So many incredible games have come through the mighty iron gates of PlayStation like God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Bloodborne - to name a few - but no great list would ever be complete without mentioning The Last of Us franchise. As great as the original TLOU was, the 2022 remake administered more realistic character models and better graphics across the board, and in 2020, The Last of Us Part 2 was born, which took Naughty Dog to an all-new level in more ways than one.

As we look at these two incredible games side by side, which one is truly better when analyzing elements like their story, replayability, and world-building? Let's break down both The Last of Us Part 1 and The Last of Us Part 2 to get a real understanding of what one comes out on top once and for all.

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Story and Pacing

joel and ellie the last of us part 1

From a narrative point of view, both The Last of Us Part 1 and Part 2 are masterpieces in the art of storytelling. There's no doubt about that. While one is about love and hope, the other depicts the cycle of violence and revenge, but part 2 would be nothing without part 1. The Last of Us Part 2 builds on the incredible story left over from Part 1 in such a horrific but beautiful way and yet there are areas where the game could have been trimmed down a bit, especially so in the second half of Abby's journey after helping Yara where you felt like you were going over the same grounds. Cinematics litter Part 2 in a way that can make it, at times, crawl along, which, in turn, slows down its storytelling a little in general.

The Last of Us Part 1 is a hell of a lot more fluid; it runs from point to point without feeling like you are sometimes walking through tar to get to the next stage of the game. Also, TLOU1 can be completed in around 15 hours, while TLOU2 takes, at least, 25 hours from start to finish. That's not to say just because one game is longer or shorter than the other that it will be better, but because of Part 2's pacing and how bleak it is, which can take a real emotional toll, coupled with a little too many cutscenes, Part 1 feels like the better overall and more relatable experience without having to dig too much in other characters psyche for this specific category.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 1

Character development

Abby and ellie the last of us part 2

Ellie's dramatic change from how she behaved in Part 1 compared to Part 2 is almost incomprehensible. The shift, especially so in her psychological state, from being this innocent, hopeful and trusting 14-year-old to an angry, unempathetic, and calculating 19-year-old in Part 2 is the biggest change in character development we have seen across the franchise. Part 2 offered up an Ellie we had never seen before in such a way that her moral compass took a huge beating, and understandably so.

We also saw how, on the flip side, Joel seemed a lot more trusting than he had been in Part 1 and would have been previously more reluctant to help Abby and her gang at the start of Part 2. This showed how Joel had become far too comfortable living in Jackson in the time between both games that he forgot the dangers that were out there; he felt safe, which was, obviously, his biggest downfall and biggest character regression. In the case of Abby, her character development was undeniably noticeable - here was someone who went from hating the scars to then taking one under her wing and caring about Lev like he was her own.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 2


Ellie in the last of us part 2 combat

The Last of Us Part 1's combat system remains, for the most part, largely unchanged from the original. There are, however, more intense combat sequences and stealth encounters when enemies are trying to flank you due to the controller improvements made in the remake. Naughty Dog also implemented better NPCs that actually stay out of your sightline when in stealth mode and, of course, that much-needed DualSense adaptative triggers and haptic feedback that really does up the ante when pulling strings on the bow or shooting.

Although I think it's safe to say that The Last of Us Part 2 blew what we knew about combat out of the water completely. Not only were the fight scenes a hell of a lot more brutal, aggressive and gorier, but the combat integration was a lot more advanced in terms of Ellie and Abby's stealth options and seamless dodges during one-on-one encounters, meaning there's plenty to learn. The ability to crouch and go prone when lining up a shot at your enemy was a game changer, not to mention how nerve-wracking it is when enemies spot you and are able to call in their comrades, turning what could have been a simple takedown while hiding in the long grass into a free-for-all bloodbath.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 2


Ellie seattle day one in the last of us part 2

This is quite a tough one as The Last of Us Part 1 and The Last of Us Part 2 both have outstanding merits to want to dive into it time and time again. However, in an age where so many real-world events keep us in a constant state of bleakness, part 2 can be a lot to chew more than once and even though Part 1 isn't all rainbows and butterflies, it's a hell of a lot more cheerful than part 2. On the other hand, the exploration in Part 1 is slightly more limited than in Part 2. Yes, you can explore side alleys and the odd unlocked house, but for the most part, TLOU1 keeps gamers on a rather short leash.

Both games do have New Game+ and a grounded mode to keep the eager and the competitive among us happy, but it's important to remember that Part 2 is 50% bigger, not just in animation and characters, but in levels and environments, so there will be so many things to miss in your first playthrough that include notes left by characters scattered throughout the world, very cool Easter eggs, upgrading all your weapons and finding collectibles that are near impossible to do on your first go. I think it's also really eye-opening to go back to that scene with Abby and Joel and re-experience and analyze your feelings about her now, knowing what you do to see if your perspective has changed.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 2


the last of us Accessibility

Naughty Dog has raised the bar when it comes to accessibility standards in The Last of Us franchise, but out of part 1 and part 2, which is better from an accessible point of view? The fact that both games in the series are playable from start to finish by, in particular, sightless players is a huge achievement, but if we look at how many accessibility features that are included in both titles, it's somewhat simpler to understand which is better.

The Last of Us Part 1 comes with a weighty list of six accessibility options that include boosts for audio descriptions for cinematics, but one of the main complaints has been its lack of captions that assist the DualSense's vibrations, sluggish aiming, and heavy movements. However, with The Last of Us Part 2, it features more than sixty accessibility settings, with expanded options focused on fine motor and hearing, as well as completely new features that benefit low-vision and blind players which is a testament to what Naughty Dog has done with this game.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 2

Multiplayer and DLC

Riley and Ellie in Left Behind

Now, I think this category, by far, is a slam dunk in The Last of Us' favor. As far back as 2018, Naughty Dog announced that it planned to deliver a multiplayer component for The Last of Us Part 2 but that it wouldn't be tacked onto the main game. But roll on four years later, and that Factions dream came abruptly to an end that shattered the hearts of the dedicated community who still play The Last of Us MP and who so very badly wanted another apocalyptic multiplayer experience. As yet, there have been no plans to include any DLCs for TLOU2 but, of course, that could very likely change in the future.

The original Last of Us and the Part 1 remake has an incredible DLC called Left Behind which explores the events that changed the lives of Ellie and her best friend Riley forever. Not only that, there's also an equally amazing multiplayer called 'Factions' included that, in my opinion, is one of the most unique and most fun multiplayers around.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 1

World Building

Ellie on a horse in Seattle in The Last of Us Part 2

All you have to do is look around in The Last of Us Part 2 to see how much thought has gone into its world-building. Incredible amounts of time have been invested into every building, whether it’s a humble convenience store or a music shop. Walking around a derelict house will see you finding out about those people's lives merely from the long leftover packages of food, crumbled up magazines, family pictures on the dresser, or their taste in music from the posters on the wall and slew of gone-over CDs.

In The Last of Us Part 1, Naughty Dog's brutal realities of the post-apocalyptic US set up Part 2's world-building perfectly, especially when it comes to the spreading of the fungus, and from that, a host of new infected appeared in Part 2, but it was also limited in what it showcased. At times, Part 1 felt a little empty, although that incredible scene with the giraffe cemented that sought-after feel-good factor that was much needed, especially for Joel and Ellie's relationship. But there's no denying how Part 2 ran with so many impactful moments that just wouldn't have been possible without its incredible world design and the constant threat of the WLF and The Seraphites, otherwise known as 'Scars'.

Winner: The Last of Us Part 2

Overall Winner: The Last of Us Part 2

Joel, Ellie and Abby in The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part 2 is really just an incredible game that took the foundation left from the original and built on it with leaps and bounds. Not only did TLOU2 show us just how far motion capture technology and graphical fidelity have come in modern times, but it also changed the face of how we experience games in general. It makes us realize that, even in games, not everything is so black and white and how "human" these characters are to us to evoke such extreme emotions. It's a game that expertly manipulates our emotions to explore our ugliest instincts, only to show that we're capable of being more than that.

It has every ingredient needed to not only knock our socks off visually but to rip our hearts out, give us moments of joy and immense sorrow, throw us into brutal and compelling combats, and offers up the most grueling yet honest narrative, all while forcibly holding a mirror up to ourselves. As utterly amazing as The Last of Us Part 1 is in so many ways, Part 2 is deserving of being the better game in the end.

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