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Letters from the Front

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( Played on PS4 Pro.)

The Last of Us was one of the best games of last generation, so expanding it with DLC is no surprise. With Left Behind, it is the only SP DLC for the game and we exactly see that. See the expanding of this fantastic universe, being in this fully realized, brutal, and fascinating post-apocalyptic United States includes both a really good story and an interesting take on combat.

Left Behind isn’t a derivative on the original story, nor is it an afterthought. The story here is as good as it is in the base game, with two equally fascinating characters and a meaningful story set up as a prologue before the start of the base game, fleshing out Ellie’s story with a character by the name of Riley. Here, we get to see who Ellie really is and her connection to this other girl, Riley, and how that shapes her by the time she meets Joel.

Left Behind takes place primarily in a mall which is a nice touch because two girls going to the mall is something that happens alot in the real world and it’s important here because these two girls, Ellie and Riley, doesn’t know that but yet they’re doing the same thing that teenage girls would use to do before the apocalypse.

Playing as Ellie isn’t groundbreaking because we played as her in the base game. What’s interesting here, however, is that she hasn’t been hardened by her experiences with Joel and she doesn’t know who Joel is at this particular moment and playing as Ellie in this timeframe is a night-and-day difference when compared to playing as Joel in the base game.

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These night-and-day differences play out and soon is evident when Ellie finds herself in combat. Joel could take on basically anything with his fists and melee weapons, Ellie needs to keep her distance. She can stab people, can stalk and kill unsuspecting enemies and do it quietly but the difference is that she can be surrounded easily. She can also craft items and wield firearms but she doesn’t have the combat experience that Joel has gained through two decades of surviving and you feel that when you play as Ellie in Left Behind. Much like in the base game, the combat takes you out of the experience although it has been redefined, it still has somewhat shoddy gunplay.

I wondered if the combat was truly necessary here as it was in the base game. In the base game, combat was necessary but the emphasis was more on exploration and telling this unique story. Here, it is the same way and combat feels forced and unnatural. I wanted more of what The Last of Us did, more of an emphasis on the story, the characters, the world around you but it doesn’t quite do that: Combat seems forced, especially at the end of the expansion. It felt shoehorned instead of it being natural like in The Last of Us.

Outside of the combat, playing Left Behind is marvelous and it’s filled to the brim with amazing story essential moments that really bring out who Ellie is and tells you more about her in this prologue. Left Behind is a nice foray back into this dangerous world that these two wonderful characters inhabit. Play Left Behind first and then jump into the base game to see how the full story comes around, you don’t want to miss this one. It’s probalby one of the best expansions I’ve played.

Verdict: 9.5 / 10

 

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