Why The Last of Us is Good

Joel and Ellie, the most iconic characters in the game

The Last of Us is a much-loved game, which has now been adapted into a TV show. But what is it about this game that makes it so good? In this article, we’re going to find out…


1. The Story

Ellie's first time in a car!

A game is a form of entertainment, and for good entertainment, we need good stories - which is certainly the case in The Last of Us. 

The storyline of The Last of Us hangs on the Cordyceps fungus, which is sweeping the population of the United States, taking over humans’ minds and bodies and turning them into the aggressive “infected”.

One of the best parts of The Last of Us is how in-depth its storyline is when it comes to the virus and the infected. This manifests in the different types of infected creature; there are several stages in their evolution, each having its own characteristics and weaknesses, which is important in combat - but we’ll come onto that later.

Another of the interesting parts of the storyline of The Last of Us which makes it so intriguing and thought-provoking is the dictatorship of FEDRA, and the power they have over quarantine zones and the general public. 

The other side of this coin is the Fireflies, a group rebelling against FEDRA who are, in some ways, just as violent.

The world of The Last of Us is a morally grey one, where none of the characters are truly good or bad, which makes everything so much more interesting.

The story is a big part of what makes The Last of Us so good, as it gives us a reason to care about these characters, and to be motivated to help them fight to get to the other side - if there really is one.


2. The Cut Scenes

Joel carries his daughter Sarah, moments before her death.

Another part of what makes the story of The Last of Us so much richer and more detailed is the cut scenes, and in particular, the opening scene.

The opening cut-scene is so great because it gives us context for the rest of the game, and helps us to understand not only the extreme circumstances of the fungus, but also Joel’s character. 

The opening cut scene introduces Joel to us, as well as his daughter Sarah and his brother Tommy.

As we follow the trio through the infected as they try to escape their hometown, we come to understand how desperate the situation is, and how in crisis the world is. 

Then, Sarah is shot and killed by a FEDRA soldier, which tells us a lot about the stronghold they have over most of the United States. 

The whole scene is emotional and cinematic, and it provides a lot of context about Joel’s character, and why he seems so cynical and angry at first. 

The cut scenes really add to the overall storyline, giving us information when needed, making the whole story so much more complex and detailed - and that’s certainly part of what makes The Last of Us so good.


3. The Characters

Ellie in her iconic red T-Shirt.

An important part of what makes any story good is the characters in it.

The characters in The Last of Us are very complex and well-developed, essential to what makes a game captivating and intriguing.

The game focuses on Joel and Ellie, and their own issues as well as the dynamic between them. 

Joel, as we’ve talked about above, is still dealing with the grief of losing Sarah, which has made him cynical and jaded. He has been beaten down by the world, and focuses on what he needs to do to survive, which makes him more morally grey.

Ellie, on the other hand, is a lot more impulsive, often swears and isn’t fazed by violence. A child of the post-pandemic world, there are many things from Joel’s previous life that she doesn’t understand or hasn’t seen before, which makes her perspective a very unique one. 

Joel and Ellie form a bond eventually, and they mirror something of a father-daughter relationship, which is all the more poignant with the knowledge that Joel is still grieving his own daughter. 

The characters are another part of what makes up the great game that is The Last of Us.


4. The Setting 

Ellie sees a giraffe for the first time.

The Last of Us takes place in a post-pandemic world; some would say post-apocalyptic, but we’re not allowed to call the infected “zombies”. 

The game takes us through all the different sides of the post-pandemic country, from cities to towns to rural landscapes. 

Firstly, we are met with the once-busy city in which Joel and Tess live together, cooped up in a cramped apartment. This part of the city is grey and beige, devoid of colour, a harshly grim reality. 

There are other sides to the city, however, which are hauntingly beautiful. In these parts, nature has taken over urban buildings and skyscrapers, with vines and plants crawling up buildings. 

Then, we see the barren landscapes of rural America, made even more barren after the Cordyceps pandemic. 

The world of The Last of Us is a strange, unfamiliar place, with strange phenomena like wild animals from a nearby zoo wandering around cities, in a beautiful moment in which Ellie sees a giraffe for the first time.

The setting of The Last of Us again really helps us understand the world it takes place in, immersing us further in the game - and that’s just another part of what makes it good!


5. Graphics

The lens flare - a sign of a game with good graphics...

As with any great game, the graphics in The Last of Us really complement and work well with the setting and storyline of the game. 

The graphics - including the dark, bleak, de-saturated landscapes and the level of detail in the landscapes - make the setting very much come alive, making us truly immersed in the world around us.

The graphics also help to make the infected far more terrifying, with the disgusting detail of their fungus-filled forms. There’s a shine to the infected, in their slime, that makes them somehow more satisfying to shoot - and, as you’d expect, the graphics of the combat always delivers.

In addition, the graphics in the character design are also exceptional. Again, everything is detailed, from each character’s blemishes and freckles to the blood and dirt-spray after combat, which makes everything feel all the more realistic and bleak.

Essentially, the graphics very much complement the story and characters, which is a big part of what makes The Last of Us a really good game. 


6. Human combat

Joel shoots the FEDRA soldiers pursuing him.

Throughout the course of The Last of Us, as well as fighting the infected, as Joel, you also have to fight against FEDRA soldiers.

FEDRA is a big part of The Last of Us, often posing as much of a threat as the infected. They are something of a totalitarian state, refusing to leave the general public much room for freedom. 

To get between territories, Joel has to make his way across borders with Ellie, which means fighting FEDRA. 

The human combat in The Last of Us is all from the third person - as is the case for the whole game - which is an exciting perspective. It mostly consists of shooting and stealth attacks as well as sneaking and hiding, and it is a thrilling part of the game.

The human combat is an important part of the game, and the gameplay overall is engaging and thrilling, which definitely contributes to making The Last of Us a good game. 


7. Infected combat

Sometimes, when you're swarmed with infected, a taking a bat is the only option.

The other part of combat in The Last of Us is the infected combat. Again, a lot of this combat is made up of shooting and melee, and depends on sneak attacks and the type of infected creature. 

The infected creatures, as we’ve explained above, differ in abilities and styles. The clickers, for example - probably the most iconic of the infected in The Last of Us - are one of the more difficult infected creatures to attack. 

Blind yet super vigilant to any noise, the clickers use a type of echolocation to find their victims. This means, when fighting the clickers, Joel and Ellie must be as silent as possible, which presents its own challenges. 

In terms of the combat itself, the graphics when the infected are shot are often bloody and grotesque, but in a way that fits the general tone of the game in its bleakness and brutality.

The combat with the infected in The Last of Us contributes to what makes it a good game, as the gameplay is enjoyable and challenging at times.


8. Online and Multiplayer Mode

The multiplayer mode of The Last of Us.

Another fun part of the gameplay in The Last of Us is the multiplayer online option, which is only available with certain versions of the game. 

The multiplayer mode - which is called Factions - is a fun option for playing with multiple people if you want to play online with your friends!

With the multiplayer option, there are three game modes, known as Supply Raid, Survivors and Interrogation. 

Supply Raid is a team deathmatch game which allows you to respawn, whereas in Survivors, there is no such option.

In Interrogation, on the other hand, players must find the opposing team’s lockbox, and whoever finds the lockbox first wins. 

The multiplayer online option available in The Last of Us is a fun addition to the game which enhances the main storyline. While not part of the main game, it is a good add-on which acts as a shorter, more interactive option ideal for groups of friends looking for an evening of nerdy fun with their favourite game. Aspects like the multiplayer option in The Last of Us is what makes it a great game which is super fun to play.


9. Fun Factor

Some of the brutal gameplay in The Last of Us.

Many different elements of The Last of Us make it a good game and fun to play, from the storyline, setting and characters to the gameplay and combat. 

Part of this is down to the graphics of the violence, which certainly gives the game that fun factor. The infected pop and ooze slime and blood and pus when shot, adding to the bleak and slightly grotesque tone of those moments of combat. 

Another part which gives The Last of Us the fun factor is the interactions and growing relationships between the characters, especially Joel and Ellie. Watching their friendship develop is almost cinematic, but then you get to work as Joel to protect Ellie, and this relationship begins to mean a whole lot more. 

In addition, your immersion in the story as a player controlling Joel very much contributes to the overall fun factor. You really begin to understand what it feels like to exist in such a difficult and scary world, which can be a bit intense at times, but it’s uniquely thought-provoking. 

There are also good opportunities to explore the environment around you in between moments of combat and story beats, which adds to the fun factor.

I think it’s clear from looking at different elements of The Last of Us that what gives the game the fun factor is also what generally makes it a good game!


10. Replayability

The show is now on HBO!

There are a few things that make The Last of Us replayable. Perhaps the most important right now is the fact that recently, the game was adapted to be produced as a TV show, which was released on HBO in 2023. 

The release of the TV show has caused many people to play the game for the first time, as well as bringing many people back to the game to replay it, as the show has garnered a lot of popularity. 

In addition, there are just a few things fans of the game keep coming back for. Just like watching a favourite movie or series over and over again, the storyline is so captivating and easy to immerse yourself into continuously. 

Also, with The Last of Us Part 2 now out, people are going back to replay the first game before playing the second one to get full continuity and to be able to understand the second game in more depth. 


It’s clear from what we’ve looked at that there are so many aspects that make The Last of Us a great game, and now even more people are finding it and becoming fans thanks to the popularity of the TV show!


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With a penchant for impressive graphics and heart-wrenching storylines, I have had the pleasure of delving deep into the philosophy and storytelling of my favourite games through my writing.
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: BioShock
Top 3 Favorite Games:BioShock, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, BioShock 2

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