Get ready to drop fifteen dollars for two or three hours of developing characters and telling stories in the same post-apocalyptic world that Joel and Ellie inhabit. That said, Joel won’t be around for much of this one, and you won’t control him during this story either.
In this specific piece of additional content, labelled Left Behind, you’ll experience a day that Ellie and Riley spent together. You may not remember Riley from the main campaign, but one hundred percent of the people who finished The Last of Us would know of her. She was the girl who Ellie was trying to talk about during the final cut-scene of the campaign, and knowing The Last of Us as well as we do, it’s easy to figure out which specific day they spent together.
Now this is where things are going to get very confusing, because the Left Behind DLC is actually a story within a story. In the timeline of the game, Joel and Ellie have just escaped from the University of Eastern Colorado, and have taken refuge in some local mall. While an injured Joel tries to stay in one piece, Ellie ventures further into the shopping complex in search of medical supplies. In between moments of Ellie searching stores shelves and dodging zombie creatures, the story flashes back to moments that Ellie and Riley shared in another mall in Boston.
In the timeline of the game, these Ellie and Riley moments happen before Joel ever met Ellie.
Now before you start writing comments about spoilers, this piece of DLC is all about the journey and not the destination. Along the way Riley and Ellie will discover many different mall attractions and interact with them. Many of these interactions, like the first time the girls discover Facebook, can be extremely humours or heart-warming. It’s interesting to watch these two girls try to connect with a world they never knew, but you quickly come to understand that the point of this DLC is these two girls and what they really mean to each other. Without spoiling anything, I will also add that this DLC re-contextualizes Ellie as a character.
At this point, I will also give you the benefit of my experience. The Last of Us is a game that includes weird zombie like creatures, and this DLC is no different. That said, all of the combat is left to “present day” Ellie who is searching around that Colorado mall for medical supplies. When the game focuses on Ellie and Riley you should just sit back and enjoy the story. Personally, I really wish I knew that going in. The Naughty Dog team spent a lot of time coming up with some of the greatest set pieces in gaming, so make sure to take the time and enjoy them without fear of being interrupted by the zombie horde.
I really only have two issues with the Left Behind DLC, and my biggest complaint would be the ending of the DLC. Naughty Dog puts forth the idea that you are searching the mall for supplies that could help Joel, but that actually becomes a story point. Just keep playing the game and those supplies will come to you. Since big publishers are convinced that you can’t sell a videogame that doesn’t have combat in it, this DLC also ends with a big fight. My issue is that the fight in question is preposterous.
If I were you, I would certainly play this DLC, but I would be more worried about collecting supplies for myself. Stealth is the greatest weapon for Joel or Ellie, but the DLC constantly forces you to create situations where you make a band of unfriendly human NPCs fight the hordes of zombies. There is no way to sneak past either faction when they’re on alert, so there will be a time during every battle when you’ll need to pick a side in order to be the last thing standing. In the final battle, or any battle, I would usually find myself outnumbered by one of the factions if I did not draw a gun or bow before the fight was finished.
My other issue is that the DLC’s tutorial is just not good. Naughty Dog was obviously aware that familiarity with the controls could become an issue because they added tutorial text that pops up while playing this DLC. Unfortunately, the text is situational, and some of those situations won’t happen until just before the DLC is over. This left me unable to figure out how to run until the final chapter, and I would have found that handy before the climatic end. Therefore, a quick trip through the main game’s tutorial level might be in order before starting this DLC.
Luckily for gamers who have wanted new content for The Last of Us, my complaints are few and far between. Controls (especially on a PS3), animation, level design, pacing, acting, lighting, artificial intelligence, story, and pretty much everything else is on the same high level that earned The Last of Us a bunch of game of the year awards in 2013.
In short, I highly, highly, highly recommend it.