The Last of Us: Left Behind (and why it's totally pointless) SPOILERS!!!

So, on this, our day of Valentine, we are presented story DLC for The Last of Us. Ellie returns, and we get to see what she was up to before her backpacking trip with Joel. No father/daughter bonding this time. Instead we get introduced to her former gal bud Riley, and follow them as they go for one last night on the town.

From a narrative standpoint The Last of Us was pretty much perfect in what it set out to do; It established Joel and Ellie's relationship over the course of the game as it grows from insufferable to inseperable. And ended with a dubious thump, the ripples of which would linger in your mind for atleast the next couple of days.

Any attempt to revisit these characters with a different relationship focus would therefore need to be handled with great care... or should just be left well enough alone.

Anyway, if the title didn't already give it away, I played it and I didn't like it. It starts off okay, and has a few neat moments and fun nods to the main game. But ultimately it's filling in blanks that were best left to the imagination, and pulls a few bonehead attempts at drama.

The game splits itself into two sections; The first one is Ellie and Riley hanging out and yucking it up in the ruins of a shopping mall. The second is Ellie during Winter finding suture materials for the recently impaled Joel in another shopping mall, this time in Colorado. Yep, that's right, we get to see what happens inbetween Joel tumbling off Callus, and Ellie murdering that fluffy bunny. And it's nothing more but an excuse to include some rather meaningless action. The real meat is in the Ellie/Riley section, since it has actual narrative. Unfortunately there's really not much to chew on in that regard either.

The main game prided itself on the character bonding and it had ample time to do so. Two hours or so (nearly half of which is spent in Winter) to build a relationship from scratch is bound to fail, even with our connection to Ellie. You see, the few times Ellie mentions Riley in the main game made me feel more of a connection between them then actually seeing them together. I'd grown to care for Ellie by that point, and if she says she had a close friend I'll take her word for it and let my imagination fill in the blanks. By seeing them together hot off the heels of the main game, Riley just comes across as an invader. It gets even worse though when Ellie reveals herself to being sorta kinda in love with Riley, having Ellie steal a kiss in the heat of the moment. This to me, beyond the typical "awesome girl + lesbian = more awesome girl", smacked of desperation from Naughty Dog's end by forcing an emotional bond between Ellie and Riley that the DLC obviously didn't have time enough to let grow naturally. Now the arguement could be made that Ellie being a confused teenager simply mistook the fear of being abandoned with feelings of infatuation, but in this particular case I fear Naughty Dog went for some new and interesting reveal and stumbled in the process. So now we know why this got released on February 14.

Beyond that, we don't even get to see Riley's death scene, which was really the expected pay-off right from the start; Getting to see that moment where Riley dies and Ellie is Left Behind. It then ends with some sappy monologe about surviving just to spent one more day with the people you care about, going completely against the very dour message of the main game. Though maybe that was the point. It feel flat on its ass for me though.

I got more to say on the matter, but this post is already getting too long, so for now I pass the mic to you; What did you think?

My favourite bit in Last of Us main campaign was I get to play as Ellie because I didn't like Joel at all (grumpy and gritty old man, so original.) So this is just more of what I like. I get to see Ellie back when she was a bit younger and had fun exploring the mall.

It was a bit pointless, but the main campaign's story was pointless too when you think about it.

Sack of Cheese:
It was a bit pointless, but the main campaign's story was pointless too when you think about it.

The point of the main game was seeing Joel and Ellie's relationship develop, and it pulled that off with flying colors. Here it's just 'Look, there's Riley...*shrugs*'

And then we have the Winter tidbits with Ellie doing Tomb Raider nonsense, jumping onto a helicopter wreck from conveniently angular debris.

Casual Shinji:
The point of the main game was seeing Joel and Ellie's relationship develop, and it pulled that off with flying colors. Here it's just 'Look, there's Riley...*shrugs*'

And then we have the Winter tidbits with Ellie doing Tomb Raider nonsense, jumping onto a helicopter wreck from conveniently angular debris.

I thought the relationship in the main game didn't have enough time to develop. I played Walking Dead prior to Last of us and it was just superior in character interaction in my opinion. That's why Joel's action at the end just seemed very forced to me.

I reckon the DLC just expands on Ellie's past, just like how the first 30 minutes of the main game told us about Joel's.

Sack of Cheese:
I thought the relationship in the main game didn't have enough time to develop. I played Walking Dead prior to Last of us and it was just superior in character interaction in my opinion. That's why Joel's action at the end just seemed very forced to me.

I reckon the DLC just expands on Ellie's past, just like how the first 30 minutes of the main game told us about Joel's.

It's all subjective ofcourse how you feel about the relationship of the main game. But this DLC is following in its footsteps, creating certain expectations, but not doing much except show us Ellie had a friend and they both got bit. Which we already knew. In the main game Joel's past serves as a set-up and an insight to his character. With the DLC we don't get any emotional paydirt or insight, except that Ellie apparently had a crush on Riley. Which contridicts how she spoke of her in the main game. I'd also think that if she had real feelings for Riley, her death would've impacted her more than it would appear in the main game. Where she just spoke of her as a friend. A good friend, but just a friend.

And the fact that Facebook managed to infect this game too just fucking ticked me off as well.

Watched my friend play through it. I don't really get why the game switches timelines. I guess gameplay reasons to give the player more action or something. It kinda makes me wonder how many of these hunters there are and when they would figure it's just not worth the risk sending an army of these guys to get killed by a little girl.

I had some chuckle at the Halloween store. Water gun boss fight was something I guess (not sure what). For some reason, Ellie's crush didn't seem like a big revelation to me, which is not to say I was expecting it or anything. Just, yeah, I dunno. I guess the whole point of the DLC was to reinforce the idea that Ellie considered Riley a friend, which we already knew from the campaign, and that Ellie is a badass that can kill a dozen men, and to have scenarios with both infected and hunters, which should have been in the main game.

Arslan Aladeen:
Watched my friend play through it. I don't really get why the game switches timelines. I guess gameplay reasons to give the player more action or something. It kinda makes me wonder how many of these hunters there are and when they would figure it's just not worth the risk sending an army of these guys to get killed by a little girl.

It's also highly suggested in the main game that David and James are probably the first people Ellie encountered since the university. And that her leading David's men away from Joel was the first time she was pitted against bandits by herself.

I had some chuckle at the Halloween store. Water gun boss fight was something I guess (not sure what). For some reason, Ellie's crush didn't seem like a big revelation to me, which is not to say I was expecting it or anything. Just, yeah, I dunno. I guess the whole point of the DLC was to reinforce the idea that Ellie considered Riley a friend, which we already knew from the campaign, and that Ellie is a badass that can kill a dozen men, and to have scenarios with both infected and hunters, which should have been in the main game.

I don't know. The infected vs. hunters sounds good on paper, but within the game it just felt like a bunch of noise with no real impact. It also made some of the A.I. problems that much more apparent. Where it just felt like two teams of mindless drones facing off against eachother. I'd much rather have the tense stealth action where I take on the enemies myself. That way my intelligence can atleast seep into the encounters.

Casual Shinji:

I don't know. The infected vs. hunters sounds good on paper, but within the game it just felt like a bunch of noise with no real impact. It also made some of the A.I. problems that much more apparent. Where it just felt like two teams of mindless drones facing off against eachother. I'd much rather have the tense stealth action where I take on the enemies myself. That way my intelligence can atleast seep into the encounters.

I guess thats where we differ. Most of my problems in Last Of Us stemmed from playing the game stealthy. The more I stealthed, the more problems came up, such as the AI, so I would welcome something to switch up the gameplay.

As far as the DLC, I just have this wishy washy, I don't know what to think of it feeling. It sorta feels like "Hey we're Naughty Dog, we're great writers, and we're putting out this extra story DLC cause every game has that and ours will be great cause we're Naughty Dog." Am I making any sense? I should probably just go to sleep and let better ones than me discuss this.

Arslan Aladeen:
As far as the DLC, I just have this wishy washy, I don't know what to think of it feeling. It sorta feels like "Hey we're Naughty Dog, we're great writers, and we're putting out this extra story DLC cause every game has that and ours will be great cause we're Naughty Dog." Am I making any sense? I should probably just go to sleep and let better ones than me discuss this.

That's because it features the same characters (one of them anyway), but isn't part of the actual game or story. So it exists in this separate vortex. Now that I think about it, it actually reminds me a lot of Separate Ways from Resident Evil 4. Where apparently Ada was right there in that intro village conflict, you just couldn't see her. And that Krauser wasn't dead at all after the fight with Leon, and now Ada has to kill him on this 6x6 plateau. Yeah no, fuck you game, that didn't happen.

Casual Shinji:
Now that I think about it, it actually reminds me a lot of Separate Ways from Resident Evil 4. Where apparently Ada was right there in that intro village conflict, you just couldn't see her. And that Krauser wasn't dead at all after the fight with Leon, and now Ada has to kill him on this 6x6 plateau. Yeah no, fuck you game, that didn't happen.

Wasn't Separate Ways hamfisted into the PS2 version? I can't remember that being in the original GC release(though Assignment Ada was, which was fun and much more subdued). It was crap for sure. I always have this lingering feeling they just scrapped something together from the editing floor. Just like 99% of DLC is an afterthought and never really that good. Your view on The Last of Us DLC don't sound like the exception to the rule. :p

stroopwafel:
Wasn't Separate Ways hamfisted into the PS2 version? I can't remember that being in the original GC release(though Assignment Ada was, which was fun and much more subdued). It was crap for sure. I always have this lingering feeling they just scrapped something together from the editing floor. Just like 99% of DLC is an afterthought and never really that good. Your view on The Last of Us DLC don't sound like the exception to the rule. :p

Yeah it wasn't on the Gamecube. The first time I actually played it was on the HD version, and I was shocked by how terrible it was.

I thought the entire point of Left Behind was to just give us a visual representation of Ellie's background story. I mean we all knew how the DLC was going to end since Ellie used the "lose our minds together" phrase in the main game. I agree it was kinda disappointing not to get to see that happening since Ellie's reaction could really have held some emotional weight there especially after that whole kissing thing went down.

And even though i'd wish that they could've cut Winter Ellie out to make way for more Ellie and Riley shenanigans i still wouldn't call it a waste of time or money. I quite enjoyed playing the DLC if only to play around with Ellie some more, and Riley was a pretty cool character as well. The two had some great moments together and i'm glad to have gotten that window into their relationship.

Also there's more puns in the DLC.

I found that the DLC helped to reinforce Joel's decision at the end of the main game.
Riley made the same decision as Joel, she didn't want to sacrifice what she had (her time with Ellie, no matter how fleeting it would be) just for some off-chance that it might benefit someone else. There are a "million" ways anyone can die in this post-apocalypse: crumbling infrastructure, roving bands of raiders, lack of resources, your standard zombie attack and possible infection. Having just two fewer zombies isn't likely to make much of difference for anyone, just as getting rid of infection entirely with Ellie will still leave you with many threats left, including still being eaten by zombies. Riley drives the point home further with her rejection of the Fireflies in favor of staying with Ellie pre-bite, not willing to give up what she loves for some (supposedly) higher cause.
This also can clear up if Ellie can forgive Joel for his decision, if she really believed in Riley's idea of fighting for "every second we get to spend with each other", then Ellie must understand what Joel did and forgive him.

Having finished it today, I can say it was an all around decent bit of DLC. I saw that the reviewer over at Kotaku thought it was simply perfect in every way, can't say I agree. As with most little DLC side stories, it felt pointless as you said in the title. Which is fine, I don't mind getting bits of games I enjoyed, even though I wasn't the biggest fan of Last of Us to begin with.

I think I had the most fun with the sections that felt different than the regular Last of Us experience. I won't say what, but anyone who played it would know what I'm talking about.

So if everyone loved The Last of Us and I hated it, does that mean the fact that most people seemed unimpressed with the DLC will mean I'll enjoy it?

00slash00:
So if everyone loved The Last of Us and I hated it, does that mean the fact that most people seemed unimpressed with the DLC will mean I'll enjoy it?

It's mostly more of the same, I found the main game to be just a decent experience, I feel the same way about the DLC. If you hated it, you certainly won't like having a little extra to play via Left Behind.

I only played the DLC since my sister loved the game and payed for it.

Ummm... EH. I disagree. I don't think it was pointless and I was able to immediately connect and fall in love with this new character the same if this was a film. It was expertly told and makes the end of TLoU all the more powerful. So yeah, I'm that fanboy... SHIT.

The relationship between Elli and Riley is better explained in the graphic novel "The last of us: American Dreams," in which we see how they first met and what they went through 4+ months prior to left behind. It's a darn good read and gives a bit more depth to the story and to their relationship.

I'm afraid I fall into the camp of unimpressed. I don't know what it was, but this DLC's level of writing just didn't feel up to the standard of the rest of the game. Maybe it was because I already knew what was going to happen, so the sense of suspense was gone. Maybe it was because, to me, the story ended right where it should have started. It was nice seeing these two girls as friends, but I wanted to see Riley turn. I wanted to see how that would hurt Ellie once she realized that she was immune and thus she'd be left behind--again. I wanted to see her freak out first, and then sneak her way to the Fireflies. Or I wanted to see her training in the camp. I just felt that the section they chose to focus on in the past was a waste. We already knew that Riley was doomed. I wanted to see how Ellie survived after Riley turned. Did she kill her, or did she just run away and leave her?

The present story was okay I guess. It was nice seeing how Ellie was able to survive without Joel for the time being, but man can those Hunters hold a grudge. How long were they chasing them for?
I did love the fact that you could make the Infected and the Hunters fight each other. That should have been included in the main game in my opinion.

They managed to stick a fighting game (QTE heavy, admittedly) in The Last of Us without it being out of place. Well played, Left Behind.

Whether the DLC's story had a profound effect on the main arc or not there were some really nice twists on the gameplay.

Brick Master, supersoaker Skillz, the aforementioned 20 years dead arcade machine, using existing mechanics for whole new purposes or straight up adding new ones for 5 minutes.

I was disappointed with the "pretty amazing feature" the devs wanted to access my Facebook for. The whole thing with the photobooth was really nice and the in game Facebook upload attempt was cute but I was expecting more than just posting said pics on my timeline. From the prominent display of "Wilson's" portrait and a ruined portrait gallery in the mall I thought maybe they game was supposed to be importing friends profile pictures to stick in the frames, with a bit of a filter to make them look like they belonged. I actually assumed my game had glitched resulting all the generic pictures on show. That would have fit in with the friendship themes nicely, though some of my friends have weird ass profile pics.

I enjoyed the story, but the reinterpretation of established elements was most refreshing.

 

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