Critics Corner: The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC
Given the epic story of The Last of Us, expectations for the game’s first were through the roof. Very seldom are DLCs better than the main campaign and I think the reviews indicate that for the Left Behind DLC. Many critics say that it’s as good as the main campaign but not better.
However, could you really get better than the story in The Last of Us in a DLC? I guess you would have to be able to define what could have been better and how to make it better to improve upon the original in a DLC. The story was just about perfect, in my opinion, so all that was left to improve on was the gameplay. The Last of Us isn’t a gameplay driven game so it wouldn’t make much sense to overhaul gameplay for a DLC that people are playing for the story.
Let’s face it, DLC is a tricky thing to get right. Very seldom is there a DLC that stands up to the main campaign. So rare is a DLC considered worth the money that it becomes noteworthy in the gaming news cycle. Most just feel like something that was pulled from the main game and padded a bit to make a bit more money. The great ones are those that actually have time, effort and care put into their development.
Anyway, enough waxing poetic about DLCs. How good was Naughty Dog’s first-ever single-player DLC? Here’s what the critics think.
“The Last of Us: Left Behind takes a step back from these events with a prologue to the main campaign, which leans more toward the character building, story-telling side of Naughty Dog’s repertoire of talents rather than the twists, turns, and stand-out moments that were so frequent in the main campaign. Lifted from the stories in the American Dreams comic books, Left Behind focuses on Ellie during her time in the Boston quarantine zone; specifically, when she meets up and explores the confines of a shopping mall with her close friend, Riley.” – PlayStation Universe (8.0/10)
“It’s just really nice to see two friends getting along as well as they do and since it’s based in a shopping mall there’s plenty for Ellie and Riley to chat about, from the various shops, to pre-apocalypse technology. Their pop-culture knowledge may be a bit too advance for two girls who grew up after the world fell, but there are some genuinely charming scenes, peppered with use of the youthful imagination that these young girls are so full of.” – The Sixth Axis (9.0/10)
“The constant tension you may remember from the main story, in fact, stays within the main story in an untold segment that finds Ellie, again at the mall, searching for medicine for an injured Joel during the Winter sequence before she comes across David and his crew. This side of Left Behind is in complete contrast to Riley and Ellie’s story that’s interweaved to create some of the best-told story DLC yet.” – PlayStation LifeStyle (9.5/10)
“If you liked the exploration bits of The Last of Us, this trip to a huge Boston mall will delight you. Even with the combat-free stretches that the dialogue takes place in, it still feels like you’re out exploring and learning new things about the world. And you really are exploring a new world. Unlike other downloadable story expansions, Left Behind is packed full of new things to see and do. We won’t spoil it, but there are times that you’re literally playing with your friend, goofing off with no goals or checkpoints to reach. This is stuff that will make you smile.” – Destructoid (9.0/10)
“Pushing the emotional side of things quite hard while unravelling the Ellie character, a large portion of your time will be spent on what may seem, on paper at least, as a little mundane. Water pistol fights, trying on a selection of masks, taking pictures in a photo booth – the reasons for all are abundantly clear, but they hit as much as they miss.” – VideoGamer (7.0/10)
“The thing is, while combat in Left Behind is totally enjoyable, I couldn’t help but wonder if it needed to be there at all.” – IGN (9.0/10)
“As you’d imagine, playing as Ellie feels quite different than playing as Joel. It’s very easy to walk around a corner and find yourself completely over your head with attackers. Even a one-on-one battle is a struggle, though. Ellie has a blade that works nicely for a face-stab finish, but it’s not nearly enough as a defensive weapon. Outside of having enough ammunition at the ready, Ellie has to keep completely out of the way of the Infected to survive. She’s simply not strong enough to take them on.” – Destructoid (9.0/10)
“In Ellie’s mission to find some medication for Joel’s near fatal wounds, she faces much adversity in both Hunters and Infected, separately and all at once, to create new combat situations that must be approached with strategy and caution. Here, her supplies and ammo are so scarce—more so than in the main game—Ellie has to be even more savvy and skilled than ever before… Despite how well done these moments are, in only two hours of gameplay with only half of that focusing on combat, it’s more of a tease than anything else—it’s just a taste that leaves you wanting more.” – PlayStation LifeStyle (9.5/10)
“If you’re coming at this DLC more for the gameplay than the story, you’ll be disappointed. Yes, there are enemy encounters, and they’re pretty clever in providing some new twists—but they’re few and far between in a journey that takes, at most, two to three hours to clear.” – EGM (8.5/10)
“Both actresses do a commendable job at building up the relationship with heartfelt dialogue and, just like the main campaign, facial animations capture every moment of emotion, leaving you glued to the screen.” – PlayStation Universe (8.0/10)
“Its impeccable level design utilizes its environments to take Ellie and Riley – wonderfully portrayed by Ashley Johnson and Yaani King – on a trip that is not easily forgotten, underpinned by sparing use of Gustavo Santaolalla’s beautiful score.” – Eurogamer (10/10)
“Left Behind serves as a reminder (as if we’d forgotten) of just how good Naughty Dog can be. Truly wonderful sections of youthful exuberance give way to bleak moments of horror and desperation. Two hours may not seem all that long, but the impact Left Behind has will be with you for hours afterwards.” – God is a Geek (10/10)
“Though fairly expensive and perhaps not as long as we could have hoped, Left Behind is a beautifully-realized foray back into the dangerous world Joel and Ellie inhabit in The Last of Us… Left Behind is a must-play for fans of the original game. The context it gives alone is worth the price of admission. Just make sure you steel yourself for the revelations you’re about to uncover.” – IGN (9.0/10)
“It embraces the developer’s impressive character development capabilities, and inches away from including elements that feel arbitrarily shoved in “because it’s a game.” Left Behind is small and quiet, but it’s also confident in a way The Last of Us never quite achieved.” – Polygon (8.0/10)