For some gamers out there, platformer games can be the main deciding factor when considering which console to buy (when buying all of them is not a realistic option). Personally, I have been playing Playstation consoles my entire life, dabbling in other consoles and portable gaming platforms, yet I always seem to return to Playstation because of the exclusive games only available through their platforms. The Last of Us is an award-winning 3D action platformer game available only on Playstation consoles.
The single player campaign opens in the midst of a zombie virus outbreak among the entire world. The narrative follows two characters Joel, a father to a recently deceased daughter due to the outbreak, and Ellie a teenager who is believed to hold the cure to the virus in her immune system. Joel encounters a militia group, known as the Fireflies, that formed after the outbreak and is quickly tasked with the mission of delivering Ellie to other members of the militia outside the quarantined zone. Due to the initial conflict set up by the narrative and the undercover nature of the main mission, the suggested way to play the game is by remaining out of sight as much as possible and engaging enemies in a sly manner. However, games are places people flock to when looking for an escape from reality, a place with no rules or direction in some cases. For this reason, gamers approach games from different perspectives, causing them to play the game using different strategies.
Some player types such as the Killer player type defined by the Bartle player dichotomy the would prefer to take tactical approach to the task at hand, rather than a strategic one. For these type players, the combat they seek would include more face-to-face and traditional battles. For a strategic player, playing the game as if they themselves were in the shoes of the character, it is more appealing to remain as hidden as possible. The Last of Us also does a nice job of including both perspectives in specific instances. Players do not have to actively seek out or play intentionally with a certain strategy, the elements that Killers and Achievers enjoy most are built into the narrative at some main turning points, whereas most minor engagements are left up to the choice of the player.
In addition to the two polarizing player types mentioned previously, The Last of Us elegantly includes elements favored by the scavenger and artisan player types as well. Above the main mission of transporting Ellie to the Fireflies, there is obviously a larger responsibility to remain alive. There are several mechanics contained within the game that players can use to increase their chances of survival. Some of these mechanics include looting and crafting. It is possible to “loot” in virtually every scene of the game, although it is entirely the player’s choice whether to spend time looting or continue on with the main story line. Looted items can be used to craft items to boost health, melee weapons, and throwable items such as Molotov cocktails and nail bombs. These items are crafted with smaller parts players find by looting abandoned place and of course, classic to most Naughty Dog games, some of the better items require more exploring. Although all players must use items and crafting to some degree in order to play through the game successfully, the game will reward players more who spend more time searching for these items. This is also a positive feedback mechanism because players who are excelling in the game will be given opportunities to make the game easier through the use of the items they are able to craft. Crafting can also allow players to make improvements to Joel’s abilities and, at certain work benches found throughout the story, his firearms. Dylan Richmond
The craft-able items also introduce a variety of combat techniques that appeal to the wide array of player types. Certain enemies require some sort of tactic or craft-able item in order to defeat. A “clicker” is a type of enemy players encounter who uses its sense of hearing to detect players, making it easier for players to sneak around in plain sight, however players cannot engage this enemy without a weapon of some sort, or they will instantly die. This encourages players to come up with a clever and stealthy way to defeat this type of enemy. One option is to sneak up behind a clicker and use a craft-able item called a shiv in order to defeat the enemy. This is designed for rational players because this technique requires a great deal of thought and concentration in order to prevent the clicker from noticing the player. Aggressive players might ignore the clicker’s abilities of enhanced hearing and strength and face the clicker straight on with a gun or a melee weapon, such as a crowbar. Casual players may attempt to defeat the enemy from afar with one of the easiest methods, a Molotov cocktail. This item will attract the clicker to its flames and if the clicker has been standing in the flames for long enough, it will be defeated. This method is also best for defeating large hoards of zombies or clickers and might be chosen by a strategic or tactical player.
People have all sorts of play styles, approaches, and ways of enjoying video games, many beyond the scope of merely one game. Including these alternative pathways throughout video games increase their appeal to a greater number of people, which is ultimately the goal in creating a video game, yet having these various routes also increases the overall enjoyment of the game for everyone. For any player type, it is reassuring to know that if one of the options are situationally unavailable, another option is always at hand. The Last of Us artfully combines its narrative and combat mechanics with a multitude of viable player types. It’s the cross between elements and approaches from these player types that keeps The Last of Us fresh with every new engagement. Keeping a single consistent play style throughout the entire game is not an easy task for most, often times players must use a combination of strategies, abilities, and interact with various features in order to successfully complete The Last of Us.