5 Tips to Survive The Last of Us

It’s likely that you’ve heard a lot in the past week about The Last of Us on comment threads and game blogs across the internet. And the groundswell behind the game is totally justified; after all, The Last of Us is quite possibly one of the finest games set in a post-pandemic world to come about in a long, long time.

But those who have already had a chance to start it can attest to the fact that it’s not a game that will hold your hand. In fact, The Last of Us can be surprisingly difficult and requires a fair amount of strategy to successfully get through each combat encounter. Here are a few tips to help you on your way while getting Ellie across the country (no spoilers).

1) Scavenge, Scavenge, Scavenge

Like it would be in any real-world pandemic situation, supplies in The Last of Us are incredibly limited. Because of this, it’s imperative that you spend any spare seconds you have scavenging supplies and making sure you’ve completely cleaned out an area of any possible items that might help you.

Scavenging goes hand in hand with crafting, which the game uses to help you create new items and tools to aid in your survival. While scavenging, you might find tape, rags, blades, sugar, and alcohol, all of  which can be combined in different ways to make shivs, health kits, and bombs. Also, the occasional weapon upgrade and historical document both add some serious value to the gameplay and narrative as a whole. Finally, bullets are extremely limited, so you’ll want to make sure there’s no chance you’ll miss seeing them.

2) Arts & Crafts

Like I said in the first tip, crafting is an incredibly important system to utilize. You won’t find many complete shivs, bombs, or health kits out in the wild, so using the supplies you’ve found to scavenge will become all the more necessary if you want the most stress-free and successful playthrough.

After taking a look at the crafting options, you’ll notice there’s a fair amount of choice involved in what you want to do with your supplies. What should you craft first, and what will you need the most?

My opinion: start out with health kits. You can never have too many of these on hand, especially because Joel can’t take a ton of damage in combat. Try and have a few of these queued up in case you need to bandage your wounds during battle. Starting encounters all over again thanks to death is no way to spend your free time.

After health kits, I’d recommend making as many shivs as you possibly can. These and health kits take top priority in my mind, as there are several instances during the game where stealth will be the best option when engaging multiple enemies. This is especially true in the sequences that involve Clickers. Being that Clickers are incredibly dangerous and typically get you with a one-hit kill, you’ll need to take them down quietly to avoid any nasty situations where you’re outnumbered by the powerful infected. Clickers are best done away with silently using shivs, and since shivs have a limited number of uses before they break, you’ll want to keep them handy.

There aren’t many quiet moments in between action in The Last of Us, but make sure to use this time wisely as a chance to find supplies, craft items, and get the lay of the environment so you’re well prepared.

3) Bombs Away!

While crafting will yield items such as shivs and health kits, you’ll also want to consider the use of bombs whenever possible. These aren’t used up quite as quickly as the other crafted items, so it’s not necessarily something that takes top priority when you have a second to craft. Still, they’re a great tool to have on hand.

Molotov cocktails are essentially the grenades of The Last of Us and spread a small fire upon impact that will set nearby enemies ablaze. They’re great when thrown just right, but aren’t guaranteed to cause the damage you might need or want at that moment in time. Use these as a last resort or when you can catch enemies in close-knit groups for maximum effect.

Standard bombs are a crude conjuration of a soup can, explosive material, and blades that will detonate when an enemy comes into contact with it. These bombs guarantee an instant kill and are great to use as traps. Leave them in doorways, stairwells, or in a guard’s walking path to take out harder enemies or to clear a path.

Finally, smoke bombs use sugar and explosive material to shroud the environment in hazy smoke that prevents enemies from seeing you. This is great to use for stealth or to catch a break, since enemies won’t fire weapons through smoke and won’t be able to go after you. This works on both human enemies and the infected, making things a bit easier on you when you’re engaging several of them at once.

4) Explore

This goes hand in hand with scavenging, but it also serves a higher purpose. Yes, exploration will allow you to find precious supplies, but it also gives the player an opportunity to learn about the world and piece it together. The Last of Us is a game with fantastic atmosphere and detail, and these are best appreciated by themselves when you’re simply taking the time to explore. Ellie will talk to you about life before the outbreak, you’ll see the stories of survivors play out through their notes and journals, you’ll find recordings that will explain what happened to people, and you’ll get a deeper sense of the disparaging tone of the world itself.

Although it comes from the same company, The Last of Us is no Uncharted clone. Yes, they’re both linear experiences, but you’ll actually want to wander off the beaten path to learn more and understand the events that took place during The Last of Us. It’s a powerful and moving experience on its own, and exploration takes this a step further.

5) Up, up, upgrade!

The Last of Us is no RPG, and there’s no XP to be gained from killing enemies or completing quests. That aside, there’s still a lot of upgrading to do that will serve as necessary if you want to continue to survive your trek across the country. Using items you’ve found, you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons to make them more effective, and you’ll be able to upgrade Joel and his abilities to make him more hardened and able to cope with danger. Health increases, hearing ability enhancement, and shiv expertise are but a few of the upgrades available to make for our war-weary protagonist.

Every time you find a workbench, I’d suggest taking off the backpack and seeing if you’re able to upgrade any of your weapons. Reload speed tended to be the first upgrade I went for on my weapons, as all of the guns take a dangerously long amount of time to reload right off the bat. After that, firing rate was my next move, as it’s maddening to not be able to fire bullets in quick succession with several enemies running toward you.

I was never really compelled to upgrade clip capacities, since the game arms you with so many weapons anyway, and ammunition is hard to come by. Very rarely was I unable to pick up ammo due to my gun being maxed out.

Really, my biggest recommendation is to experiment. While I’d use just about any weapon I could, I tended to gravitate toward the hunting rifle, shotgun, revolver, and El Diablo pistol when in combat. Because of this, I tried to give these weapons priority when sitting down for upgrades. Play with your own combinations, and I’m sure you’ll find what you like best as well.

Have any other tips for surviving The Last of Us? Tell me in the comments below!