Gaming

The Last of Us Part II review: An aftermath of ruthlessness

One man’s decision led to a world descending into chaos

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The ending of The Last of Us put me in a position to play out a decision on the fate of humanity. It’s a decision that Joel, one of the main protagonists, made because he felt it was the right one. If you haven’t played nor finished the game, spoiler alert: he saves a young Ellie from life-altering surgery but leaves dead bodies in the process.

The cover art for The Last of Us Remastered featuring Joel and young Ellie

Naughty Dog had its critically-acclaimed masterpiece, a crowning moment of compelling storytelling mixed with awesome gameplay. Surviving a world filled with mostly Infected people kept the action going on all cylinders. The question I had after finishing that game almost a year ago was simple: what’s next?

I came into playing The Last of Us Part II with all the mental preparation possible. Of course, I needed to remember how the prequel felt from all angles. At some point, I felt like I also needed to jog my memory of all the characters again. I was ready to dive back into blowing up heads and getting into another Infected hellhole.

Except, it’s much deeper than an ordinary survival game.

In my preview of the game, I mentioned that this time around, you play as Ellie. You remember her, that little girl who was immune to the infection? In this game, she’s all grown up — at least, past the legal age, and resides in Jackson, Wyoming. This comes nearly five years after the events of the prequel’s ending.

A deep and horrific tragedy strikes Ellie during her days in Jackson, which prompts her to plunge back into post-apocalyptic America with revenge on her mind. She ventures into Seattle, going through any length or depth to achieve it. It’s your typical “revenge story” but it gets dark pretty quick.

It’s a story that heavily references scenes from the prequel while detailing the immediate fallout. It’s something that long time fans of The Last of Us will immensely appreciate if they got through it. There are moments in the story that offer light-hearted moments, or sometimes even just moments to rest. But the game doesn’t break away one bit from the gruesome realities Ellie has to deal with.

Improvement in gameplay was in emphasizing on the underused

The Last of Us Part II didn’t change much in terms of core gameplay mechanics; rather, they improved on these to make sense. Since you’re playing a much younger character, you will naturally move faster, and access higher places with relative ease. Naughty Dog made it all make sense, as Ellie can climb, swim, jump between platforms, and swing on rope-like objects.

Sometimes, it’s better to hide from your enemies first before taking them out, one by one.

But the biggest thing they’ve improved on was an increased emphasis in the stealth mechanic. The prequel had you running up to your enemies guns ablazing as the preferred mode of combat, with stealth as just a mere option if you’re too scared. This time, with more dangerous enemies coming your way, it’s best to keep hiding.

This isn’t a stealth mechanic that hinges entirely on hiding, however. It’s a combat tactic that allows you to outsmart your opponents every chance you get. Plus, Listen Mode makes a return in the sequel, with much improved range to show you enemy activity. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to fight a mixed bag of human enemies and Infected in one go — especially since… 

Your enemies are either smarter and more elusive, or deadlier

Ellie coming face-to-face with a Seraphite, a faction that focuses more on elusive strategies

You will come across two human factions, both with their own set of beliefs on mankind’s survival against the Infected. Both these groups have their own combat styles and strategies to hunt you down. It’s really up to you on how to approach the members of these groups, although I personally enjoyed popping off on all of them.

Ellie encounters the Wolves, a group of former Fireflies that often attack in small units

Your human enemies are now smarter in that sense; more often than not, they take you on in groups and chip away at your health fast. Some of your enemies even start attacks through signals and even use attack dogs to smell you out. It truly adds a whole new dynamic that will have you thinking on your feet.

The Infected still roam free, but time has made them more aggressive. You still get your usual amount of Runners and Clickers, but your approach towards them differs entirely on their volume. 

Your first encounter with the Shambler, an enhanced Bloater with toxic waste

Meanwhile, Stalkers are still sinister in approach, and chip away more health when attacking. The game even introduces a new type of Infected in the Shambler, a more dangerous Bloater that spews out toxic waste. The Last of Us experience wouldn’t be complete without it, honestly but that wasn’t the main focus.

All of this, and what’s it all for?

Beneath the fantastic gameplay, rich scenery, and the dangers of the world around her, Ellie comes face-to-face with her innate desire for revenge. This, above all else becomes the focal point of the entire game. In her mind, survival wasn’t enough; someone had to pay for what happened.

The sequel improves on the core gameplay by simply favoring one over the other. The dangers of a post-apocalyptic world will have you fighting for your life once you’ve placed yourself in it. Once you’re in the fight, flight is no longer an option. As time rolls on, you’ll encounter smarter and deadlier enemies, and your approach matters.

Ellie embarks on her most dangerous adventure through stormy Seattle

And yet behind the facade of a quiet yet destroyed world lies a story of hatred, obsession, and revenge. It’s a story that will remind you of just how far one is willing to go to serve a cold dish of it. But no act of revenge will reverse the tragedies; no amount of killing will reverse right or wrongdoings in the past.

The Last of Us Part II was an exercise in ruthlessness and shows no mercy for its audience. It’s not afraid to go beyond the realm of morality and logic, just to prove a point. When it gets right down to it, it seeks to remind us of how one decision changes everything.

Ellie’s journey for revenge begins on June 19, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.

Gaming

Call of Duty announces a new anti-cheat system, Ricochet

Will this solve all the rampant cheating in game?

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Picture this: you just finished up a good amount of work for the day and you just wanna play video games. Specifically, you boot up your PC or console and play some good ol’ fashioned Call of Duty: Warzone. All of a sudden, even playing this game isn’t enjoyable because of all the cheaters in your server. It’s not fun, but the developers of Call of Duty have a solution for that with their new anti-cheat system, Ricochet.

Basically, Ricochet will serve as the game’s way of tracking and investigating any and all kinds of cheating activity taking place on the server. Apart from this, the anti-cheat system allows for tighter account security especially when playing on your PC. With a dedicated PC kernel driver, the system will assist users in identifying cheaters and cheating software present in their systems.

In terms of rollout, Ricochet will be available on Call of Duty: Warzone later in the year. Meanwhile, the anti-cheat will make its way to Call of Duty: Vanguard at a much later date.

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Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review

Should you upgrade?

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Michael Josh might have forgotten to pre-order the newest Nintendo Switch OLED, but that doesn’t stop him from lining up to the nearest Nintendo Store in New York.

After hours of waiting and shopping spree, he finally ordered not one, but two on the line!

Other than the classic red and blue Switch, there’s also a new white version available.

But should you upgrade? Or do you just need to keep your existing Nintendo Switch for now?

Head over to our Nintendo Switch OLED Unboxing and Review now!

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Apple reportedly working on a Nintendo Switch competitor

Only rumored at this point

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The Nintendo Switch is still the undisputed ruler of on-the-go gaming. With a dedicated TV dock, gamers can also plug in their Switches when they get home. Even amid the strong launch of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S, the Switch is still the most versatile. However, a massive surprise entrant — Apple — is reportedly making its own competitor for the Nintendo Switch.

According to a rumor from iDrop News, Apple is working on both the console and games exclusive to the potential console. Much like the Switch, the console will work in both portable and docked modes. It can also work with Apple’s virtual reality technology. The same report also includes a rumor for a future Apple TV redesign. Having a console attached to the project would make sense.

Additionally, Apple is reportedly working with game studios to develop a “Zelda-like game.” When the Switch launched, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the strongest launch titles that sustained the new console for months. A similar game might be the way to go for such a console. However, the report does not indicate who is developing the game or what it will be about.

That said, the potential console is still heavily rumored at this point. Plans for such a console might ultimately fall through. Still, it’s nice to speculate when the Switch finally gets another competitor in the hybrid console arena.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch OLED: Pricing in the Philippines

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