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Single player DLC for story based games is a tricky one. The best stories are usually self contained and any attempt to try to add to that later always seem below par or rather pointless. Add to the fact that it comes eight months after the game’s release and doesn’t involve the main protagonist you would think this would be a recipe for disaster. Well Naughty Dog doesn’t care. With Left Behind, they have just delivered the best DLC since Rockstar’s releases for Grand Theft Auto IV. If you enjoyed The Last of Us in any shape or form, I highly recommend you to play this release. I promise you won’t regret it.
Left Behind shows us a different side to Ellie, one that further adds to the character and proves that this can’t be the last we see of her. She’s just too good for Naughty Dog to not include in the inevitable sequel. This time Ellie is joined by Riley, a character we previously only saw in the excellent prequel comics that were released. Set before the events of the main game, this is not the battle hardened Ellie we knew by the end of our time, but more fresh faced and innocent to the world around her.
Most of the game involves Ellie and Riley exploring an abandoned mall and plays out just like two teenage girls visiting a familiar place, of course set against a post-apocalyptic world. We see just how close the two were and the chemistry between them as they playfully make fun of one another and tell jokes. We see how the simplest things can cause such joy like playing around with water guns. This game is filled with touching moments like these that are best experienced for yourself.
Of course it wouldn’t be The Last of Us without some conflict and it plays out similarly to that of the main game. However this time instead of just fighting infected or survivors we come across both at the same time, something that wasn’t present before. This small change does have a big impact on how scenarios play out and is something that I really hope they build upon in the future of the series. Throwing a brick near some approaching survivors so they get attacked by infected and then slowly picking off what is left of the battle feels fantastic. Especially as Ellie who would rather avoid combat than Joel who isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty.
Speaking of Joel, this game does slightly lack due to his absence but not as much as I expected. To me, Joel is one of the all time great protagonists so he would have always been missed, but Riley and Ellie’s relationship as friends who have seen better times fills the void perfectly that is left by the lack of the father/daughter dynamic that progressed previously.
Left Behind isn’t afraid to pull punches and contains many moments that will shock and surprise you. Of course talking about them here wouldn’t be fair, but if you thought the opening of the game couldn’t be topped, I think they may have done it. Never becoming cheesy or shocking for the sake of it, everything plays out the way you would expect and the way the characters should react and is a fine addition to what is becoming an incredible video game story. If you were worried this DLC would feel sub standard to the main game, fear not.
Once again the game is absolutely stunning to look at and the different locations are beautifully well created. Perhaps the game’s crowning achievement is that of its voice acting, arguably the greatest the medium has ever seen. Riley is an exceptional new character and my only complaint is that it took this long for us to see her. Ellie is even better here than she was previously and it seems obvious she is the star of the show going forward for the franchise.
Some will feel short changed by the game’s length which only took me two hours to finish, but I don’t agree. As the end credits rolled I was left both fulfilled and wanting more. This is perfect as I am now even more interested in a sequel than I was before, hoping that everything we have experienced both here and in the main game will continue. The main game’s final moments now have even more resonance and I’m excited to see how Ellie’s story will continue. Left Behind is definitely worth the price of admission and is the perfect way to close this chapter or to start the next one. Now I’m left dying to find out what happens next.