Tips For Playing The Last Of Us

Naughty Dog's much-anticipated action/horror game The Last of Us is fairly straightforward: Keep moving and try not to die. But between the various upgrade trees, the open-ended combat and the crafting system, we thought it would be helpful to offer some tips.

So, here are some tips for playing The Last of Us. These tips do not contain any major story spoilers.

Try it on hard difficulty.

The emphasis here is on "try". This game is really good on its higher difficulty setting, and you'll have to play it very differently than if you play it on normal. That said, normal isn't exactly easy -- it'll test your skills in plenty of places. But for the most intense experience, I recommend playing on hard. Furthermore, you can't play New Game Plus on a higher difficulty than you finished with, and New Game Plus makes normal difficulty waaay too easy. And if you find hard to be too challenging, you can always drop it down to normal if you get stuck.

Don't get frustrated on the first major infected encounter.

The first time you take on a group of the infected, you're probably going to get hosed. A lot. That's because this game throws you into a room with a bunch of runners (who can see) and one clicker (who is tough to kill and will take you out in a single hit). I loved that the game did this, but only in retrospect -- it's maddening, terrifying and difficult in the heat of the moment. If you got stuck there, take heart -- that was pretty much the idea. Just keep moving, and don't try to fight the zombies all at once like in a different zombie game. You can outrun all of them, and if you don't get yourself cornered, take them out one at a time. Once they're all gone, you can take down the clicker.

Don't fight enemies head-on. If you get spotted, run.

This ties into that last one, and it applies to both human and infected encounters. (You can see some of this in action in the demo video I posted today.) In past games, including Naughty Dog's Uncharted games, once the enemies spot you, the jig is up. Not so with The Last of Us. The enemy AI is really good, and by really good I mean, it's possible to fool them and they'll react in surprising and realistic ways. If you get spotted, quickly run and hide, and keep circling and moving. The levels are huge for a reason. Motion and stealth are your biggest advantages -- use them.

Don't rely only on autosave.

As we saw upon the game's launch, there was an autosave bug that cost some players a lot of progress. Sony says that Naughty Dog has fixed the problem, but all the same, it's probably a good idea to manually save your progress from time to time.

Leave no stone unturned.

It's tempting to run through the story, but if you see an open room off your path, chances are it contains something useful. In addition to useful tools and parts, you'll also find conversation-pieces for Joel and Ellie. Some of the game's best little stories are told while rummaging through rooms.

Take all you can carry.

It's generally wise to leave yourself with enough parts to craft one health kit/molotov and one shiv/melee upgrade. But if you wind up with too many of a given crafting object, make sure you're carrying the maximum number of items (3) and if you're not, craft one more and pick up the spare part. Do everything you can to avoid leaving crafting materials lying around.

Save your shivs.

Shivs are probably the single most useful item in the whole game. You can use them to take down enemies silently and quickly, but you never should. Instead, save shivs for use on unaware clickers. That's partly because even as your shivs get more durable, there are rooms that you'll have to sacrifice an entire shiv to open. You should always do so, as those rooms will contain enough parts and materials that it's always worth it. But you never want to be without a shiv.

Don't waste blades upgrading your melee weapons.

It's not worth it to upgrade your melee weapons by using an entire set of blades. Save your blades for shivs. There are enough melee weapons lying around that you'll almost always find a new one when yours breaks, and it's not worth sacrificing a blade for the extra one or two hits your weapon will get.

Crack all the safes.

At various points throughout the game, Joel will come upon a locked safe. The combination for that safe is always located somewhere nearby, and every safe is worth opening. There's one in a hotel in Pittsburgh that's particularly worth getting, as it has an incredibly valuable upgrade manual. Be creative and examine every bit of the room you're currently in. The Last of Us doesn't allow for much backtracking, so you'll always find the combination on a document somewhere in your immediate vicinity.

Upgrade health and listening distance first, then weapon aim.

The first thing you should upgrade of Joel's is his health. Then, listening distance. Save your upgrade pills, though, as some of the abilities -- faster healing, faster crafting -- are mostly useless. Also, the single-save against clickers is nice, but it wastes shivs like crazy and I found that I almost preferred to just keep the damned clickers away from me in the first place.

Improve your holsters first.

As you collect parts, you'll be able to upgrade your weapons and gear on workbenches. Before you upgrade your weapons, save up and upgrade both your long-gun and pistol holsters. That'll make it possible for you to quick-select two of each weapon, and make it much easier to survive without having to rummage around in your backpack.

Choose your other weapon upgrades wisely.

You won't be able to craft all of the weapon upgrades in the game, or anything close to it. So you'll want to choose your upgrades wisely. The next best thing to upgrade is the hunting rifle -- add a scope and increase its weapon capacity. Past that, it's smart to focus more on clip capacity than reload speed, and don't worry too much about fire-rate and range. Any weapon that can only hold one bullet should be quickly upgraded to hold at least two. Those weapons are powerful, but if you miss, you want to have a backup round ready to go.

Let sleeping clickers lie.

At several points in the game, you'll make your way through a room or a building filled with infected who are "asleep." They're not moving and can't see you, and won't react unless you make a lot of noise. If you're careful, you can get through those areas without alerting them to your presence, and can even grab all the loot around them. There's no real reward for killing zombies, so save your ammo and materials and just sneak around them.

Save ammo whenever possible.

Ammo is scarce in The Last of Us. Super scarce. As a result, you'll want to save it. The best way to do that is…

Try everything in your inventory.

This isn't a game where you should pick one or two favourite weapons and just stick to them. Nearly everything in your weapon inventory, from smoke bombs, to nail traps to different types of guns, is useful. Try them out in various encounters. Only the revolver seems redundant. Everything else has a good use against at least one of the enemy types in the game.

Bricks are your friend.

The brick is the easiest weapon to forget to use, but it's also one of the most useful. That's partly because it can be used to take down an unaware clicker or dude, and partly because there are so many cinderblocks lying around that you'll never "run out" in the way you'll run out of other things. Save your lead pipe for extreme situations where you're mobbed, and use the brick whenever you can.

Don't read anything else about this game.

Really! OK, so you read our tips article. But this game is best experienced completely cold. Just go in, play it, and learn it. Some of the lessons it teaches are harsh. But they're fun to learn on your own. And you definitely want to go in knowing as little about the story as possible.

Enjoy the game and remember: When the clickers come at you, there's no shame in running the other way.


    Aggree with most of it.
    Although for me adding blades to melee weapons really does come in handy. If I get myself stuck with the enemy flanking ( which they do VERY well ) if someone sneaks up on my I stick a baseball bat w/nails into their skull and they are out of the way in 1 hit and I am back in cover :)

    Also with the sleeping clickers, I prefer to use my bow to take them out with a head shot then reclaim my arrow. Inspired by Daryl Dickson!

    Look forward to playing through on Hard. Kinda wish I started on Hard :(

    Last edited 15/06/13 5:54 pm

      Was going to make this comment, once you get the two hit upgrades for melee weapons, there's nothing like being able to clock something running at you with a one hit kill.

      I definitly agree on the upgrades, I stupidly put all my points into Shiv Master... and never actually needed to use it from that point!

    try not to die

    Shit, I should try that in more games!

    That infected encounter early on (with the runners and the single clicker) isn't really so bad. The first runner is the easiest takedown; for the next one wait until he patrols to the others, and then enter the offices on your left - if you wait behind a desk in there you can take him down well out of sight of the others. Then the final two runners are a bit tricky but if you watch their movements enough you can pick your moment and take care of them as well. After that it's a home-run: you just shiv the clicker and all's right with the post-apocalyptic world :P

    Can't stress enough the importance of:
    a) collecting everything from every location you pass.
    and b) when in combat with bandits, jump in and out of stealth like a restless behemoth that simply cannot stop moving.

    Oh, and when fighting particularly large groups of infected you can toss a brick/bottle into a neutral-distance location, and then light them all up with a molotov. I always kept 1-2 medpacks on me at all times, crafting molotovs when I had excess. If you collect everything you encounter it's easy enough :-)
    Also surprised you don't mention the bow and arrow. If you can get good with that, it makes dealing with idle clickers and unaware bandits a lot easier than simply upgrading the hunting rifle off the bat. If you can get good with it, that is. Plus if you're scoring well-placed headshots you'll find it difficult to run out of ammo. :P

    Last edited 15/06/13 6:46 pm

    Don't play the game on an older fat PS3, they have overheating problems with this game, as I am finding out :( they have heat problems in general but my loyal 6yo 60gb fat which has had no problems throughout its life has overheated twice today after a few hours of play.

      I had an instant shutdown early on, but no problems since even with much longer sessions. (And lots of mp)

        Have since had 2 more shut downs instantly after loading into the game after doing a vent clean

          I noticed there was a chapter that REALLY strained my PS3 and that was the mission where you get split from Ellie and Tess and there is a lot of water through the ruined building from rain.

          If I spent too long there or saved and loaded a game mid chapter it would get really upset and crash often.

          I am more surprised that she has lasted so long being a gen 1 ps3. These past few summers have been quite hard on her.

            Yeah they were tough old birds, mine finally packed it in once and for all a few months later, I never did get to finish the game, luckily I got a ps4 so waiting in the remake

      I'm playing this on my old 40gb "fat" console and have no issues!

      my console occasionally does the high fan speed thing but it usually goes away if I create some ventilation.

    Can't wait to sink my teeth into this vidya game!

    Ya word of advice start on hard if not normal better end game bonuses AND easy is stupid i messed up with the difficaulty and i over played it wanting all cool stuff but now i have to go back ...

    Sooo why should i start the game on hard instead of easy??

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