The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC Review
There’s no denying that The Last of Us was one of 2013’s biggest hits. Naughty Dog has always been a company that consistently delivers quality with its games, and their latest IP certainly was no exception. It’s been over half a year since gamers lived through Joel and Ellie’s journey to the Fireflies, leaving many clamouring for more to which, just recently, Naughty Dog has delivered.
Firstly, a disclaimer, this DLC should not be played until the main campaign has been completed at least once. The story of Left Behind feeds directly off the events of the main game and, as a result, some spoilers may be mentioned in this review.
Left Behind tells two tales side by side; both the story of Ellie and Riley’s activities the day they were infected and what happened when Ellie was left to fend for herself after Joel’s injury at the University of Eastern Colorado. The former is the most interesting aspect of the two, allowing players to learn more about the girl they cared for not so long ago, whilst the latter is mostly reserved for enemy encounters.
Without going into too much detail of the story, the way that Riley and Ellie bond throughout this relatively short journey is very colloquial and informal, in turn giving players an insight as to what life would be like for two teenage girls brought up in an infected world. As you explore the post-apocalyptic setting of the mall, you can interact with various activities which, more often than not, lead to further exposition of the relationship between the two characters and their respective backgrounds. Topics such as the difficulties in maintaining friendships, what to do for entertainment and even puberty are all tackled in a mature manner in Left Behind, resulting in a refreshingly different story and dynamic than what was present in the original.
Whilst playing any sections where Riley is present, there is a distinct lack of combat. At first, this can be disorientating, not having to check every corner nor crouch to navigate the immediate vicinity, but eventually you embrace the almost childlike naivety and get caught up exploring and just having fun in the traditional sense. A lot of the story is told through optional dialog that can be overlooked, however the game is presented in such a way that exploration soon becomes a focus and it’s unlikely that you’ll miss out on too much.
In contrast, when Riley isn’t present, the game takes a more action-focused approach to pass the time. The combat is much the same as it was previously, with survival and resource management always being priority. Finding cover and learning enemy patterns helps to ensure safe passage through most confrontations. Playing as Ellie can leave you feeling more vulnerable, with fleeing and hiding often being the more appealing option rather than confrontation even if only a small group of enemies.
The main change in combat here though, is that you will occasionally encounter both infected and human enemies simultaneously, resulting in Ellie needing to find a way to deal with both at the same time. This adds a new layer of depth to the combat, opening up new ways to overcome the challenge such as alerting both groups at the same time and letting them fight it out. It’s unfortunate though that these clashes were reserved for this DLC as it would have been interesting to experience this with Joel as well.
Not long after your first dual encounter however, you’ll be at the end of Left Behind. This is one of the main issues with the otherwise strong extra content – it is disappointingly short, taking just a little over two hours to see through and ending somewhat abruptly. Completionists may find some extra time in getting all trophies/replaying on harder difficulties, however for the casual gamer, it’s somewhat dissatisfying, especially considering the $22 price point. If you are craving just a few more precious hours with Ellie though, it’s a wonderful insight as to her character and how she came to be. Though given the asking price, it might be worth holding off a little while longer.
Review by Ray Standen