Last of Us EP5: The Brick Thief

By Shamus
on Sep 25, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

89 comments


Link (YouTube)

So Joel rolls up his sleeves, and Tess walks around with bare arms. This is silly. But it doesn’t bother me as much as this:

Watching the episode after recording, I see that Joel’s metal object (a pipe, I think) snaps in the middle of combat. Look, I understand the need for the player to gather and manage resources, but that is simply not good enough as a reason for having heavy-duty objects snap in half after a few hits. Neither is the “well, maybe it rusted!” excuse. Get a wooden bat, and see how long it takes you to snap it in half by pounding away on a mattress, punching bag, or other things that give and bend the way the human body does. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I am saying it’s not going to happen after five swings. It’s certainly not going to be common. And I don’t care how ripped you are, you are not going to snap a metal rod on a human torso. Guffaw.

We’ve got bullets, guns, potted plants, food, pills, bricks, shivs, and documents. The player has lots of crap to gather up. Please don’t add this ridiculous nonsense to a game that’s trying so hard to be taken seriously. I could hand-wave it (like so many other mechanics) if it made for good gameplay, but melee weapon degradation was an annoying contrivance twenty years ago, and it hasn’t become fun since then. Now it just looks silly.

Having complained about all that, I do like the approach to combat that this game takes. Most zombie games have you fighting waves of them, but TLOU keeps it small, focused, and tense.

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Footnotes:



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From the Archives:

  1. Theodolus says:

    I feel like the only melee weapon degradation that makes sense is with edged weapons. Especially in a fantasy scenario where you are beating it against armored opponents. In this case have the weapons potential damage degrade. So it will never break, it will just become less effective against non-armored areas or however you want to fiddle with the formula. This would give you something to collect and manage (sharpening stones or whatever analog) while not depriving you of a weapon in the middle of combat.

    • Alex says:

      Yeah, that would be a good way to do it. Give each weapon a blunt damage rating and a maximum sharpness bonus, and then damage reduction reduces both the damage on that hit and the sharpness bonus.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      Pretty soon a mechanic will be introduced That lets you bind a shiv to the melee weapon. It acts as a one use insta-kill, then the blade breaks off.

      Since it’s already been discussed that bare knuckling a zombie is stupid, I propose an alternative: You always have a melee weapon. This works just fine against people but zombies (being zombies) need much more of a beat-down. Strapping a shiv to the end makes it much more effective. It may not be an automatic kill, but it will also last longer than one use.

      This way there is still a tension when fighting zombies that your weapon could suddenly become less useful, but makes more sense in that A) your not punching your fist toward zombie mouths, and B) jury-rigged blades probably would break from use, where as a pipe would not.

      If they really wanted you to pick up different weapons then they could just make bats slightly more effective than a 2×4 and pipes better than bats. etc. etc.

  2. Vermander says:

    I really hated the “weapon degrade” thing in the Dead Rising games. How do things like sledgehammers, crowbars and fire axes keep breaking?

    Similarly, I hate how people in movies throw away guns when they run out of ammo. Guns are really expensive. Maybe hold onto them for a little while on the off chance you find more ammo? Or at least go back and recover them after the fight’s over. Even worse when the character’s a cop. I’m sure your chief would be thrilled to know you’re leaving discarded weapons all over the city where a random kid could find one.

    • Viktor says:

      Dead Rising is fine. A huge part of that game is exploring and trying out whatever weapon you can get your hands on, and weapon degradation encourages that. That game wasn’t trying to be realistic, so the ‘weapon breaks’ abstraction never bothered me the way “repair a baseball bat with parts from a baseball bat” did in Fallout NV.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Fallout isn’t very realistic, either, though; you can end up with a bat that is the product of seventeen lesser, constituent bats, but then you’re going to end up using it on giant mole rats, Mad Max-style raiders, and noodle-armed, jar-brained robots.

        Fallout is pretty heavy on the pulp.

      • Spammy says:

        My theory with New Vegas is that when you repair weapons what you’re actually doing is bringing them closer to the Platonic Form of that weapon. Until they reach zero durability they have some quality of the Form, more or less depending on their state. If you ever managed to get to 101% durability you’d actually have the perfect Form of the baseball bat in your hands.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          It isn’t %100 in’t New Vegas, although it was in FO3.

          New Vegas added the little line on the durability bar that marks when you actually start losing effectiveness, and anything above that is a “safe zone” of perfect functionality.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Is that as common as you suggest? I’m thinking most of the time when characters throw away guns (as opposed to being disarmed), the character’s in the middle of a firefight, doesn’t have a moment of peace to holster it properly, and needs a free hand to grab another weapon of opportunity.

      When it does happen, isn’t it usually a high action escape or climax scene, and the character has bigger priorities, like surviving/stopping the bad guy?

      But on your last note, there’s a great Johnnie To film called PTU (Police Tactical Unit), about a Hong Kong cop who loses his sidearm in a fight with the triads, and his buddies spend all night trying to find it before he has to report it missing in the morning.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Even if you dont have a way to conveniently holster a gun,you can still use it pretty effectively in a fight.Its muuuuch better than bare hands,its light enough to not impair you,but heavy enough to shatter someones skull.There is only one reason to ever throw a gun away,and that is if you find a better gun.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          This.
          In my home town, a woman and her two children were killed in their home by a stranger with a pistol… and no bullets. He didn’t have a scratch. Pistol whip is super deadly. “But it’s a fist fight” is no reason to drop a gun.

        • syal says:

          In the movies I’ve seen, they’re always throwing the guns to draw other, loaded guns. Or doing stupid macho stuff because it’s macho and stupid.

          Not nearly enough movies have hand-to-hand fight scenes with empty pistols.

        • Joe Informatico says:

          I was thinking more about picking up another loaded weapon (say off of a corpse), or climbing ladders and fences, or vaulting over crates and railings and such, where a free hand would be handy. But that’s a valid point.

        • Tom says:

          Some old-timey (18th century & earlier, I think) muzzle-loading pistols used to have a big heavy metal ball on the butt, or at least a flared metal buttplate, for exactly this purpose. You get one shot, then you use the butt to bash people, reversing your grip to form a club if necessary. Other designs had folding or retractable miniature bayonets; more recently (19th & early 20th century), I think trigger-guards in the form of knuckledusters were an option.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      A strange weapon degradation system is in Silent Hill: Origins.

      Weapons degradation hardly matters, since weapons are incredibly numerous. However, melee weapons themselves are almost unnecessary; all but the largest enemies can be stunlocked by your bare fists. Travis Grady can easily pugilism his way across the town, hoarding a stash of the most powerful weapons and ammunition for anything larger than himself.

      And your New Game+ reward for defeating a certain number of enemies with fists is a pair of gauntlets that make your punches even deadlier. It made me want an alternate costume that was nothing but a striped leotard and a handlebar mustache.

  3. Thomas says:

    Oh no, as much as the weapon degradation is stupid in this game it’s absolutely vital to how the gameplay feels. The game would be a lot worse without it.

    The thing is, there is absolutely no way of entering combat in The Last of Us without it costing you. It’s what I fell in love with (after the AI). Every time you fire a gun you’re consuming valuable resources, every person who you decide to whack with a bat costs you another resource. If you try to spare your bullets, or punch people instead of using a bat, you take health damage which consumes yet another resource.

    I hate weapon degradation in games like Fallout and all that, it’s really annoying and achieves nothing. This isn’t true here, combat is all about balancing resources against the potential loss of health and it creates a world where you feel every moment of survival costs you. In turn the consumption of resources forces you to explore the world and seek out little doodads and the rest.

    If meleeing was indestructable then you’d try to game the fights by not using the gun and so not losing resources. This makes it so there’s always a cost.

    There’s always enough melee weapons to avoid unwillable situations, but the mechanics in this game and this game only (Seriously other games, do not copy this) fit really well with all the other systems

    • ET says:

      Don’t you tell me to not copy TLoU! I need my future laser guns to degrade near-instantly, or else my Von Braum won’t feel realistic! ^^;

    • Thomas says:

      Oh I forgot another reason why weapon degradation is kick-ass in this game. Fights in The Last of Us are full of a lot of moment to moment variation, and weapon degradation is part of that. You don’t do one thing for the whole of the fight, instead you’ll shoot some people, tussle with someone against a wall, get blown back, whip out your shotgun…

      The weapon degradation is part of that. You can’t sit back and think ‘I’m going to whack every single zombie to death’ because most weapons only last for one or two kills. So you conk a couple of zombies on the head and suddenly you’ve got no melee weapon in hand and have to devise a new strategy for that zombie whose running at you…

      Its another way of creating that feeling of panicked resourcefulness the combat is full of

      EDIT: This is also what makes it really different from weapon degradation in other games. In stuff like Fallout, it’s a long term thing that might annoy you and force you to shuffle through menus in a long fight. In The Last of Us it’s super short term that only effects you in a fight and the combat system is built around frantically changing weapons on the fly

      (Similarly, each gun only really has enough bullets to last oneish encounters which is really different to how ammo capacity is normally balanced in other games)

      • Carlos Castillo says:

        The wooden plank, makes perfect sense that it breaks, as it’s not designed to receive force the way it’s used as a weapon. Also considering the unpopulated (by humans) areas you travel through, you are using 20-year old planks of wood (or older).

        Baseball bats (wooden ones at least) can break striking baseballs, ie: the very thing they are meant to be used against. Against harder objects, such as skulls, or accidentally hitting the walls and floors, this becomes more likely. Also, when wielded as a weapon, instead of a sport implement, a person will use different strikes (eg: downward), allowing use their weight to their advantage, putting more stress on the bat. Again, new bats from recently cut trees seems even less likely to be found in civilization, let alone the wilderness.

        The edged weapons have another realistic analogue aside from edge-dulling, which is that the weapon can easily get stuck in the opponent, making the mostly undamaged weapon still useless especially in the middle of combat. It may be harder to justify an exact # of hits this way but it’s still usable as an abstraction.

        The only real outlier is the metal pipe, which at best will bend/dent, and is still usable even when damaged. This is reflected in the fact that it does have the most “durability”, and is not like the edged weapons it that it doesn’t insta-kill.

        Obviously, some “realism” is lost considering that it takes one health unit away from the weapon, and you don’t kill with non-edged weapons in one hit in most situations, so the wooden plank often doesn’t survive long enough to kill more than one person, the bat 2, and the pipes (if you’re lucky) can kill 3. But it’s more an issue of scale than possibility. Like many things in the adventure, time is compressed, your flashlight batteries die faster, and it takes significantly less time than the 20 or so hours of the game to cross the country.

    • Humanoid says:

      Power Fists needed energy cells, so there’s that.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Indeed,but see people notice it and complain about it because of how realistic they try to make everything.Its tough to balance abstraction with looking as realistic as you possibly can.Its even tougher if you dont hold the controller.

  4. Re: Rusty ceramic cups.

    I think someone gave themselves away as a non-coffee drinker there, if they think ceramic cups can’t stain over a few years, never mind 20 (which is how old the roof & pipes are, BTW).

    • Tizzy says:

      Come on… You know that Shamus drinks tea, and even if it doesn’t stain as fast as coffee, it still does. He must be aware of that fact.

      • Maybe not. In a Fallout New Vegas episode of Spoiler Warning, he was incredulous that coffee cups could last 200 years after a nuclear war because he said he couldn’t get a coffee cup to remain intact for more than a year.

        Maybe he should switch to mugs made of Pyrex?

      • The Rocketeer says:

        I thought Shamus switched to tea after realizing that all the caffeine he was drinking, and the withdrawal, was driving him insane.

        I don’t know if that means soda or coffee, but I always assumed coffee.

        • I think you’re right. But anyone who’s ever used household receptacles in their garage/workshop knows that rust will stain just about anything in short order.

          Or if you have old steel pipes, your sink is likely awash in orange, even with the help of Billy Mays products.

  5. Regarding zombies and their origins: This is what I liked when I read the sourcebook for the RPG, “All Flesh Must Be Eaten.” It’s a pen-and-paper zombie RPG, but a large part of the book is devoted to eight or so different sources of zombies. What I liked about this was that it allowed the GM to use one (or come up with their own) that put the players in a typical survival situation but they wouldn’t necessarily know where the zombies were coming from, how they were created, and possibly how to ultimately defeat them.

    In a way, I don’t think we’re tired of zombies per se. I think we’re tired of zombies without a kind of backstory or thought as to what they’re about. It’s like how orcs are the staple for medieval fantasy games, but they’re still accepted because games nowadays try to give them a culture (usually a clone of being Klingon), personality, and maybe even some goals.

    Zombies can still be fun, but they need something to do or a reason to be a part of the story and not just be yet another mook. They’re kind of like the Alien Xenomorph in that way. The video games and movies have lost what makes the aliens scary or interesting, yet Dark Horse Comics came up with LOADS of cool stories involving them that actually used the monsters in new ways.

    • Tizzy says:

      World of Darkness had an antagonist sourcebook which had the whole first third devoted to zombies, and this way before the current craze, too. Once again, the emphasis was put on the various combinations you could make (very WoD, so with point systems, of course!). Pretty cool, and great flavor text too.

  6. Tizzy says:

    I really like the “Green Hell” feel of the world. It really sells the whole apocalypse thing more realistically than many things I’ve seen in any medium. It made it feel right in ways that are hard to express into words.

    Though, to be nitpicky, the vestiges of human-built things should be infinitely more degraded 20 years in. Dramatic license…

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, an otherwise fairly rote console action-platformer, had a similar post-apocalyptic setting. And this was 2010, so it really stood out from all the other brown and grey AAA titles.

      EDIT: And quickly checking Wikipedia, it looks like the TLOU project lead brought on Enslaved’s lead designer specifically. So it’s no coincidence.

  7. ET says:

    Re: Invisible walls at the edges of cliffs.

    This really is sloppy, especially for a game this visually realistic, where they also took the time to put in procedural “oh hey, you’re by a desk, you get to smash the man’s face into it” detection. I mean, detecting the player is beside a cliff is really about the same amount of work, and the animation should be easier, since it involves animating one human character (Joel) instead of two. (Joel + bad guy)

    • Thomas says:

      I think something overly obvious would have done more harm than good. It’d be fine if you’re setting it off deliberately, but all those times when you accidentally go close to edge and then have to watch a canned animation of someone wobbling would be terrible.

      Shifting weight or something subtle like Shamus’ flinching suggestion was something they should have done though. Both The Last of Us and Uncharted 3 already have animations where the character sometimes rests their weight a little against walls or touches doorways as they walk through them

      • Hmm… would a canned “looking over the edge” animation/stance be a better solution? If you get too close to the edge of a cliff, your avatar could kneel down, maybe putting a hand on the edge of the precipice and look out over the edge. Pushing the control to make them walk forward even more would make them look down into the abyss.

        That way you get feedback to your action and a reason that you’re not deciding to take up fatal high-diving as a hobby.

        • Thomas says:

          I love that idea, especially if it doesn’t really kick in until you’re seriously pushing into the edge. If it adjusts the camera with the animation then it even feels like you’re actually doing something which stops it from even being an invisible wall. When you try to troll the game you just end up taking part in it more

        • Robyrt says:

          Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed both do this heavily. The Prince even has a special “whoah!” sound effect to signal “This is a bad cliff, I won’t jump off it.”

          • Having not played those games, do those animations ever affect combat? I mean, if the game doesn’t prioritize combat/dodging over “whoa!” I could see it being a kind of stunlock when you’re trying to bash a mook over the head.

            That’s probably the biggest hurdle, making them add to the verisimilitude without causing problems elsewhere.

  8. Hang on…

    A world overrun by fungi and plants. Lots of square obstacles to be jumped on or over…

    Is this game a prequel to Super Mario Bros.?

    • Thomas says:

      And later in the game Ellie’s starts developing the ‘jump on people’s heads to kill them’ technique =D

    • syal says:

      This all ends when the hero discovers that turtles can safely eat the fungus and builds an army of them to stop the plague.

      • Ciennas says:

        But lays the groundwork for the sequel when you are forced to fight the first of the turtles you recruited to your army, Boomer, after he succumbs to a mutation that leaves him an angry sapient fire breathing turtle with a fetish for blond girls in pink dresses…

        Also, two new strains of fungal zombie appear: a malevolent fungoid that is poisonous to touch with limted mobility (Though some grow wings!) and a benevolent version where the fungus has turned into a friendly and non virulent approximation of the humans it had been gleefully corrupting. With heads and pigtails displaying the mushroomy heritage the most prominently…

  9. Abnaxis says:

    I’m not sure what I think of the fragile pipe.

    For one…at least one of the zombies was wearing armor, at least riot gear. Which…uh…kind brings up the question of “how did he do enough damage to kill a zombie in riot gear with a pipe?” but stormtrooper armor is ubiquitous enough to not look to closely at this.

    Second, I’m not really sure how well pipe would actually hold up under the strain of being used to bludgeon. On the one hand, I’ve worked with old pipes that literally disintegrated as I was loosening the nuts on them, though they were probably older than 20 years at the time. Additionally, there are lots of materials that pipes can be made from that aren’t much for being sturdy as a weapon, like aluminum or brass, but they still have heft.

    On the other hand, it DOES seem pretty ridiculous that you only get six smacks before the thing gives out. I dunno, I’d be willing to let it slide as a video game abstraction, at least as much as I do tunnel-vision-impaired enemies and using homegrown potted Mary Jane plants for upgrades (duuuude, I am SO MUCH BETTER at beating zombies when I’m high!).

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Out of curiosity, do you reckon those pipes you handled would deteriorate faster if they weren’t in an intact building with functioning climate control?

      My own house is less than 10 years old, and most of the plumbing I can see is either vinyl hose or PVC pipe. Is PVC more likely to last than various metals?

      • Epopisces says:

        Last, yes, be effective as a weapon, no.

        My brother and I used PVC piping as swords when we were re-enacting lightsaber fights as kids (we’ll pretend ‘kid’ is the accurate age descriptor, and shush, you know you’ve done it too). We did this for several years, storing the pipes in bins in the garage. One thing we noticed was that they stood up to weather fine, even when left outdoors for a winter. However they turned brittle, and snapped really easily when you hit someone with them :D

      • Boston is an older city, so they might have more galvanized steel pipe (which is prone to rust, if one wants to justify it breaking). Also, metal pipe is still used in construction, though I’m not sure if it’s all for plumbing. The city I live in has a metal pipe factory of some kind near its riverfront, I believe, so it’s not all PVC. I think in home construction, PVC is preferred for some things just because it’s easy to work with and replace if needed. One plumber I hired said he liked copper for the water lines, PVC for the drains.

        • Joe Informatico says:

          Yeah, it’s mostly the drains I can see in my unfinished basement, and they’re all PVC. The water main is definitely some kind of metal, but then has vinyl hose heading up into the upper floor walls, and the hot water tank has a combination of copper pipes, brass valves, and vinyl hose going on.

      • evileeyore says:

        The primary metal for household piping is copper (because it lasts longer than other metals and standard household plumbing isn’t under as much stress as industrial plumbing). Copper tends to corrode and wear out much faster than PVC though (also it’s more expensive)… so for household piping, PVC is better.

        EDIT: Copper also has anti-bacterial properties due to it’s metallic alignment or something (which is why it’s preferred for water lines). I don’t know, ask a Chemist.

        However, pound for pound, nice thick copper piping is better for bludgeoning people with. It may bend a bit, but hey, it’s copper.

        If you’ve got your choice? I’d go with a nice Brass Pipe, straight for about 18 inches then a 90 degree angle bend on the end for weight. Yeah, that’s a skull cracker.

        What? I uh, used to work in industrial plumbing. Yeah, that’s how I know this stuff…

        • Decius says:

          1-inch nominal OD schedule 80 steel pipe.

          There’s a good argument at that point that it’s not really a pipe anymore. Said pipe will win any such arguments, but not by transporting any fluid.

        • Electrical conduit can also be made of steel pipe, for what it’s worth.

        • Abnaxis says:

          The primary metal for household piping is copper (because it lasts longer than other metals and standard household plumbing isn’t under as much stress as industrial plumbing). Copper tends to corrode and wear out much faster than PVC though (also it’s more expensive)… so for household piping, PVC is better.

          That, and people keep stripping copper out of houses for scrap. Anymore, installing PVC is an anti-theft measure…

          Bearing in mind that while I know a bit about materials, I’m not a plumber, PVC is indeed better for indoor pipe, but it doesn’t hold up outside or buried in the ground. For that you need metal pipe.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The last episode had an even more ridiculous moment,where you kill a soldier by stomping on their riot helmet(and not even cracking it).

  10. IFS says:

    I remember another LP I watched of TLOU the LPers always referred to those pills as Joel’s vitamins, which I found an amusing explanation of how they function to upgrade his physical ability (not necessarily a realistic one, but whatever).

  11. Ofermod says:

    Weapon degradation works pretty well in the Fire Emblem games, but those are also a bit more abstract than something like this.

    • Boison says:

      Yeah, it’s a cool mechanic there.

      FE degradation seems much more fair, since it’s scaled more believably. Lose one durability per fight, with durability in the 25-40 range for normal weapons, and 5-10 for crazy powerful ones. It means that you don’t really have to worry that much, and it just becomes a background layer of choice for the combat system. Makes you not use your sword-of-legendary-power-handed-down-through-generations on a random pirate or whatever.

  12. Protocol95 says:

    Regarding the bit about the motion control used for the flashlight. Perhaps the uncommon use of the Sixaxis is a small benefit for it. If all of a sudden a flashlight were to go out in real life the average person would think, “What a pain” and spend a brief moment of mild annoyance fixing the problem. This is also what would happen to the average player right. Something mildly recurring, quickly forgotten, but something to keep wary of. A small bit of immersion.

    I don’t think I worded that properly. Sorry.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Yeah, I think they were going for immersion, because I don’t think Sony ever pushed the Sixaxis that hard. Most developers ignored it. It always felt like a last-minute addition to the PS3 to jump on the Wii bandwagon, but I only remember a handful of games early in the PS3’s life cycle actually making use of it, mostly indie-style art games.

      Naughty Dog is one of the few major exceptions, and in Uncharted it was just frustrating (aiming grenades or something stupid like that). In contrast, this is just a nice environmental touch reminding you that things are pretty unreliable in this setting.

  13. Fawstoar says:

    So far, even though the game is supposedly set in Boston, I haven’t noticed anything that differentiates the setting from any other American city (speaking as someone who’s grown up in the area). None of the voice actors so far have local accents and there aren’t really any major landmarks or signs of familiarity that I’ve noticed… seems like kind of a missed opportunity, though maybe the point is that the game could be set anywhere. The setting was one of the main reasons I was initially interested in this game, since Boston is just small enough to be excluded from most triple-A titles but still large and diverse enough to provide an excellent backdrop for this sort of post-apocalyptic narrative.

    • Thomas says:

      They go to the City Hall or something at some point, but they don’t stay in Boston long, they’ll be travelling eventually to Utah and stop at a few other places on the way. I don’t know my American geography so I don’t know if it’s ever meant to show anything

  14. Chris says:

    The Runners are impossible to fear, they behave entirely too much like the mooks at the end of Deus Ex Human Revolution.
    However you can call them Clickers, I call them nightmare fuel.

    I’m not sure how much this area does or does not resemble Boston, but I’d like it if the building’s design was better at conveying what purpose it used to serve. Was it an office, and if so what kind? Sure we didn’t enter by the front door but there are certain kinds of debris that I’d expect to see more of. Or is the reason there are still freshly killed humans around because buildings like this are being/have been picked over by scavengers?

    Side-note, I like how the heavy objects Joel has to move are obstructing doors and passages. My first thought was to be annoyed at the generic block-the-path thing until it occurred to me that they were probably put there by humans trying to blockade the monsters.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,a huge ass dumpster?No prob,spin that sucker in place like nothing.A small shelf table?Yeah,put your whole weight into it son,its rusty.

    Now dont get me wrong,that thing blocking the door looks heavy,and with rusted wheels,so I like that joel puts his weight into moving it.It makes sense.But that feather light dumpster earlier sure couldve used the same treatment.

    • Ciennas says:

      That dumpster was part of a pilot program for carbon fiber nano tubule equipped dumpsters with electromagnetic antigravity plating. Sadly, the apocalypse prevented the project from being fully deployed, so it’s just that one.

  16. The Rocketeer says:

    Everything about resource conservation and damage and mechanics comes down to this:

    1: This game wants to seem realistic, but
    2: Realistic violence is not balanced, ergo
    3: The game chooses fun over verisimilitude.

    Is that for the best? Yeah, probably. We aren’t making The Long Dark, here.

    • Classic says:

      There’s one other factor to these “errors” that I’m coming across more often lately.

      Sometimes, media is made unrealistic to better conform to the preconceptions of the target audience. The game-playing target audience is so divorced from the realities of violence and breakdowns of infrastructure that weapon charges or degradation systems seem “unrealistic” (which is an idiot complaint that gets my blood pressure up for other reasons) while the ability to recover from wounds is not.

      Granted, this particular kind of ignorance is probably a good thing. It still pisses me off when armchair experts proclaim incorrect stuff on the internet.

      • Otters34 says:

        So violence is unrealistic, that’s a very good attitude.

        • Classic says:

          Do you mean to prove the corollary that people would rather impose their ignorance on the world around them than consider another person’s words on a topic?

          Or are you trying to suggest that the way violence is portrayed in media is as accurate as it should be?

          I’m trying to read your reply as anything but being a smug jerk, and I’m drawing a blank.

          • Otters34 says:

            No, that reading is as close to the truth as I think possible. Actually all of those fit.

            Portraying violence realistically is pointless, because of how much more variable something as simple as two guys fighting with clubs in knee-high mud is in reality than fiction. It’s already at the point where combat-focused games are some of the most expensive in existence, and most game systems are aimed squarely at ‘what SHOULD happen’ instead of the far messier ‘what WOULD happen’. By now it should already be perfectly clear to our hosts that how The Last of Us handles violent encounters is more about the game’s tone and style than any kind of ‘reality’ outside emotional reality. Yes, I think how fiction displays people fighting is as close as it ever needs to be to reality. In fact I think it could take a few steps back. Like several fives of steps.

            I am a smug jerk. A shock.

            And finally yes, I am totally in favor of ignorant opinions eclipsing both other opinions and observations of physical reality. Especially in the case of depicting fictional violence.

  17. Talby says:

    I want an entire skill tree for the brick. I want my fully upgraded brick to catch on fire when I throw it and bounce between multiple enemies, setting each of them on fire before it explodes and then returns to my hand.

  18. Mr Compassionate says:

    Actually you say it’s not good for gameplay but having your melle weapon break on a guy’s face half way through a chaotic fistycuffs is pretty fun because it then transitions suddenly into either pulling out a gun and point-blanking them or violently brawling them. It’s actually kinda works.

    • Thomas says:

      I need to learn lessons in clarity. You said more clearly in three lines what would have taken three paragraphs to communicate =D

    • Ivan says:

      On one hand,I feel like things break apart way too quickly, but on the other hand, if you were to give them more hp then they would break too infrequently for the player to get used to the system. It still feels really weird in a realistic game but it feels right for a survival game (which tend towards recreating realistic survival scenarios). Maybe you could have contrived a system where Joel is constantly getting disarmed but that just might end up looking comedic with the number of times it would happen, maybe it could be pulled off though. Anyway it’s an interesting situation where the setting and mechanics are both at odds and complimentary at the same time.

      • syal says:

        It could be something like the fungus blood being sticky, so after a certain number of hits it’s effectively caked with glue and you can’t get it back when you swing it anymore.

  19. Human bodies aren’t mattresses–there are some VERY hard things in there. Heck, I’ve snapped a metal spoon just trying to get ice cream out of a paper container.

    Not all “metal” is created equal. Neither are all baseball bats. Granted, that doesn’t make weapon degradation a fun gameplay mechanic, and it wouldn’t work like that, anyway. You can hit someone 1000 times with a weapon and never damage it. Then comes the 1001st time and you catch some particularly hard bone just right and blam, you’re holding a now-useless piece of junk. Or, if you’re unlucky, the very 1st time–particularly if it’s an improvised weapon or something you found lying on the ground.

    I tend to prefer systems where breaking/jamming your weapon is like a critical fumble. It CAN happen, but it’s rare. The more complex the weapon is, the more likely this should be to happen (but it shouldn’t destroy the weapon, usually). And, on the other end of the spectrum, there should be some weapons that are so simple and sturdy (like, say, a steel pipe) that breaking them in the normal course of things is just not going to happen. But maybe you could still bust them if you, say, attempt to use them to kill a tank.

  20. Andy says:

    Joel is obviously a member of the International Brick Collector’s Association.

    As the son of an avid IBCA member, this sort of picking-up-random-bricks behavior seems perfectly unremarkable.

    (What?! Nobody made a “few bricks shy of a full load” comment?)

  21. guy says:

    In addition to the jacket thing, I notice that Joel and Tess aren’t wearing gas masks. When we know that the disease spreads by airborne spores and they own gas masks.

  22. Isy says:

    Has anyone in this universe ever just carpeted the area with fungicides? That seems like a better solution to fungus-zombies than carpet bombing.

  23. Da Mage says:

    On the topic of building degradation, just think of the abandoned military housing that is about places….ones I’ve seen have gone without maintenance for decades and they are still standing…even if they are a bit overgrown. I could see skyscrapers and officeblocks being much easier to fall apart…but small housing? shouldn’t have much problem staying around.

  24. Blake says:

    We’re getting closer to the point of the game where I gave up on it now.
    That fight Josh did at the end of this episode took me at least 10 attempts, I didn’t go into that side room Josh did first so every time I tried to distract a zombie I ended up with 3 runners and a clicker all in melee distance, my weapon would break and I’d get eaten.

    I kept sticking with the game until the church thing but by that time I knew I hadn’t enjoyed any of the combat I’d come across sincethat first section with the gun smugglers and just wished there was a way to skip the combat sections and enjoy the good parts of the game.

  25. Tektotherriggen says:

    I think you’re wrong about the fungus/plant analogy, Shamus. True, a lot of people think of fungi as a kind of plant, but they have very different cultural meanings. Plants have good associations – life, growth, beauty, food. Fungi have negative associations – death, decay, poison. I think this is true even though everyone knows there are tasty, nutritious fungi, and deadly poisonous plants.

    Equally, I think we’re now used to the idea that a zombie-causing disease would NOT be natural. Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, The Maze Runner and probably many others, all have the disease being man-made either deliberately or accidentally. Indeed, I kind of assumed that during the first episode or two of this season.

    So when I see the buildings covered in plants, it doesn’t seem “thematic” any more than it did in Portal 2. If anything, it gives a hopeful vibe – if nature thrives, so can humanity, eventually.

    [Disclaimer – I haven’t played the game, just watched the videos so far]

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