The Last of Us Part II: Why the controversy? (SPOILERS)


   On June 14, 2013, gamers across the globe were introduced to one of the greatest games ever made: The Last of Us. The game has one of the most emotional and gripping stories ever told. As soon as it came out, both critics and audiences alike were raving about how amazing it was. When a trailer was released for the sequel in 2016, fans were ecstatic for The Last of Us saga to continue. However, things started to quickly turn sour for most fans. A lot of people started to turn their backs on it, and I still don’t understand why people hate it.

   The Last of Us is about a man named Joel Miller who is in a post-apocalyptic world. During the initial outbreak, his daughter, Sarah, was killed by a soldier who was trying to stop the spread of the virus. The virus, called Cordyceps Brain Infection (a real-life, fungus-based virus that infects ants), came along and wiped out most of the human population and infected a ton of people, essentially turning them into zombies. Joel is assigned by a militia group called the Fireflies, who fight against the new martial law-based government, to take a 14-year-old girl named Ellie Williams across the country. He was assigned to take Ellie because she was bitten by one of the zombies and it had no effect on her. They head to a hospital where they do experiments on her because they believe they can make a vaccine using her DNA. When Joel finally brings her, though, he learns that the doctors have to kill Ellie in order to make the vaccine. Joel and Ellie spent a lot of time with each other, and Ellie has become a daughter figure to Joel because she reminds him of Sarah. Hearing that she had to be killed makes him so upset that he breaks into the hospital, takes Ellie, and in doing so, kills almost every single person in the hospital, most of them being Fireflies. When Ellie starts to regain consciousness, she asks Joel if they made the vaccine out of her and he says, “We found the Fireflies. Turns out, there’s a whole lot more like you, Ellie. People that are immune. It’s dozens actually. Ain’t done a damn bit of good neither. They’ve actually st- They’ve stopped looking for a cure. I’m taking us home,” which is untrue. Ellie later asks Joel if he was lying, and he says it was the truth. That is how the first game ends.

   The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after The Last of Us. The year is 2038, and Ellie is 19 years old. The pandemic and the zombies have gotten worse. Society has deteriorated. Ellie is no longer speaking to Joel after she found out the truth about the Fireflies, and how Joel killed everyone in the hospital to save her from being killed. Ellie felt like her life could have been used for good if used for the vaccine, and Joel took away her choice. Right as their relationship is being mended, Joel is killed by someone named Abby, a part of a militia group called the Washington Liberation Front (WLF), which are the last remaining Fireflies. Abby kills Joel because when Joel killed most Fireflies at the hospital, her dad was the main surgeon who would have done the operation on Ellie. When Ellie finds this out, and who killed him, she seeks revenge by trying to find Abby and killing her.

   On April 26, 2020, two months before the game was supposed to come out, a major leak came out about The Last of Us Part II. Someone who got ahold of parts of the story leaked it online before the game was released. The person leaked that Joel is killed by Abby, and then for the second half of the game, you play as her. This enraged a lot of fans, as many people had become emotionally attached to Joel. They were upset because they were going to play as the person that killed someone they grew fond of. Fans were also mad because the previous trailers made it look like you played as Joel for a significant amount of the game, when in reality, you played as Joel for maybe an hour, and then spent the rest of the plot switching between Ellie and Abby. I will criticize this part of the game. The way they handled the dual narrative of Ellie and Abby wasn’t atrocious, but they could have handled it better. They made it so you switched to Abby right at the climax of the game when things were starting to get good. Basically, you were forced to play the game all over again as someone else, who for the most part at this point, you don’t like. You play as each character in the span of three days. I personally think that they should have made it so you play day one as Ellie, then play day one as Abby, and so on.

   Another thing that was considered controversial, for a stupid reason, was the decision to add pro LGBTQ+ themes to the game. A lot of “fans” (and I’ll circle back to why I added quotation marks next to the word “fans” in a minute) were irritated that Ellie’s character is a lesbian and has a relationship with a woman named Dina. They said that Naughty Dog was just trying to pander and that it was some tactic to make more money. First of all, who cares if she is gay or not? Second of all, to get back to why I added quotation marks next to the word “fans,” real fans found out that Ellie is a lesbian back in 2014 when an expansion to The Last of Us called The Last of Us: Left Behind, released. In the story, Ellie kisses another girl. 

   Another part that angered fans was adding a transgender character. When you play as Abby, you meet someone named Lev, who is a part of a group called the Seraphites. The Seraphites banished him from the group because Lev was previously called Lilly, and he felt like he was a boy. He shaved his head and changed his name to Lev. I’m really confused as to why people still feel like this is a big deal. People are getting mad about a character, who has felt like he is a boy his whole life, becoming a boy. I feel like it should not have been as big of a problem as fans made it out to be.

   As a fan of The Last of Us, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience playing through The Last of Us Part II. Despite the dual narrative needing a bit of tweaking, I still enjoyed playing through both of the characters and seeing their sides of the story. Naughty Dog was able to release a game with a great story, great gameplay, and overall, they provided me with an experience that I am so thankful I was able to get. 

   The Last of Us Remastered, the better way to experience The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Left Behind, as well as The Last of Us Part II, are exclusively on PlayStation 4 and can be played on PlayStation 5 as well.