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The Last of Us – Left Behind is the Perfect Way to do DLC
The Last of Us didn’t need any extra content. It was a package so thoroughly realized and meticulously created. The characters exhibited substantial growth throughout the story, the gameplay didn’t overstay its welcome, and the story itself was a cohesive narrative that had a clear beginning and end. It was the perfect mesh of all the elements of what makes a single-player game so great, and it was deserving of Leviathyn’s 2013 Game of the Year.
So when Naughty Dog announced that more story-related DLC was going to be released for The Last of Us, it seemed a bit superfluous. Does a game with such an outstanding narrative really need any more content added on top of it? Turns out, Left Behind is the perfect way to implement story-related DLC into an already amazing game.
Left Behind delves further into Ellie and her back story, illustrating the events that happened a few weeks before the beginning of the main game. It divulges the relationship between Ellie and her friend Riley, and how this connection was instrumental in turning Ellie to the person she is during her time with Joel. But it also isn’t just a prequel; Left Behind deftly interweaves sections that took place during The Last of Us and contrasts them with her interactions with Riley.
The moments with Riley are simply fantastic, but the gameplay segments that take place during the main game feel important and significant as well. It intelligently fills in the blanks during a section of the story that didn’t really need to be fleshed out, but just seeing what happened during that time is intriguing nonetheless. The cinematic artistry that made The Last of Us so great is present in Left Behind as well, with a level of polish that people have come to expect from Naughty Dog.
The way Left Behind fleshes out Ellie’s story while also providing a peek into some of the parts of the original game is the way that story-driven DLC needs to be implemented. There’s nothing here that players need to see if they want to get the full enjoyment of The Last of Us, nor does this DLC make the main game feel any less sufficient or compelling. The Last of Us was already packed to the brim with content, and Left Behind doesn’t feel like something the developers intentionally left on the cutting room floor in an attempt to charge players later on.
The Last of Us isn’t the only game that’s getting smart, meaningful updates to its single player experience. Freedom Cry, the DLC for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, focuses on Adewale and his struggles with slavery. A topic as sensitive as slavery is rarely even mentioned in video games, and seeing a high-profile game like AC IV tackle this is both refreshing and welcome. Bioshock Infinite’s Burial at Sea is a side-story that isn’t integral to the central plot thread of the original game, but an offshoot “what-if” story that returns the setting back to Rapture.
All of the aforementioned examples of DLC are the right ways to implement DLC, and it’s a far cry from some of the additional content that was being charged a few years ago. Don’t intentionally leave out chapters in the middle of the game (Assassin’s Creed II), don’t hide the true ending (Asura’s Wrath), and don’t hide an essential character that is integral to the story (Mass Effect 3). Thankfully, it seems as though developers have finally started to understand what kind of content makes story-related DLC feel worthwhile and compelling without making the players feel like they’ve been ripped off.