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The Last of Us Part II Remastered Feature Opinion Op-Ed HBO Series

HBO’s Adaptation Can Fix The Worst Part About The Last Of Us Part II

by Wesley LeBlanc on Jan 16, 2024 at 09:00 AM

The Last of Us Part II Remastered hits PlayStation 5 exclusively on Friday, January 19. I recently played through its story, my first of the remastered version but my third time overall. Or rather, I watched my wife, a first-time player unspoiled of its events, play through it – I interviewed her about it, and you can read those impressions here. But I experienced The Last of Us Part II’s story once more nonetheless. Big surprise: I really loved it, just like I did in 2020. I might like it even more now today, to be honest.

The last of us part ii remastered impressions first-time player 2024 roguelike no return survival

Spoilers for The Last of Us Part II

However, one of my biggest criticisms of the game in 2020 stands out even more in 2024: the Rattlers, specifically, those last two or three hours of the game. It's clear why this part of the game exists. Despite the "happy" ending Ellie seemingly achieved – with a great partner, a child to take care of (satisfying  Ellie's Joel-like need to be the protector of something), and the dream house Joel always wanted for them – Ellie wasn't happy. She still had PTSD, playing back Joel's final moments in her head while knowing the person responsible is still alive. 

It ate and ate at her, and when Tommy arrived with a clue about Abby's whereabouts, Ellie couldn't stop herself despite her best efforts and those of Dina, who pleaded that she stay. So, she trekked to California to track down Joel's killer. Meanwhile, Abby and Lev, chipper and excited about their new life, are busy following whispers of a group of Fireflies in the state. Abby, despite the trauma of her dad dying and what killing Joel did to her psyche, has seemingly achieved the kind of happiness we all want Ellie to find, too. By this point in the game, you've come full circle on Abby, better understanding why she killed the beloved protagonist of The Last of Us Part I and what she did to atone for it. You're rooting for her and Lev and their journey to find some Fireflies while begging Ellie not to give chase. 

The last of us part ii remastered impressions first-time player 2024 roguelike no return survival

I'm entirely on board with this narrative setup, even though it's another two to three hours of game on top of an already exhausting journey. But then The Last of Us Part II introduces the Rattlers, another survivor group who does…things? I don't know; I think they capture people and torture them and also do some weird stuff with the infected. The Rattlers are barebones and feel thrown in to give players enemies to shoot at. In a game where survivor groups are set up to be significant players in the story, be it Fireflies or Seraphites or WLF, tossing the Rattlers in right as the game's ending and ultimately doing little with them feels like a waste. 

There are some interesting ideas about the Rattlers, specifically how they treat and use infected. They're different from the other survivor groups, leaning more into a Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club vibe. It could be interesting, but it is never capitalized on.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered Feature Opinion Op-Ed HBO Series

They're just there to shoot at you so you have something to fire back at. The primary purpose of the game's final hours is to get you to the climactic fight between Abby and Ellie on the beach, with both characters exhausted, malnourished, and ultimately, at their worst. Take out the Rattlers and you have probably 20 minutes of walking and then said fight on the beach. I'm not sure that would've worked either – we need these characters at their lowest here – but introducing the Rattlers doesn't. 

The Last of Us Part II Remastered Feature Opinion Op-Ed HBO Series

HBO's The Last of Us could fix this issue, which happens to be the worst part of The Last of Us Part II. I'm pretty vocal about how I want the show to tackle Part II – it should play out identically to the game's structure. I think Season 2 should cover Joel's death and Ellie's subsequent pursuit of Abby until the game's cliffhanger moment here. The final scene should be the memory of Abby with her dad, revealing to us all why Abby killed Joel before the season's close. That would give us the time between Season 2 and the next to sit with the fact that Abby had good reason to do what she did. A third season should start with Abby waking up at the stadium and follow her events from the game with Yara, Lev, the WLF, and the Seraphites – it should come to a close at the farmhouse, making us think it's the end. 

A fourth season – I know three seasons for one game is a lot, but my biggest critique of the show is how it rushes through many of the first game's moments – should pick up with Tommy at the farmhouse, convincing Ellie to go after Abby one more time. But, this time, the writers should greatly expand on the Rattlers as a survivor group, making us view them as a threat akin to the Fireflies, WLF, or Seraphites. This would eliminate the randomness of the Rattlers in the game's final hours, giving us a reason to watch our characters deal with them. Or, perhaps the writers who get paid a lot of money to write (hopefully) really good television come up with a completely different but better idea to get Abby and Ellie fighting on a beach for the finale. 

The Last of Us Part II Remastered Feature Opinion Op-Ed HBO Series

None of what The Last of Us Part II attempts to do narratively works without that final fight on the beach and the last scene with Joel. But that half-hour isn't strengthened by the moments with the Rattlers preceding it – they simply serve to set up the ending, which remains powerful in spite of them. I can't help but imagine, though, if everything in California leading up to that ending was just as powerful, just as impactful, and just as critical to the narrative. Would the ending be that much better, that much more harrowing, that much more bittersweet? It's an answer I don't have because the game doesn't provide it, but HBO has the opportunity to do just that, and I hope it rises to the occasion.

For more about the game, read some impressions of The Last of Us Part II's story from a first-time player in 2024, and then check out this New Gameplay Today about the remastered game's roguelite No Return mode. After that, check out this New Gameplay Today about The Last of Us Part II Remastered's Lost Levels. 

How do you hope HBO tackles The Last of Us Part II? Let us know in the comments below!

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