Strategies for surviving The Last of Us

By Andrew Yoon, Jun 05, 2013 8:15am PDT

I died over 75 times playing The Last of Us on Hard difficulty. You don't have to suffer the same fate! After playing through the campaign, here are some helpful hints that should give you the edge.

Obviously...

Use Listen Mode. It will help you detect enemies and give you the upper hand in a battle. Also, don't rush into battle. Stealth is generally the better approach. And make sure you scavenge the environment. You won't be able to craft as many items, or upgrade your weapons, or level up Joel without the goodies hidden in the environment. Perhaps the most valuable items you'll find are training manuals. These will help you upgrade your crafted items. For example, finding the manual on "knots" will allow you to enhance your melee weapon to withstand two lethal hits instead of just one.

Always carry a brick or bottle

You are only allowed to carry one of these items in your inventory. And while they may seem common in most areas you visit, make sure you always have one on hand. You don't want to be caught in a situation where having one would've been useful--only to find that the area you are in is squeaky clean. These items will come in handy when you need the upper hand in melee combat. However, they are most useful when thrown at enemies. If you find yourself in a situation where you'll be spotted by a human opponent, throw the item with R1 and then run and press triangle to grab the enemy while he's stunned. When dealing with multiple Infected (especially powerful Clickers and Bloaters), it may behoove you to manually aim and throw a bottle at an area, have them cluster together, and then throw a Molotov cocktail. This way, you can maximize the number of enemies you damage with a single item.

Create Molotov cocktails, not health kits

Rather deviously, both health kits and Molotov cocktails are crafted using the same items. I'd recommend very rarely creating health kits or healing. Why? If you find yourself limping through a scenario, it might be better simply to die and/or restart the checkpoint. You can do so easily from the Start menu, and there's often no loading involved with restarting. You'll also discover that your health regenerates between certain chapter breaks, so stockpile and use as many Molotovs as you can. Bloaters are especially weak to Molotovs--some of them can die after getting hit by just one.

Upgrade Listen Mode and shiv abilities first

You'll find pills hidden in the environment that will let you upgrade Joel's abilities. While it may be tempting to increase his health, the most valuable upgrades are Listen Mode and the shiv abilities. As explained earlier, if you're struggling through an encounter, it's better simply to restart. Health should be the least of your worries. Instead, upgrade the abilities that will prevent you from losing health in the first place.

Always have a shiv crafted

Shivs can be used to silently take down Clickers and can also be used defensively if you've unlocked the "shiv master" upgrade for Joel. However, the main reason why you'll want to have a shiv on-hand: some doors can only be unlocked with one. These locked doors usually hide valuable gear and pills for upgrades. If your inventory only has one shiv, don't waste it in combat. You may regret not being able to unlock one of these bonus doors.

Master the bow & arrow

This is probably the most important weapon in your arsenal. When used properly, the bow is a silent weapon. If you get a clean headshot, you'll also be able to retrieve the arrow from the body, meaning you won't have to worry as much about ammo. It can be a bit tricky to aim, although upgrading the bow with parts will certainly make it easier.

Focus your weapon upgrades

Even if you scavenge the environment perfectly, you still won't have enough parts to upgrade all of your weapons. Instead, focus on the ones that you'll use the most. I found myself relying on the shotgun for its close-range power and the rifle for its long-range accuracy. By game's end, you'll probably be able to upgrade three weapons to their maximum.

Run away

If you can break line of sight of any pursuers, there's a good chance you'll be able to regroup and gain the upper hand yet again. If you're ever spotted or feel overwhelmed by a certain scenario, run away and hide somewhere. It's effective, even against the Infected--so long as you run far away enough.

Play single-player before multiplayer

All of the above tips apply to both single and multiplayer, a testament to how well Naughty Dog has translated the campaign into a competitive setting. However, you'll definitely want to get used to how gunplay works in single-player before jumping online. There's definitely a learning curve, especially if you're used to other third-person shooters.

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