and I do believe he's using the real situation to bolster his game's acclaim but that's entirely separate from the abuse, harassment, and hate being ridiculously and offensively hurled at the voice actresses and staff of this game.

There's a right way to criticize and a wrong way. And trying to minimize the real abuse that's happening just isn't the reality. This abuse happens, especially to women and games that dare to even hint at diversity. There's a contingent of "gamers" who are adamant about making any game that goes against their political agenda a culture war front and are willing to die on that hill and try to tarnish it.

And unless there's some tangible evidence to reveal this as some sort of coordinated response or falsification, these type of speculations only serve to give cover to the issue at hand and distract from the real world harm being done to the workers involved in this.

It's bigger than that. People are getting hurt. All because manbabies can't stand Abby is chiseled and stacked more than they'll ever be. Diversity shouldn't be controversial, ever.

I get some people don't want to believe it's as shitty as it appears, I really do. but unfortunately it is. That's the world we live in now.
 
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Fangu

Great Old One
Also @Makoeyes987 I didn't read your entire post before my last response because tbh reading the first few paragraphs it startled me. I just wanted to make it clear that I was talking about shitty capitalism capitalising on bigots being shitty. Reading your post now I want to make it clear I was in no way trying to dismiss the real problems. I was just throwing something out there that should have stayed outside this thread. I'm sorry if my post read as taking the topic too lightly or joking about it or trying to silent voices in some way if anyone read my post as that.

Edit: Laura Bailey recieved death threats? :/
 
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The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
Eh, no reason to apologize for wondering about something like that, @Fangu -- least of all in the climate of today. A few weeks ago, one corporation after another suddenly couldn't trip over themselves fast enough to make some hollow comment about Black Lives Matter when the winds of public opinion began to change. They're still doing it.

It also doesn't help that the moral takeaway of the game's narrative is itself so appallingly obvious as to make such basic virtues seem trite and vapid. =\

I can't blame anyone for wondering whether this narrative was phoned in and just window dressing, i.e. an excuse to get precisely the attention they're getting right now.
 

Erotic Materia

Nani the fuck, weebs?
We're getting dangerously close to the reality that creating art is no longer worth the risk. The thought of getting even accidentally famous from something I created now terrifies me. It genuinely affects my motivation to create, these days. The parasocial dynamic of modern fandom is absolutely out of control, as is the extent to which "fans" can no longer separate entertainment from identity.
There have always been fringe crazies. The only difference is now they have Twitter.
 
AKA
The Engineer
I feel a bit hypocritical saying this because (a) I haven't played the game (because of how the creators described where the story was going) and (b) I'm aro/ace, but anyway...

People are more than the sum of their sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. Which sounds... obvious to say. There's a million things about a person that doesn't have anything to do with those aspects that makes that person that specific person. And what those things are is often learned rather organically through interacting with a person.

With characters, that gets a bit more tricky since the revealed things that make a character a character are much more limited. Weather that be due to how long a character is around for or how other characters interact with them or the setting they find themselves in. So someone telling a story has a limited number of characteristics they can get across to the audience.

Where I see this getting weird is when the "main characteristics" of a character are things like the sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. Instead of things like oh... hobbies, their goals in life, relationships (all kinds), etc. Not that this is wrong per say. But if it comes across that the bulk of what makes a character a character is their sex/gender/sexual attraction, then there's not a lot of actual "character" to the character oftentimes.

It's the difference between the impression of a character being "that's the gay guy, who runs the bar" and "that's the bartender, who happens to be gay". I don't know how it works for most people, but the latter is how I think of people in real life. The former is how it feels like a lot of minority characters (not just minority sexes/genders) were conceptualized.

Sometimes what I'll do with characters is consider what kind of character they would be like apart from their sex/gender/sexual attraction. And if there's still a lot left that makes that character recognizable as that character (usually compared to the other characters in the same work.), then usually they're pretty robust as a character. If they aren't recognizable as that character any more, then that's a danger signal that they might not have been developed very much beyond their sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. In which case... it's kinda understandable if the audience has problems with how that character is presented.
 

Roger

Triple Slash Enthusiast
AKA
Minato
I feel a bit hypocritical saying this because (a) I haven't played the game (because of how the creators described where the story was going) and (b) I'm aro/ace, but anyway...

People are more than the sum of their sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. Which sounds... obvious to say. There's a million things about a person that doesn't have anything to do with those aspects that makes that person that specific person. And what those things are is often learned rather organically through interacting with a person.

With characters, that gets a bit more tricky since the revealed things that make a character a character are much more limited. Weather that be due to how long a character is around for or how other characters interact with them or the setting they find themselves in. So someone telling a story has a limited number of characteristics they can get across to the audience.

Where I see this getting weird is when the "main characteristics" of a character are things like the sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. Instead of things like oh... hobbies, their goals in life, relationships (all kinds), etc. Not that this is wrong per say. But if it comes across that the bulk of what makes a character a character is their sex/gender/sexual attraction, then there's not a lot of actual "character" to the character oftentimes.

It's the difference between the impression of a character being "that's the gay guy, who runs the bar" and "that's the bartender, who happens to be gay". I don't know how it works for most people, but the latter is how I think of people in real life. The former is how it feels like a lot of minority characters (not just minority sexes/genders) were conceptualized.

Sometimes what I'll do with characters is consider what kind of character they would be like apart from their sex/gender/sexual attraction. And if there's still a lot left that makes that character recognizable as that character (usually compared to the other characters in the same work.), then usually they're pretty robust as a character. If they aren't recognizable as that character any more, then that's a danger signal that they might not have been developed very much beyond their sex/gender/sexual attraction combination. In which case... it's kinda understandable if the audience has problems with how that character is presented.
I'd say Last of Us passes that test, certainly with Ellie, Bill, Riley, Lev and just about everyone else. Dina isn't left with much once you take out her relationships with Ellie and Jessie but still recognisable as a character, I feel.
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
I'd say Last of Us passes that test, certainly with Ellie, Bill, Riley, Lev and just about everyone else.
Oh, it most certainly does. For better or worse.

Roger said:
Dina isn't left with much once you take out her relationships with Ellie and Jessie but still recognisable as a character, I feel.
Ironically, even then, Dina is still more likable than just about anyone else.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
i think part of the post-apocalyptic fantasy resolves around a survivalist fantasy of making your way through a dangerous new world where no one is around to help

but like, personally, fuck all that. that sounds scary. my post-apocalyptic fantasy is that i live in a little village, i have a nice little house or bungalow, and i get to run a library or something. and people who go out into the wild can bring me back books and stuff for my library. (and in the case of tlou2, ps3 games that aren't uncharted or jax and daxter because y'all need more variety)

i guess i don't need an apocalypse for that but it's about as likely as that happening without it

i don't know how far i am through the game, about half or a little over? (
i saw some wlf people on the first non-title screen boat in the game and i think i've just swum into the hospital?
) and i think i've only seen one of the contentious characters (
abby, although idk why she would be except what she does in the beginning; unless ellie's new jewish girlfriend is a problem which probably is
), there's a trophy about collecting coins yet i've not seen a single one yet so is that all in the latter half? the scale of the environments is impressive and all, it looks really nice, but also a lot of it is me walking through abandoned places not really doing much.

i don't want to call the game too long because i don't want troy baker to passively-aggressively tweet at me, but i wish the pace was faster in some parts

also i have turned on a bunch of the accessibility options not out of need (although it's really impressive how detailed they are), but because i'm here for a good time not a difficult time so yes i will be using unlimited stealth and that echolocation thing
 
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looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
omg Sean I'm seeing you on the "now playing" section while I'm going through as well lmfao

I'm compiling a mega post that I'm adding to as I progress. Trying to keep my thoughts on each chapter concise, but I'll post when I'm done.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
rish i see you as well with that death standing icon and i own that game but haven't started it yet so once i am finished with this i think i will start that because it looks like more wandering through desolate landscapes and that's just what i play nowadays


is all the gay stuff a ~point of contention~ with this game? i've been surprised with the number of offhand references to stuff, but now i try to count them i think there might have been less than half a dozen which just feels a lot given the general lack of it in many other games, and that having it casually mentioned is a surprise.

it's not a 'forced diversity' thing is it. because if it is i'm about to go off.

lol not really, that's a shit argument and that's it.



also every time something violent happens i think about the quote (i think from neil druckmann?) about staff watching videos of people getting stabbed and stuff and ones from others about how that had negative psychological effects on the staff watching it and just. i don't see the point, that's dumb as hell. don't traumatise your staff for something that most people won't know the difference about, because most people. have never stabbed anyone in the neck. so they can't tell if it's realistic or not.

honestly feeling a fondness for the ffxiii dev talking about polishing a rock. you got off pretty easy there, buddy.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
if they would just cut one sections from levels--one building to traverse through, one clearing to pass through--the pace would be quicker and i would be happier. i don't mind games being long, but in something like an rpg where that time is spent grinding or whatever i can listen to something while i'm doing it. i don't really want to do that here because i don't know when the next story bit is going to be or if there's going to be some more dialogue

when you have the boat, there's a part where you come across a building with scars and wlf fighting. i thought maybe you could skip that if you want but you have to drive your boat through there. maybe you could speed through if you want, idk.

but then you go through the arcade, where you need to open a gate but as you're moving stuff you fall through the floor and have to fight a bloater before you can open the gate. personally i would keep the arcade, since fighting a bloater is at least something new for seattle compared with more scars/wlf. but you only get one.

every time i try a door and hear 'locked. gotta find another way around' i lose a day off my life out of despair. this game is actively shortening my time on earth. it's not even like silent hill where locks are broken and you just can't go in there, i would almost be glad if they just did that to me now.

instead you find your way around one locked door, and make your way to the next location... and the door is locked and you have to do it all again. and all i get for my troubles is a note or a few resources and if i'm super lucky a trading card.
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
Finally going through the game on my own after passively watching my SO through a little more than half of it. figured I'd just keep updating this post as I go through, rather than make multiple posts.

This isn't really meant to be anything other than unedited thoughts and reactions as I play. Some stuff is lifted directly from instant messages I've been sending, lol. It will probably end up being very long, but dont take it as anything super formal, please and thank you :monster:

Actually, this ended up absurdly long. So I'm gonna post what I have for the first section of the game, then I'll post the second half when I'm done.

Right out of the gate : holy fuck this game looks phenomenal.

The areas are vast and open, which makes it feel a lot bigger and lived-in compared to the first game. That said, knowing about the crunch for games, I feel like the level of detail isn't really in service of much, other than having stuff to marvel at? Idk I don't wanna say a lot of the polish wasn't worth it, because it is all in service of making everything spectacular. It just seems like a lot of the flashiness doesn't really add a whole lot to the experience, and that consideration feels extra bad within the context of labour exploitation.

I'm uncomfortable talking about crunch culture cuz I'm affected by it, having gone through crunch-time myself... but the demands + length of video game production seems so much more arduous than what I do. Every time I come across a room or alcove that serves no purpose, I cant help but think "oh damn, that was probably a week's worth of dubiously compensated overtime." I mean, I've been there, its part of the expectation of having these kinda jobs, and sometimes you don't even get your name in the credits. I think it needs acknowledging, but the conversation doesn't start and end with Naughty Dog? It's not like shit products (be it game, movie, TV show etc.) aren't also made with some sort of crunch/labour exploitation. This is probably one of the best (possibly the best) looking things made for the PS4, but there's a lot that just seems unnecessary. If you're coming into this game with any awareness of this topic, it does make you consider about whether or not certain things are worth it. The simple answer is that the human cost is never worth it, and that this type of production is unsustainable. It's also a way bigger discussion than one title can really account for.

Idk what else to say here really, I just want to get my rambly thoughts about this issue out of the way before talking about anything else :/

Now that I can put that aside... I must say, holy shit. As someone who lives close to Seattle and has spent a good chunk of time there... they really nail these real life landmarks (as well as the miserable weather, lol). There are parts of the environments where I can recognise spots I've actually been to IRL, and it's really insane to see in such detail.

On the openness of the levels again: I think I like the tightness of the level design in the first game better. For the amount of space there is, I'm finding that I use very little of it to clear an area. This might be reflective of the fact I'm playing normal, and the design is more pertinent to harder difficulties. I guess it's technically an improvement from the first game, but the first area of Seattle stands out as needlessly huge.

There's a difficulty spike once you get to Day 2. The space becomes more integral through this chapter. This chapter's level design starts to reflect Ellie's character development, which is really cool. As a more stealth-oriented player, dogs and fucking stalkers fuck me up. From a gameplay standpoint, I really enjoy their contribution to the mechanics.

I'm liking the more action focused combat. It's consistently cinematic and feels good to control. Every encounter has well-curated tension, and it's all very satisfying. Sometimes I am surprised by the seemlessness between combat and a cinematic. The AI has been improved, and your companions are more helpful compared to the first game. To me, the brutality of the the animated violence is just embellishments of what was already there in the first game. Idk, I dont find the combat violence is calling as much attention to itself as much as I've seen people discuss on the internet, but maybe I'm just as cold as Ellie :P Of course, it's very realistic, but I felt the first game already made a lot of strides to capture a sense of realism as well. Ofc, there's only so much that's achievable on that front - there are still many goofy moments because of the AI behaviour.

Speaking of - tricking infected to attack the human enemies is an excellent touch and is ALWAYS satisfying. Maybe this is what ludonarrative dissonance means, because I'm not exaggerating when I say I laugh every time I pull it off.

The puzzles are... meh. There's more variety to them, but there's still nothing much to say here.

I'm using an older PS4, and I'm amazed at how little an issue I'm having with stuff like load times. No noisy fan issue for me either. There's some forced-walking segments at the beginning, which I usually find very annoying, but not many. The way they mask the load screens don't really annoy me either, probably because the areas are so huge and I'm typically going through them very slowly anyway. All in all, this game is a visual/technical marvel.

The game recaps with a recap of the end of the first game, as Joel explains it to Tommy. It's good to see the plot immediately move on from the "hope for a cure" idea. The first game already dealt with the ramifications of that story line, and I don't think it needs to be drawn out for any other reason than its impact on the characters. I'm already on board with the set up for what's going on.

That isn't to say that makes the world completely bleak. Jackson is shown to be doing very well as a community. The "survive at all costs" mantra that Joel had in the first game is not the motto here. There is a sense of comraderie and almost-normalcy to the lives the characters lead. It's as if everyone wears a fucking mask cares for each other, humanity has hope.

There's a tutorial portion where you play as Abby. I am sure there will be enough to say about her later.

As far as an opening goes, I thought Joel's death was done pretty well? It was definitely brutal, but I'm not really seeing most of the complaints I've seen about the writing on this point. I thought the stage was set up believably, as the entire opening gives all the necessary set up for that moment. Abby's motivations aren't explicit yet, but given the way the game opens, its clear there's a connection with the Firefly Hospital. She's shown to be the most motivated of her group, as the rest are second-guessing their desire to continue. I found Joel's line about her rehearsed speech was a befitting way to set the tone of the game. The whole thing was definitely gut-wrenching and brutal. RIP Joel! :(

...can you imagine how pissed people would be if Naughty Dog made the player kill Joel while playing as Abby. I hate to think it.

Ellie and Dina have a great dynamic. They are a good OTP. I'm enjoying their banter, it's very cute. Not gonna lie, I got very emotional when you first get to play them, and it dawned on me that these are my leads. It's not the type of game where this characterization is something you can choose to not engage with if you desire. I can wax a lot of poetic about how playing them made me feel - it has been emotionally fulfilling experience in a way no other prestige AAA video game has come close to. If there is one, then please tell me about it, because as far as I know, there isn't one that puts a gay couple front and center, and give them this level of treatment.

There are some time skips in the story I feel like I would have liked to see firsthand. Dina and Ellie's journey to Seattle is the chief thing that comes to mind. We only get descriptions of it through Ellie's journal, and I'm feeling a little robbed here. I would have liked to spend more time lingering in Jackson as well, and getting to know the people there better. At this point, I kinda wish the whole game was a big gay road trip with the second half (or maybe latter 3/4) being what goes down in Seattle? I have clear bias though, and the plot seems to want to get right into it. I'm fine with that right now. I'll reflect on how I feel about this later.

Dina is bae. I really like the way they develop her character through this chapter. Her comments about her sister better contextualizes her stakes in the revenge plot. I wish there was more of this tbh, Dina is interesting. I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of nice moments that happen here. I was under the impression that it would be misery porn the whole way through. I can say that's not the case, for this chapter at least.

The descriptions on the trading cards being insights on different parts of the game is a nice touch. It keeps me genuinely interested in reading every one I pick up.

There are a few really good character moments here. Ellie plays Dina a silly meme song (Take on Me by A-ha) and it's cute. Ellie's dialogue in the Halloween store hit me in the feels :( The scene with Joel and Ellie finding the "LIARS" graffiti gave me genuine chills.

The pregnancy reveal was probably the most hammy plot-thing so far. It's nothing too egregious right now, but I am... wary. I probably would have preferred if Dina had gotten sick or injured tbh - The journey is clearly taking a toll on both of them, and that's being reflected in the character models. I'm choosing to roll with it until I'm fully bothered.

I enjoy how Ellie's revelation to Dina of her immunity played out. I just... really like how their relationship fits in this story tbh. The way Ellie's demeanour shifts as soon as they encounter the WLF is very well delivered. Ashley Johnson's performance is incredible.

...Now that Dina is out of commission, I have a bigger feeling that I'm going to wish that the whole game was completely focused on the Ellie/Dina side of the journey.

My biggest criticism so far is how dumb some of these jump scares are. For example, I dislike how my horse dying amounted to a cheap jump scare. There were a couple of others that I rolled my eyes at, but that one stands out because of how it compares to Callus in the first game. Callus' death actually gave me pause to lament his loss, because he meant something to the journey. Not to say they should try to replicate that exactly, but neither Ellie nor Dina seemed to give much of a shit about Shimmer's well being. There is one line of dialogue from Dina, but it feels like it was added in later in order to make another conversation about pets not be at odds with their lack of acknowledgement for the horse they've spent weeks with. That one line wasn't really enough though.

All-in-all, the story beats are more-or-less hitting as they should. The flashback at the end of the chapter was well placed, and it felt needed at this point of the story.

I have yet to feel bad about killing any humans. Am I supposed to? I do feel a bit bad for killing the dogs. They make really awful whimpering sounds and it's not nice. Not sure what this means with regards to "ludonarrative dissonance" yet, but I suppose more concrete thoughts on that will come later. I'll say it's designed to be very unpleasant, but it's not a game breaking level of unpleasant for me. I understand how others could feel that it is, though.

The juxtaposition of present-day Ellie vs the kid we are reminded of in the flashback is emphasizing the weight of this developing tragedy. I think the violence isn't really pointing me towards feeling guilty myself, but I am buying the character progression of Ellie turning into a monster. That's making me feel for her, so I suppose that's what the violence is more in service towards? I guess there's a sort of disconnect from me as a "spectator" to the story, and the separation between me "playing/self inserting" as Ellie, and Ellie herself. I feel like there are three things going on, and I'm leaning towards feeling more like an audience for the most part, even when I am doing the playing. Or maybe we are both complete psychopaths, because the killing does spark a sort of feral joy :P

Anyway, Jesse has now joined the party. Jesse seems like a nice enough dude, but this revelation is kinda underwhelming. I still have apprehensions about the baby mama drama. The way the level led up to this reveal was very well-delivered though, despite whatever lukewarm feelings I have for the character. Once again, I think I could have used some more time in Jackson to really get to care about this guy some more, cuz right now I'm just like... Jessie? Alright... /shrug

There's another flashback here. It feels a bit oddly placed. This sniping tutorial with Tommy feels like it should have come at the beginning. Even though Tommy is from the first game, his relationship with Ellie is essentially new. Thus, like Jesse, I would've liked to see their relationship before this to justify their presence in the story a bit more. Gonna reiterate that a lot of this feels like it would've been time better spent at Jackson at the start.

We do get a lot of Joel being a cute dorky dad. Shimmer makes a reappearance, just when I was forgetting about how unbothered Ellie was about her dying. This playable section with Joel as the companion feels like a nice reprieve from the miserable direction the story is taking. The Bloater fight made me shit my pants because I thought I had a game over but it was actually the end of the fight. Dunno if its just how it played out for me, but the seemless transition made it a really good scare.

I'm kind of in two minds of this strange flashbacking, because the shift for this one was more jarring than the last. On the other hand, it is providing some pay off for stuff we saw during the opening. Hmm.

I lolled at it being called "Route 5." I'm not gonna say anything more, if you know you know :P

Ellie is now almost completely demented. She's becoming increasingly non-verbal, so a lot of emotions I *think* she's feeling are tiny nuances in facial expression that I'm reading into. Ashley and the animators/modelers really put work into her, and it shows.

Omg the game broke a mutual understanding by having someone attack me while I was upgrading my weapon :@ fuck you game, you got me.

Stalkers are fucking terrifying. I'm starting to feel more tense in combat in general. I dunno if it's just me, but it seems as if the game is subtly encouraging me to play more desperate and brutish as Ellie is becoming more deranged? These religious weirdos are scarier than the other human enemies too and I dont like their freaky whistling :(

This whole thing with Nora was... dark :( I'm feeling a lot of for Ellie right now. I'm saddened, I sympathize, and I'm sickened. Our baby girl has become a monster.

I've been generally okay with the flashbacks so far, but the one that happens at the end of this chapter is the first one I feel is in need of a serious re-write. Ellie's return to the Firefly hospital breaks a lot of my suspension of disbelief. I've been able to accept a lot of the fast travel/time skip stuff, because the story had an intention with its pacing. Plus, Jackson is doing well, so I can fill in the gaps thinking they'd be pretty well equipped on any expedition. The main problem I have with this scene is that I don't think this confrontation needed to happen at this location. It would have made more sense if perhaps Ellie threatened to go there, rather than hastily taking off in the dead of night.

Also, the Firefly Hospital is a very important place in the narrative. If we want a scene of Ellie going back there, I think it needs to be separated from the argument, and given better treatment. The pay off would have been more poignant if this area was fully explorable, perhaps even a reused map from the first game. The plot could easily be retweeked to have Tommy/Ellie/Dina head there first, before finding evidence of needing to head to Seattle.

The way I imagine it in my fantasy version of the game where you don't have a timeskip from Jackson to Seattle:
- have Ellie in the place where Joel committed the act that ruined their relationship (also the birthplace of this revenge cycle).
- the grief of his death turns to rage as she finds information about this WLF group in Seattle, and the girl named Abby
- this rage cements her resolve to this revenge plot (essentially committing to do the same thing Joel did for her).

Thematically, I think it would serve the story so much better, and flesh out the internal journey of Ellie-Abby-Joel more concretely. That's just spit-balling ideas to be constructive though! I feel like the story is very "destination" focused, and often at the expense of the the journey portion. It sucks because I actually quite like the way the story beats are hitting in a broad sense. There are things that could be done to make them land more strongly.

Finale of Day 2: Jesse continues to be completely uninteresting, even though he is a very nice person. Niceness is also the flimsiest reason to go chasing a pair of murderous lesbians across several states -_- I almost warmed up to him when he was about to give Ellie her intervention moment (maybe he came to be the voice of reason and try to stop this madness??) but then he... backs out and goes along with whatever Ellie says. The pregnancy plot is just not doing anything for me. I get they're trying to make the relationship between the three ~non toxic~ but this is all feeling a little hamfisted.

So Jesse acts as an almost voice of reason, then fucks off at the most inopportune moment? Wtf? This character sucks.

Annoying vehicles are probably my most hated sections in these kinds of games -_- I was happy when that thing drowned.

This aquarium section is pretty dope. Yes, the is an accurate reflection of what the weather is like here for a good ~150 days out of the year. Feeling really pumped to go fight Abby. I haven't seen her for the whole game yet and now it's time to -

Oh. Its just Owen and Mel. Ellie freaks out because she kills a pregnant lady. O... kay? Maybe I'm just a cold hearted baby hater, but if this is what the pregnancy storyline is supposed to lead to, then that's a little silly :monster: I've been on board with everything so far, but at this point I cant help but laugh. Also, Ellie hates dogs now but is upset over an unborn child? That's not very woke of her #elliecancelationparty2020 (i'm kidding).

If I were to be constructive, and do my imaginary re-write - if they want Ellie to identify Mel with Dina at this point, I'd prefer it if had more to do with something else, maybe Dina's faith? I say this because when they had that conversation earlier in the synogogue, Ellie seemed to be moved. Whereas, the pregnancy is something she's been either ambivalent or actively hostile about. Say, they gave Mel a Star of David pendant and a note to a little sister? Maybe earlier on, add a more in depth conversation about the murder of Dina's sister in order to hammer home the point. I dunno, maybe that still wouldn't work for some people. For me, it just seems like the dots are already there to make this point less corny. The whole baby aspect of it is an unnecessary embellishment of the point, adds a whole character that takes up space in the plot, doesnt line up with Ellie's reactions thus far, etc.

Anyway, Tommy and Jesse bust in out of nowhere. Then Abby busts in the next scene and kills Jesse. So his whole purpose was to be the fridged sperm donor. I'm gonna nickname him Jesse, the anti-Bechdel test.

This is all very dramatic.

It's now a flashback with Abby. I think I'm gonna end it here because there's a lot to unpack.

I was gonna use this as closing thoughts, but this post is so long I'm stopping off here, then will continue on through Abby's section.

First off, I can't say how I would have reacted if this game was a complete surprise to me, because it was not. I read spoilers when the leaks happened. I passively watched about half a playthrough before starting my own. As much praise that I have for the first The Last of Us, I'm not coming into the sequel with 7 years of anticipation. I managed to avoid spoilers and play the first game a few months before the release of the second. On top of that, the praise I do have for the first is mostly clinical praise. It wasn't a super profound emotional experience for me. I sympathize for those who did have that kind of experience and were let down. While I dont think this is the total train wreck it's made out to be, there are definitely issues which imo, could have easily been worked out.

This new game lays a lot of good foundation to make me feel very hard hit by things, but doesnt take them all the way. While I appreciate the thematic consistency between the two games, the second is lacking the same impact of the first. (though to be fair, there's no way to follow up that ending with the same punch). When trying to asses why, I think it loses focus by juggling a just a bit too much.

Some main critiques :
- There seems to be an arc with Ellie and animals that feels a little tacked-on
- Jesse takes up unnecessary space in the cast, the whole pregnancy storyline doesn't feel like it really needs to happen - this is space that would have been more effectively spent on Tommy and Dina
- Certain emotional things happen at the necessary times, but lack some rising action / time to let the story breathe a little bit?

Baring all this in mind, I am mostly enjoying the plot so far. Your mileage may vary on the disjointed structure, but it's written well enough that everything makes sense and feels deliberate. I agree that it lacks the impact that the story wants the moments to have, and there's some immersion-breaking stuff used to justify getting to certain points. Like I said, it's very destination focused, often at the expense of the journey.

I've clocked in about ~20 hours, which is a little more than it takes to beat the first game. A good portion of that is empty exploring every corner of the gigantic maps. I feel like the Ellie portion of the game has perfect potential to stand on its own, and have a great impact if simplified a little bit.

Since I'm already feeling things have gotten too dense, carrying onto Abby right now feels exhausting lmfao. I'll probably make a separate post about my reaction to that, as well as my finale thoughts if anyone cares xD
 
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