In The Last of Us, players take control of Joel, a texas construction worker, while Ellie is controlled by the AI. The gameplay features both weapon and melee combat with a cover system and dynamic stealth (in which is enemies react differently to the different strategies and techniques) action.
While not open world, the gameplay is less linear than in the Uncharted series and involves more exploration and scavenging for supplies, which can be combined in Joel's inventory through crafting.
Joel has a set health indicated in by the green bar around the current weapon selection in the bottom right of the screen. When Joel is attacked he will lose health and when the bar is depleted he will die and you'll need to restart from the last checkpoint. Note that some enemies, such as Clickers and Bloaters, have a one hit kill that will kill Joel no matter what his current health is.
Equipment & Weapons
Joel carries a Flashlight at all times, which can be turned on by hitting R3, and an assortment of equipment that he scavenges through the game. Due to a limited backpack size, Joel can only carry a limited amount of ammo and have up to four things equipped and available quickly via the D-Pad:
- 1 Small Firearm (Right)
- 1 Long Firearm (Left)
- Brick or Bottle (Down)
- Health Kit (Up)
As Joel progresses through the game he will scavenge new weapons to help him make his way through the numerous infected and scavengers that wish him dead. Bombs can be quickly equipped by pressing up or down on the D-Pad to the desired bomb, but new weapons will remain unequipped and will have to be equipped by pressing left or right on the D-Pad and holding X to select a new weapon.
Note that if you create the "Holsters" at a workbench, Joel has the ability to equip 2 Small and 2 Long Firearms at once.
Movement & Actions
The following is a list of the movement and actions that Joel can perform and what they do.
Joel can climb over most low obstacles in the world to help him advance through the destroyed remains of civilization by pressing X near a low obstacle or ladder. In some cases, ledges will be too high to climb up alone and require Ellie's help. When looking at a high ledge press Triangle, if available, to boost Ellie up and then follow with her help by pressing X.
If you want to go stealthy, crouching by pressing O will be an important part of your survival. Note that while this appears to make you more quiet, you will still need to move slowly to avoid excess noise and sneak up on enemies.
Because nature has begun to reclaim the world, blocking sewage in major cities, much of the world has become flooded. Luckily, Joel can swim when he enters deep water and even dive by pressing O. Underwater, Joel has a limited amount of air, indicated by the half-circle next to the health meter, and you will need to resurface by pressing X before he runs out. If you run out of air, Joel's health will begin to fall.
Riding a Horse
Taking a note from games such as Assassin's Creed, Joel and Ellie may rarely encounter a horse that they can ride. While the controls are similar to Joel's normal actions, horses do not automatically jump over obstructions. Watch out for logs and barricades and make sure to press X when you see one.
In order to survive, Joel and Ellie will need to scavenge the wreckage of the places they encounter to try and find valuable items that can be combined and used to help aid them in their journey. The following is a list of what types of items you can find, and how each of them is useful.
By far the most important items in the games, there are three different types: Health Kits, Health Can, and Health Bars. Health Kits heal most of your character's health, but are rare to find. They can be crafted with Alcohol and a Rag, but at the cost of not crafting something offensive with the same materials. In some rare cases, when running at low health, Health Kits may be found in unique "Low Health" spawn points or be given to the player by Ellie or Tess. the other two health items come in three sizes: Large, Medium, and Small. These items can not be placed in your inventory and heal Joel instantly, but for less than Health Kits.
Melee weapons are close quarters items, such as pipes and bats. While increasing your basic melee attack power, these items each have a limited amount of hits before breaking or becoming so dull that they are no longer useful. Some items, such as hatchets and machetes, also have limited use, but they are one-hit kills and can be modified through crafting.
Bottles & Bricks
If you want to go the stealth route, bottles and bricks are your best friend. These handy items can be used to distract enemies by throwing them away from where you'd like to go to draw the enemy's attention or used to stun an enemy on contact. To equip, press Down on the D-Pad and then throw it with L1 + R1, aiming with the trajectory arc. If you are in a rush, you can automatically throw these by pressing or holding R1.
Shivs get their own little section because they are extremely valuable. They are required for both taking down an Infected Clicker, requires the Shiv Master Skill, and opening special "Shiv Doors". Craftable with a Blade and Binding, these items have limited use and will break when their durability runs out. Note that Training Manuals can increase the durability of Shivs, getting you three uses if you find all by the end of the game.
Joel can find guns in the world to help him survive difficult enemies and encounters, with the ability to equip one handgun and one long gun at a time. All unequipped weapons are stored in the backpack and can be equipped by using X and the D-Pad (left or right). Note that by using parts at a workbench, Joel can create holsters that allow him to equip two of each kind at a time. While great for quick kills, guns take ammunition, which is rarely found and dropped by enemies.
There are three types of explosives: Molotov Cocktails, Nail Bombs, and Smoke Bombs. These items can be rarely found, but once you learn the recipe you can craft them fairly easy. They are essential for Bloater enemies and groups, meaning you should always keep one on hand in case of emergency.