The Last of Us Part 2, Videogame Violence, And The Ol' LD (DISCOURSE FREE)

@robinhoodie#14767 I still want my fantasy nonviolent Last of Us sequel to be realized, but this simple reframing would have been more interesting. It probably also would have made the Gamer backlash upon release even crazier. I always love sticking it to the Gamers.

@captain#14795 agree 1000%. Or at least make sparing use of combat/danger. Always loved how Shenmue had long peaceful stretches which in addition to being good in and of itself, made the fighting more intense and meaningful. I'd like to understand who exactly likes fighting so often in yakuza games. What are they thinking?


@Gaagaagiins#14792 hinges entirely on whether or not Ellie know how to operate a forklift

lol I imagine forklift certified would be in keeping with naughty dog's concept of what lesbians are


@yeso#14798 Gaagaagiins hinges entirely on whether or not Ellie know how to operate a forklift


lol I imagine forklift certified would be in keeping with naughty dog’s concept of what lesbians are

lmao you got me

Also my dream established franchise entry that is a non-violent adventure/visual novel/whatever style game, is _Mass Effect_

A great deal of things that are disappointing about Mass Effect are that what it considered to be its main gameplay revolved around violence. I think I was playing Mass Effect 2 and during a mission where I felt almost like I was taking a break to talk to people and figure something or other out, I felt for a second like I was playing an Ace Attorney game, and I think ever since then I thought that that sort of thing would be pretty cool in a really varied and complex science fiction world. Whether you think that describes Mass Effect or not is a matter of opinion but I think if a Mass Effect game were to be made without combat, it would surely enhance those aspects of it.

I don't know if I'm that interested in a non-violent _The Last of Us_ game, simply because I think the world has problems that I don't know if there is any other solution for. So to some degree just existing in that world necessitates violence, and, I do think it's sorta safe to say that enacting any sort of meaningful wide-reaching changes in that world is going to require violence. We cannot "talk to these creatures" in _The Last of Us._ On the other hand, it does stand to reason that that violence doesn't need to happen on screen, nor does it need to be performed at the hands of player characters. But I think it would be hard to make _The Last of Us Part II_ both without centring violence and as well without it just being about a survivalist community and their personal relationships, which, I dunno, it's not a waste of the setting by any means but it doesn't seem to be what the setting is designed to be doing.

Do we want this because it would definitely be good or do we want this out of the overall overrepresentation of videogames in which violence or violent actions constitute so much of the central gameplay?

that‘s a good question. For me it’s both. Would like to see way way less violence used in the medium as a whole, but also I personally am bored of it. It think yakuza, mass effect as you point out (2 and 3 especially), TLOU, all would be better without or with much less of it. I think we can all see how combat is more vestigial to the experience than contributes to it.

Something like streets of rage, I'd say that's a "justified" use of violence as a central action. Not a moral judgement, just saying it's a necessary part of the texture.

@captain#14795 I also considered that if you don't show that Ellie is the one stalking Abby in this reframing, when you pick up as Ellie you could have a nonstandard game over where you choose not to pursue Abby. Cut back to the movie theater and its Tommy there. Like cut the player off from more than half of the content of the game if they choose to stop the cycle of violence. Not sure what you do with the coda then though. Pretty sure this kind of choice would enrage gamers.



it’s not a waste of the setting by any means but it doesn’t seem to be what the setting is designed to be doing.

I guess in arguing for my sequel idea I would say The Last of Us 1's use of violence is enough to satisfy the setting's violence quota. My bottom line is I didn't want a sequel for The Last of Us at all, but if one has to exist I think it would be neat to completely ignore the central set of mechanics of the first game, as though to say, This thing you cared about in the first game, the characters and narrative, that can be interesting even without the stealth action we packaged it in previously. The museum tour-style sections of these games (walking around the literal museum in TLOU2, exploring the mall with Riley in Left Behind) are some of my favorite segments; I don't think you could build an entire game around them because of how uninteractive they are, but the fact that they feel compelling at all despite not letting you "do" anything says to me that they could work in tandem with some other kind of gameplay loop which is not stealth action (which, again, I do like in the first game, and I liked well enough in the second one). I enjoyed riding around Seattle looking at what had become of its buildings more than I liked going inside them to engage in combat encounters; there's nothing like that setting in the first game and I wonder what else could have been done with it.

Also agree that Mass Effect could stand to shed most of its combat, and with the idea that this isn't inherently an indictment of violence in games (though it should not be the case that 99% of games rely on it so heavily). The thing that's interesting about Yakuza and Mass Effect is not the fighting you do between conversations with people; the fighting is just there to keep the player from getting bored of talking for hours (and to sell games, obviously). Though considering the range of minigames in Yakuza the overreliance on fisticuffs is surprising. Have we played Judgment? Is there a lot of fighting in that?

So to answer the question I also think it's both. Maybe not _definitely_ good, but potentially more interesting, at least in the case of some of these games we've mentioned. That being said, man do I _love_ some violent games some of the time.

@robinhoodie#14807 Or instead of a game over, imagine if they had a Witcher 2-type choice that just changed half the game depending on the player's answer. That would be ridiculous and have demanded years of more (stressful, crunched) work, but just for the sake of this fantasy. Otherwise yeah, they would need to make that coda pretty satisfying in order to not make actually feel like a premature game over.

@captain#14808 There‘s as much fighting in Judgement as there is in a mainline Yakuza game. That’s one of the things that really disappointed me about it. I thought they were going to rely more heavily on the investigation mechanics – like, have an Ace Attorney style game take place in a full 3D world – but it‘s just Yakuza with slightly different kinds of characters and a few detective themed missions. It’s still a great game though.

I have kind of a lot of opinions regarding The Last of Us and I am generally very vocal about them, and even though @Jtwo and @yeso have already voiced a fair amount of my critiques I would like to add my own two cents to the conversation.

About the first game, you can read this whole interaction [here]( which also includes some brief thoughts on the sequel.

Basically, I hate the first The Last of Us. I think it carries all the markers of A Bad Videogame both narratively and mechanically, with the presentation, graphical fidelity and art direction being the only exceptions (the art direction in particular I really enjoy, I think it's genuinely good). All of those aspects allowed the game to put on the façade of being something else, something more than the rest of videogames. The Last of Us' prestige production values, marketing campaign and collective hype allowed the game to enact a performance that ultimately has installed it in a space of the videogame collective imaginary and culture that it never deserved.

Playing it today dispels all the illusion its money and quality presentation could have bought at its time and now all that remains is a really mediocre third person action videogame, which is what it really was all along. It's very ironic that the game that started the modern AAA trend is the one that has become obsolete when compared to modern production style/values. We couldn't have had RDR2 without TLoU but now we do, all the flaws and seams the game had are hyperexposed via better technology, bigger budgets, extreme crunch and even more photo-realistic super-duper graphics.

Speaking about the sequel I would define The Last of Us 2 as a great videogame despite its worst efforts. The mechanics, level design and rewards systems are firmly in place and allow for a REALLY GOOD John Rambo styled murderbot simulator. Modern Far Cries, which are the most direct comparison to this game have never been this good, and even MGSV, which edges this game in terms of a more complex and layered IA and deeper control scheme loses to it in terms of structure, pacing and interesting level design. The thing is, it tries to double down on its inane nature as a fun videogame as hard as it does with that façade of prestige narrative the first game had, and as @Jtwo put it you can't have it both ways.

My issues with The Last of Us 2 stem all from the fact that it is a videogame conceived VERY CLEARLY from a "we need to do a mainstream third person shooty videogame because we are a AAA studio" framework first and foremost. Which also wants to have a compelling drama-fueled character-driven TV style narrative.

I doubt this game wasn't developed under the prerogative of being required to have a shotgun (and a bow) and allowing players to blast the head off of both human beings and zombies so fucking much that almost everything its narrative tries to pull off falls dead at my feet on the spot, killed by that same shotgun blast. The game tries to conceal this fact trying to use violence discourse and violence related themes as an exchange currency to establish some dialog between the very gamey game loop and the narrative, and the results range from mildly credible to seriously disgusting, specially in the ||"let's kill dogs and also some pregnant women!"|| department.

Some of the drama lands, tho. And even a tiny part of it I think is truly great, but let me put it this way: after The Last of Us 2 there are only two ways I'm going to play a Naughty Dog game again (I say play and not buy because honestly, that part is out of the question, sorry). Either they do Crash Bandicoot 5 or Jak 4 or something clearly light-hearted and fun, or they do a fucking videogame without guns (but all the discourse, politics and prestige narrative they feel like). For me it's one way of the other, but I'm not going to put up with both the same way I did with this game ever again.


@JoJoestar#14882 MGSV, which edges this game in terms of a more complex and layered IA and deeper control scheme loses to it in terms of structure, pacing and interesting level design.

you're certainly correct that TLOU2 carries itself of more adroitly and by most measures in a more satisfying way, but this comparison has me thinking about how those virtues sort of work against TLOU2.

I think that part of what makes MGSV successful as a condemnation of violence and the use of force for personal validation or ego satiation/sense of justice, is how fragmented and half empty the whole thing is. You have this overall weird vibe of brain-damaged, traumatized GI Joe action figures running around deserted warzones. It’s got a lot of stupid nonsense alongside interesting ideas (making the English language a material force for colonial destruction and cultural erasure for example), and it's ultimately neither graceful nor "neat" in its conclusions.

Kane and lynch 2 is another example maybe along similar lines. Really ugly all the time. Gives the player nothing satisfying, only debased bloodshed. It’s all fragmented and fucked up too, but owing to design choices rather than production problems like MGSV

I know this is a wildly unfair comparison, but consider the endings to come and see and salo - no answers and no comfort. TLOU2 attempts this downbeat denouement, gives you some symbolism with ellie's now fucked up hand unable to strum the guitar. Even the ending of TLOU focuses everything on a contrived ambiguity. I'm not saying TLOU/2 are not skillful or that my read is "correct," just trying to think through why they may not be successful as antiviolent games beyond just raw "ludo-narrative dissonance" (and beyond just my own weirdo personal tastes)

@yeso#14891 I was aiming the MGSV more from a purely gameplay perspective, putting two action-stealth games against each other, but I do agree it works better due to the looseness and how blurry and directionless it feels. But you could also make a lot of arguments against it talking for example about how the lack of direction enables the players to project whatever they may think might be going on, and acting as catalysts for the narrative the game doesn't really carry on its shoulders.

Kane and Lynch 2 I didn't play, but TLoU2 really plays that meme with the rock in a very similar way to Spec-Ops

When I say that some of the drama lands I mean almost invarably character drama. In-universe things, what happened to the characters, the parts where I empathize and the parts where I don't, stuff like that. Absolutely NONE of the theme-related discourse or political/cultural/anthropological insights the game puts forward are worth anything because the whole thing is such a fart to the wind. "Revenge sucks" and "Killing pregnant women is bad" are such non-committal non-statements of things so universally regarded as morally wrong by 100% of the human beings living on the planet Earth that whole thing comes off as cynical and stupid.


I already know that killing a pregnant lady in the course of a cycle of revenge is wrong, and I already know that the character ellie will be “haunted” by this. Just give me the audio/visual/narrative experience/object and let me have a meaningful (or not) time with it. The games feel (to me) like 30 hour lectures from a dumb guy who wants $59.99.

Basically this thing you wrote in one of your earlier posts, which with I 100% agree.

For this game to work as Neil Druckmann (the dumb guy asking for the sixty bucks) intended they needed to either decentralize violence in a meaningful way or remove it completely. What this game does with the character action, weapon upgrades, unlockable skills, collectibles, pills-in-the-bathroom/bolts-on-the-garage loot cycle is the opposite of meaningful. Literally the opposite because those are mechanical conceits with no literary or textual meaning, they need to be there because this is and had to be a mainstream third person action videogame and THAT was always the point.

The fact that I can't conjure even the semblance of a doubt that doing anything else other than a triple-A shooty bang bang videogame was ever on the table destroys this game at an ontological level. Because The Last Thing The Last of Us wants to be is meaningful or revolutionary. What it *really* wants is just being perceived that way, and sow the benefits of appearing and presenting itself as something really worth being told.

worth watching a playthrough at least of kane + lynch 2 wrt videogame violence I think

Might as well play it, why the heck not!

One thing I wanted to add is that I'm interested in seeing how the whole HBO adaptation of TLoU turns out because it could help clarifying or giving some keys on how we should relate to the games in an interesting and indirect sort of way.

If I had to make a bet I think it's going to end up being a polished and entertaining series along the lines of Game of Thrones and Westworld, which is to say: popcorn entertainment for people too pretentious to admit they like the Marvel movies (I'm being mean here, I apologize he he).

Westworld is 1000x as dope as anything in the MCU.

kane and lynch 2 is like 3 hrs long so another point in its favor

@Jtwo#14954 I mean, nothing against Westworld, Game of Thrones OR Marvel movies (I have enjoyed some of those!), I was taking a piss on a certain type of people that engage with media in a certain kind of way, confusing quality in the presentation with quality of the content, which is what brings us back to The Last of Us.

Although I admit that while I enjoyed the first season of that show (Westworld), haven't feel compelled to check the other seasons at all :/

@yeso Also must be dirt cheap at this point too, so definitely not enough good reasons to NOT play it. Will check on you when I do!

I've been avoiding commenting in this thread because I havnt (and probably wont) played TLoU2 (I did play the first one), but I read this article recently and wanted to add it to the discussion here.

When I first saw the headline I thought this was going to be a huge stretch, but theyve got a few Druckmann quotes in there spelling it out.

There is a part near the end about the revenge being offputting because it assumes the existance of an "intense hate that is universal" when that kind of hate might not actually be a universal. The article suggests that assuming revenge bloodlust is just a universal human feature without taking the time to explore how these hateful, revengeful attitudes can be taught to us by our society can make the "cycle of violence" seem inevitable when it doesnt have to be. A position that most stands to benefit the status quo and those who are able to withstand the most violence.

this druckman guy…good grief