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The Last of Us Beginner’s Mini eGuide

Learn how to survive the apocalypse.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

A destructive virus ravaged the American population. Humans known as the infected were subjected to a voracious strain of Cordyceps. This mutated fungus evolved and largely destroyed our species.  With the virus taking hold of their bodies, these hapless victims are simple shells of the people they used to be. 

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It has been 20 years since the outbreak, and Joel has become immune to the death and destruction. The memories of his old life slowly fade away, with the people he loved in his dreams replaced by monsters in his nightmares.  You take control of Joel as he attempts to escort a young girl named Ellie across this dangerous and infectious terrain. In this Beginner’s Mini eGuide, we will cover the basic information to survive The Last of Us.

Controlling Joel

Killing has become second nature to Joel after 20 years of dealing with the infected. Whether it’s plunging a shiv into the neck of Clicker or using stealth to take out another human being, Joel has what it takes to become a survivor.  Despite this experience, the voracious environment can be deadly to newcomers. This is where we come in. We will prepare you to control Joel and survive the infected. 

The Last of Us does not have a straightforward training level and forces you to learn on your feet. You do however have a guide. Your friend Tess has decimated the infected for years and has an edge of experience over you. She serves as a mentor of sorts to get you familiar with the infected and how to navigate the world. 

In the beginning of The Last of Us, Joel’s options for defense are limited to cover and stealth takedowns. It is important when entering any situation to immediately seek cover and exit points in case you are attacked.  In The Last of Us, you can never leave yourself cornered. You must always keep your eyes open at all times. When you spot the infected, locate cover and press Circle to duck behind it. You must move slowly, even when crouched. Too much motion can alert the infected or humans to your presence. There will be times however, where speed is necessary. You can pull the right trigger (R2) to run in cover. Just be aware that enemies may key in to your position at any moment.

While in cover, remain aware of your surroundings. While your target may not be able to see you, another infected will. Use the right analog stick to move the camera and make note of your surroundings. Enemies usually travel in groups.

Maneuver in and out of cover to get closer to your opposition. Be careful not to step on any bottles that may alert them to your presence. In The Last of Us, timing is everything. You must be in tune with the environment and know the right time to strike. Once you are close enough, step out from behind cover while crouched. Slowly approach your targeted enemy and press Triangle to strangle it. Once you enter the strangle animation, press Square to slowly squeeze the life from its body and quietly put it to sleep for good. Remember, Clickers cannot be strangled so be prepared to have a weapon ready to take them out.

While Tess will show you the ropes, you are now prepared with the basic mechanics of combat.

Combating the Infected

When a human being is infected with the Cordyceps virus, it takes two days for the fungus to control the human vessel. The human host slowly begins to lose its humanity, as it becomes a shell for the fungus to grow. The human host then goes through stages of infection. 

First, the fungus turns humans into Runners. There are two forms of this psychotic infection. One form causes the human hosts to stand in place breathing heavy and appearing to fight for what’s left of his personality. The other form of Runner is aggressive, convulsing uncontrollably and wandering aimlessly. Runners also travel in packs, so never assume there is just one. 

The best way to approach any infected is to avoid them at all costs. You can also sneak up behind these creatures and strangle them to death. If you find yourself face-to-face with a runner, prepare to take it out. Use a melee weapon instead of a pistol or shotgun to avoid drawing other infected. If the Runner gets too close, press Square to create space between you and the infected and use a melee weapon. If you do not have a weapon, get your hands dirty and beat the Runner to a bloody pulp.

After prolonged exposure to the infection, Runners mutate into Clickers. These grotesque monsters rip flesh from bones. While Runners maintain a sense of humanity, the Clickers have lost all meaning of the word. In this stage, the fungus infects as many humans as possible. The fungus has disfigured the face of the Clickers and left them blind; they use echolocation to find living things within the environment. Clickers are the most dangerous of the infected and often lead to instant death if confronted directly. Luckily, you can use their weakness of sight against them. Clickers must “click” in order to navigate through this environment. This often gives away their location and lets you know they are in the area. This allows you to avoid the Clickers and maneuver around them. When you hear the “clicking” noise, immediately move to a vantage point. Remember that clickers may be closer than they sound.

Scavenging for Items

Supplies are scarce. Once the outbreak hit, survivors scoured the area and scavenged everything possible. When Joel and Ellie wander outside of the quarantine zones, they find items that were left behind. Joel can use these items to help ensure their survival. While these items may seem like common unusable things, when combined, they are valuable tools that can be used for protection.

Joel can combine items to craft weapons and medical kits. What may seem like a common household item can be used in a variety of ways if combined with other things. A pair of scissors and duct tape forms a dangerous shiv to force into the necks of the infected.  Joel can also use these items to upgrade to a more dangerous weapon. 

All melee weapons can break and have a visible on-screen meter while in use. The meter displays how many times the weapon can be relied upon before it is rendered useless. Pay close attention to this meter. You may have to switch weapons to avoid them breaking during combat and leaving you vulnerable to attack. Crafting new additions to your melee weapon can also extend its life.

Firefly Tags

After the outbreak, what was left of the government attempted to set up quarantine zones to protect the survivors.  During this period, a rebel militia group rose to defy what was left of the government. The group is determined to uncover the truth of the infection. The group is known only as the Fireflies.

The Fireflies ask Joel and Tess to transport Ellie to a specific location for reasons unknown. After Joel meets Marlene, leader of the Fireflies, he agrees. The Fireflies are fighting a secret battle, and collecting their tags allows Joel a window into their war.

Throughout your journey, Joel can collect Firefly tags. This is more than obtaining a trophy. It opens Joel’s eyes to a larger war. The first Firefly tag is located beside the body of a dead solider after you meet Ellie for the first time.

Always check bodies of fallen human beings and infected to locate a Firefly tag.  In addition, check areas where a solider might hide or find cover. This could be behind a car, in the corner of a room or underneath or inside trucks. Collecting these tags allows you to preserve the memory of the fallen Firefly. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten, and their war will not be in vain.

More Life-Saving Tips

The Last of Us Intermediate Mini eGuide

The Last of Us Advanced Mini eGuide

The Last of Us: Top 10 Tips for Surviving the Infected

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