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The Last of Us: Left Behind

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The Last of Us: Left Behind
The Last of Us Left Behind cover.jpg
Developer(s) Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s)
Designer(s) Jacob Minkoff
Programmer(s)
  • Travis McIntosh
  • Jason Gregory
Artist(s) Erick Pangilinan
Writer(s) Neil Druckmann
Composer(s) Gustavo Santaolalla
Engine Havok Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s)
Release PlayStation 3
  • WW: February 14, 2014
PlayStation 4
  • NA: July 29, 2014
  • PAL: July 30, 2014
  • UK: August 1, 2014
Genre(s) Action-adventure, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player

The Last of Us: Left Behind is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 on February 14, 2014, as a downloadable expansion pack to The Last of Us; it was later bundled with The Last of Us Remastered, an updated version of the game released for the PlayStation 4 on July 29, 2014,[a] and was released as a standalone expansion pack for both consoles on May 12, 2015. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, players control Ellie, a teenage girl who spends time with her best friend Riley after her unexpected return.

The Last of Us: Left Behind is played from a third-person perspective; players use firearms, improvised weapons and stealth to defend against hostile humans and zombie-like creatures infected by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus. Players can use "Listen Mode" to locate enemies through a heightened sense of hearing and spatial awareness. The game also features a crafting system, allowing players to customize weapons through the upgrades.

The Last of Us: Left Behind was highly anticipated due to the critical success of The Last of Us. It was acclaimed by many reviewers, with particular praise for its story, characterization, and depiction of female and LGBT characters. It won several year-end accolades from multiple gaming publications.

Gameplay[edit]

The Last of Us: Left Behind is similar to the basic gameplay of The Last of Us. It is an action-adventure survival horror game that uses a third-person perspective. The game involves gunfights, melee combat and a cover system.[1] Players control Ellie. An added feature in combat is the ability to focus the attention of the Infected towards human enemies, by throwing objects to distract them. This results in a lower number of enemies to encounter, giving players a tactical advantage.[2] Throughout the game, players encounter locations and activities around the mall, such as a carousel, photo booth, video arcade, mask store and water guns. All of these locations and activities have some level of interactivity, allowing players to use them in different ways; for example, the photo booth allows players to select different mannerisms in which to pose for a picture, while using the water guns prompts players to soak Riley.[3]

Plot[edit]

In the aftermath of a fight that leaves Joel (Troy Baker) severely injured, Ellie (Ashley Johnson) searches an abandoned mall for supplies to heal him. She discovers a medical kit in a derelict military helicopter. Making her way back to Joel, Ellie is impeded by the Infected and members of a hostile human group. She fights her way back to the unconscious Joel, treats his open wound, and takes him to find a hideout for the coming winter.

Months earlier, before Ellie meets Joel, Ellie's friend Riley (Yaani King) surprises Ellie at their boarding school after weeks away. She reveals that she has joined the Fireflies, a revolutionary militia group, and takes Ellie to explore an abandoned shopping mall. Riley reveals that she has been assigned to a group of Fireflies in a different city, and broke the rules to see Ellie again. The girls argue, but Ellie eventually tells her that she supports her decision as it is something that Riley has wanted for a long time. Before parting, Riley plugs Ellie's walkman into the sound system and dances with her. Ellie tearfully begs Riley not to leave. Riley rips her dog tags off and Ellie kisses her. Drawn by the noise, the Infected pursue Ellie and Riley; they run, but are bitten. They consider suicide, but choose to spend their final hours together.

Development[edit]

A 35-year-old man with curly black hair talking into a microphone, looking at something to the left of the camera.
Neil Druckmann worked as the creative director on The Last of Us: Left Behind, writing the game's story.

Naughty Dog began developing The Last of Us: Left Behind following the release of The Last of Us in June 2013, with a team about half the size.[4] Following the decision to create single-player downloadable content for the game, the development team immediately decided that the story would focus on the character of Ellie; they found that players of The Last of Us were interested to learn about events in Ellie's life prior to the events of the main game, particularly the events involving Riley Abel, whom Ellie mentioned in The Last of Us. In addition, they found that some players were interested in the events that occurred between the Fall and Winter segments of the main game, in which Ellie cares for an injured Joel. This led to the team deciding to contrast these two events against each other, feeling it would help the story's pacing. Game director Bruce Straley said that the team felt the story justified the development of Left Behind.[5]

A 30-year-old woman with long, blonde hair, smiling at someone to the right of the camera.
Ashley Johnson portrayed Ellie in Left Behind, reprising the role from The Last of Us.

Left Behind was written to focus on the relationship between Ellie and Riley, and to recount the events that defined their later personalities.[6] Riley was chronologically introduced to Ellie in The Last of Us: American Dreams, a comic book written by creative director Neil Druckmann and artist Faith Erin Hicks. The team used the comic as a reference point when developing the relationship between Ellie and Riley, becoming particularly interested in having the chance to see more of their relationship;[5] Druckmann felt that they would not have developed Left Behind if American Dreams hadn't been written.[3] Druckmann felt that the story of Joel and Ellie's relationship in The Last of Us dealt with survival, loyalty and love, and that Ellie and Riley's relationship in Left Behind deals with similar themes. Straley felt that the themes involve love, loss and devotion, pondering the extent that one goes to protect those one cares about. Ashley Johnson portrayed Ellie in Left Behind, reprising her role from The Last of Us. To portray Riley, the team cast Yaani King; Johnson has noted that it was interesting to act against someone different, and that King fit the role immediately. King felt intimidated to become part of a large project, and was worried about "fit[ting] in".[5] The team found it interesting to tell the story of Riley, as players of The Last of Us were already aware of the effect that she had on Ellie; Left Behind sees Riley's behavior change Ellie, resulting in the latter's focus to fight in order to save those close to her. The team were also interested in Ellie's behavior around Riley; she is perceived as being more playful.[5] In Left Behind, Ellie and Riley share a kiss; the team explored omitting the kiss from the game, but felt that it was imperative to the story, and that it strengthened the relationship.[6] Though initially he only felt that Ellie viewed Riley as an influence, Druckmann later considered her romantic appeal, and decided to explore the concept.[3]

While writing The Last of Us, Druckmann had a general idea of the events that would shape Ellie's identity; when conceiving the story direction for Left Behind, he found that these events were suitable.[6] Druckmann felt that omitting the nature of the argument between Ellie and Riley, which took place prior to the events of the game, allowed players to draw their own conclusions. The team found various sections of the game interesting, such as the references to Facebook and Halloween, as the characters are unaware of their meaning.[3]

The smaller time frame of development for Left Behind gave the team an opportunity to trial mechanics and ideas that they were unable to test on the main game. With the game's combat, an added feature was to allow players to focus the attention of the Infected towards human enemies, allowing an easier escape. The gameplay was also more focused on the characters, as opposed to the combat, to allow players to relate to them more.[5] The gameplay sequences were designed to contrast with other moments of Ellie's life; for example, the water gun fight with Riley is contrasted to the gunfights with enemies.[3] The team found that creating some gameplay mechanics was a challenge, with even fewer combat scenarios in Left Behind than in The Last of Us.[6] The animation of the masks also presented a challenge, due to the number of joints; it took various iterations before the final design was implemented.[3]

The Last of Us: Left Behind was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 on February 14, 2014 as a downloadable expansion pack to The Last of Us.[7] It was later bundled with The Last of Us Remastered, an updated version of the game released for the PlayStation 4 on July 29, 2014.[a] It was released as a standalone expansion pack for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on May 12, 2015.[11]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic88/100[12]
Review scores
PublicationScore
CVG7/10[13]
EGM8.5/10[14]
Eurogamer10/10[15]
Game Informer8.75/10[16]
GameSpot9/10[17]
IGN9/10[2]
Polygon8/10[18]
VideoGamer.com7/10[19]

The Last of Us: Left Behind was released to critical acclaim. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating in the 0–100 range, calculated an average score of 88 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 69 reviews.[12] Reviewers praised the character development, story and subtext, gameplay and combat, and depiction of female and LGBT characters.

Tom Mc Shea of GameSpot found the story insightful,[17] and IGN's Colin Moriarty named it one of the game's standout features.[2] Matt Helgeson of Game Informer wrote that the writing "shines", and that it significantly assisted with the development of the characters.[16] Henry Gilbert of GamesRadar felt that the story was "intermittently intense, tragic, humorous, and even poignant".[20] Polygon's Samit Sarkar wrote that Left Behind "serves as a terrific side story" to the main game, but is "even more impressive" when taken on its own merits.[21] Nick Cowen of Computer and Video Games found the story "less satisfying" than The Last of Us due to its lack of new details about Ellie, but declared it "action-packed and enjoyable" nonetheless.[13]

The characters—particularly the relationship between Ellie and Riley—received acclaim. Polygon's Philip Kollar appreciated the game's ability to portray realistic female characters, noting that they "aren't easy stereotypes",[18] while GameSpot's Mc Shea felt new appreciation for Ellie by seeing her actions around Riley.[17] Helgeson of Game Informer welcomed the addition of Riley, noting that she is "played with the same level of emotional depth and subtlety" as other characters.[16] The Daily Telegraph's Tim Martin praised the "interplay" between the Ellie and Riley,[22] and Eurogamer's Stace Harman felt that the game improves the understanding of Joel and Ellie's relationship.[15] The character performances also received praise,[15][16] with IGN's Moriarty and Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton noting that the game improved as a result.[2][23]

Riley is kissed by Ellie; both are young girls.
Ellie and Riley share a kiss. This scene received a few positive reactions from critics, who called it a "breakthrough moment" for video games.[24]

The game received positive reactions in relation to its depiction of LGBT characters. The kiss shared by Ellie and Riley was described by Kotaku's Hamilton as "video gaming's latest breakthrough moment", declaring it "a big deal".[24] Keza MacDonald of IGN wrote that the kiss was "so beautiful and natural and funny that [she] was left dumbstruck".[25] Edward Smith of International Business Times felt that the kiss was "the first example of intimacy in a videogame that's meant anything", recognizing it as "an expression of both burgeoning teen sexuality and of ... friendship".[26] Amplify, a project of the non-profit advocacy group Advocates for Youth, reported that the kiss had attracted criticism from some players.[27]

Many reviewers found the gameplay and combat a refreshing difference from other games. Eurogamer's Harman commended the game's ability to link the gameplay to the story, noting that it adds "diversity and dynamism".[15] Helgeson of Game Informer praised the additional gameplay feature allowing players to force fights among the Infected and human enemies, naming such sequences "engaging",[16] while Martin of The Daily Telegraph appreciated the game's ability to contextualize the combat sequences.[22] However, some critics felt negatively about a gameplay sequence occurring late in the game, which requires players to kill a large number of enemies;[18] GameSpot's Mc Shea noted that it felt "unnatural",[17] and IGN's Moriarty called it "forced".[2] Electronic Gaming Monthly's Eric L. Patterson wrote that players will feel "disappointed" if they play the game "more for the gameplay than the story".[14]

The world and environments of the game drew acclaim from many reviewers. Polygon's Kollar called the game's locations "beautiful",[18] while Eurogamer's Harman wrote that the level design significantly improved the environments.[15] Moriarty of IGN praised the setting within the mall, due to its regularity in "the real, pre-apocalyptic world".[2] Mc Shea of GameSpot also felt that the game's focus on exploration allowed the "well-realized environments [to] breathe",[17] and Martin of The Daily Telegraph noted that Ellie's body size allowed for "quieter and faster" movement throughout the environments.[22]

Awards[edit]

The Last of Us: Left Behind received multiple nominations and awards from gaming publications. Following its release, GameSpot awarded Left Behind Game of the Month for February 2014.[28] For the year 2014, the game was review aggregator GameRankings' highest-rated PlayStation 3 game,[29] and Metacritic's third highest-rated PlayStation 3 game.[30] GameSpot nominated the game for Game of the Year,[31] and awarded it PS3 Game of the Year.[32] It also received Most Valuable Add-On Content at the SXSW Gaming Awards,[33] and Best DLC from Hardcore Gamer.[34] The game's story received awards at the 11th British Academy Video Games Awards,[35] IGN AU Black Beta Select Awards 2014,[36] and the 67th Writers Guild of America Awards;[37] the game's ending also won Best Memorable Moment from IGN Australia.[36] The character of Ellie received Most Valuable Character at the SXSW Gaming Awards, while Ashley Johnson's performance as the character won an award at the British Academy Video Games Awards.[35] The game was also recognized as being innovative; it was nominated for the Games for Change award at The Game Awards 2014,[38] as well as the Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award at the SXSW Gaming Awards.[33]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b The Last of Us Remastered was released on different dates, dependent on territory: July 29, 2014 in North America; July 30, 2014 in Europe, Australia and New Zealand; and August 1, 2014 in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[8][9][10]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Wells, Evan (December 10, 2011). "Naughty Dog Reveals The Last of Us at 2011 VGAs". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moriarty, Colin (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hudson, Laura (February 18, 2014). "Inside the Mind Behind the Brilliant New Last of Us DLC". Wired. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  4. ^ Zeldin, Ashley; Druckmann, Neil; Cambier, Ricky; Newman, Anthony (April 3, 2014). The Last of Us design panel. International Game Developers Association. Santa Monica. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015. I would say it's less than half the team that worked on the main game. We started on it as we were wrapping up The Last of Us. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Naughty Dog (2014). From Dreams - The Making The Last of Us: Left Behind. Sony Computer Entertainment. Archived from the original on March 1, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d Mc Shea, Tom (February 18, 2014). "The Last of Us Developers Talk Left Behind DLC [SPOILERS]". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  7. ^ Reynolds, Matthew (February 10, 2014). "Games out this week: Lightning Returns, The Last of Us Left Behind DLC". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Archived from the original on January 16, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  8. ^ Mathé, Charlotte; Reynolds, Matthew (July 1, 2014). "Games out this month: 10 biggest releases for July". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Archived from the original on February 8, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ LeJacq, Yannick (June 10, 2014). "The Last Of Us Is Coming To The PS4 On July 30". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017. 
  10. ^ Ashraf, Jawad (July 30, 2014). "New on PlayStation Store: The Last of Us Remastered, Rogue Legacy, more". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2017. 
  11. ^ Meyer, Arne (May 1, 2015). "The Last of Us: Left Behind launches as a standalone download this month". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "The Last of Us: Left Behind for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Cowen, Nick (February 14, 2014). "Review: The Last of Us Left Behind is poignant but paltry". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Patterson, Eric L. (February 13, 2014). "EGM Review: The Last of Us: Left Behind". Electronic Gaming Monthly. EMG Media, LLC. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Harman, Stace (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind review". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Helgeson, Matt (February 14, 2014). "An Emotional Look Into Ellie's Past - The Last of Us: Left Behind". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Mc Shea, Tom (February 13, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c d Kollar, Philip (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind review: friends till the end". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  19. ^ Miller, Simon (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind Review". VideoGamer.com. Pro-G Media. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  20. ^ Gilbert, Henry (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind review". GamesRadar. Future plc. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  21. ^ Sarkar, Samit (December 31, 2014). "2014 in review: The Last of Us: Left Behind was the best two hours of the year". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b c Martin, Tim (March 1, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind review". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  23. ^ Hamilton, Kirk (February 14, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  24. ^ a b Hamilton, Kirk (February 17, 2014). "Video Gaming's Latest Breakthrough Moment". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  25. ^ MacDonald, Keza (February 19, 2014). "The Significance of The Last of Us: Left Behind". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  26. ^ Smith, Edward (February 17, 2014). "The Last of Us: Left Behind Review". International Business Times. IBT Media. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  27. ^ Le, Hannah (June 2, 2014). "The Last of Us: Gamers Left Behind in Bigotry". Amplify. Advocates for Youth. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Game of the Month - February 2014 - The Last of Us: Left Behind - Game of the Year 2014". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Browse and Search Games — Highest Rated PlayStation 3 Video Games for 2014". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Best PlayStation 3 Video Games for 2014". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Game of the Year 2014". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. December 18, 2014. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  32. ^ "PS3 Game of the Year - The Last of Us: Left Behind". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. December 19, 2014. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b Blase, Aurora (March 14, 2015). "Congratulations to the 2015 SXSW Gaming Award Winners!". South by Southwest. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  34. ^ Hardcore Gamer Staff (December 27, 2014). "Best of 2014 – Day Eight: Action, Shooter, DLC, Multiplatform". Hardcore Gamer. Archived from the original on May 21, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b Nutt, Christian (March 12, 2015). "BAFTA Awards honors Destiny, Monument Valley, and David Braben". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  36. ^ a b "Black Beta Select Awards 2014". IGN. Ziff Davis. February 20, 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  37. ^ "WGA Award Winners & More — 2014 Writers Guild Awards". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. February 14, 2015. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  38. ^ Futter, Mike (December 5, 2014). "Here Are The Winners Of The Game Awards 2014". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 

External links[edit]