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Thread: The Last of Us 2

  1. #1

    Default The Last of Us 2

    **POTENTIAL SPOILERS - though there aren't specific ones in this first post.


    Yeah, I know, whoever still cares about this has probably talked about it somewhere else and this forum is deader than dead, but those who still loiter around here seem to like discussing stories, so this one seems like a no-brainer.

    I've never played this game or the first (never owned a Playstation) but I've watched Let's Plays of both enough to get a good feel of the story.

    I agree with most that TLOU 2' story has structural problems: namely plotting and pacing (and it's length). Despite that, I could follow it and could see what the writer was trying to get at. Thing is, not many others could. Even if some did "get it", they disagreed with it on justifiable reasons or felt it wasn't earnt/built up to it. Or worse, that the whole thing was a meaningless/pointless affair. For one, some enjoy the parallel beats and allusions to the first game whilst others deride it as "samey" and unoriginal.

    It makes me wonder whether some of this ambiguity was by design/intended. If so, it seems like a bad case of it in contrast to the first game's use of ambiguity where it better matched it's themes of survival and responsibility. Even now, it's hard to know what theme TLOU2 was going for other than the consequences of revenge, which it essentially told twice. There's definitely more ludonarrative dissonance (disconnect between what the gameplay and story is telling us) in THLOU2 than the first one in that it makes you want to feel bad about killing all these people out of some misguided vengeance but then gloryifying it through the gameplay and through the casual dismissal of named character deaths throughout it's story. Spec Ops The Line this definitely ain't.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    Ultra-violent gameplay and an anti-violence narrative fundamentally don’t mix. In other news: the sky is blue.

    Pretentious nonsense like this is why I prefer satire and black comedy.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    I don't think it's an anti-violence stance they're peddling, just that the death and killing of any enemy aside from the "infected" is supposed to have meaning/consequence. They telegraph this by having the mooks lament and calling out the name of the person (or a dog even) the PC just killed. But then throughout the story, there are some named NPCs who you meet, accompany you and kind of get to know who later "bite the dust" and there's no acknowledgement nor lingering over their deaths. It also makes the reason and the final decision of the PC in the final conflict towards a certain character seem like a deus ex machina to a lot of people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    Pretentious nonsense like this is why I prefer satire and black comedy.
    Careful there, don't think you meant to come across as a hypocritical edgelord there by inferring you're above it all. Or, maybe you are?

    Also, "pretentious nonsense" is black comedy in it's own way if you think about it. It's just that it's unintentional/unaware of being so. Haha.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    those who still loiter around here seem to like discussing stories, so this one seems like a no-brainer.
    Yeah that's kinda interesting. That starcraft led to discussions about stories. You could even call this a... Starcraft Legacy.. YEAHHHHHHHHH

    I've never played this game or the first (never owned a Playstation) but I've watched Let's Plays of both enough to get a good feel of the story.

    I agree with most that TLOU 2' story has structural problems: namely plotting and pacing (and it's length). Despite that, I could follow it and could see what the writer was trying to get at. Thing is, not many others could. Even if some did "get it", they disagreed with it on justifiable reasons or felt it wasn't earnt/built up to it. Or worse, that the whole thing was a meaningless/pointless affair. For one, some enjoy the parallel beats and allusions to the first game whilst others deride it as "samey" and unoriginal.

    It makes me wonder whether some of this ambiguity was by design/intended. If so, it seems like a bad case of it in contrast to the first game's use of ambiguity where it better matched it's themes of survival and responsibility. Even now, it's hard to know what theme TLOU2 was going for other than the consequences of revenge, which it essentially told twice. There's definitely more ludonarrative dissonance (disconnect between what the gameplay and story is telling us) in THLOU2 than the first one in that it makes you want to feel bad about killing all these people out of some misguided vengeance but then gloryifying it through the gameplay and through the casual dismissal of named character deaths throughout it's story. Spec Ops The Line this definitely ain't.
    I wasn't really wowed in part 1(it was "alright") and I'm fairly tired of the zombie premise by now so I'll probably skip it. I did watch a youtube vid that explained the controversy though so the story has been spoiled which I guess makes me even less interested in playing lol. From what I saw, I can understand why people think it's bad and I'd probably side with them on paper.

    With that said, lets not forget that the experience of watching/reading a game's story is very different than playing the game and you just can't emulate that same feeling. For example, the gameplay portion can serve as a tension builder which then lead to the cinematic climax. In most cases, watching the walkthrough without playing the game is like solely watching the ending of a movie and skipping the rest. That is true even if you do watch the gameplay portion as well. I'm saying this because story points could look pointless or off on paper but can actually still be interesting while you play.

    Then again, I suppose there are story points that are so dumb, no amount of gameplay can save them (throwback to when hots ending was leaked). Seems like most of what Abby does is in that category iirc. So I guess all I can say is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  5. #5
    The_Blade's Avatar Administrator
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    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    lol I'm up for discussing anything with 5-6 persons rather than 100.

    *spoilers ahead*

    TLOU2 sucked for me at a narrative level, because it wanted me to care about a psychopathic character by forcing her "goodness" down my throat. Playing through the Abby parts just felt devoid of motivation. I really did not care for her emotions or her later difficulties. She is just a shit person. Contrasting her actions with Ellie's was even more infuriating as both were on the revenge theme, yet you could justify Ellie's. I am not mad that Joel had to bite the dust, it works as the core idea of the game; but having us play his killer was just brutal from a fan base perspective. Moreover, half the game was Abby content. The ending is what finally makes me drop the rating by quite a few marks. There's no logical, emotional, or gameplay reason for her not to kill Abby. Overall, Ellie is a "good person" and Joel tough her that despite being "good" one must act assertively to protect others and be smart about the cruel world they now live in. It's like painting morality from the real world into the fake one, just like in the later seasons of GoT.

    At a gameplay level, I felt that the universe was twisted around itself in the same ugly way The Walking Dead became a shit show. Clickers and infected became irrelevant, and failed to adapt as a threat. You can kill at least tree times more infected on TLOU2 than in TLOU. As well, the humans were exaggerated into unreal factions/motivation. Tura's mention of the killjoy feeling is also correct. You also get to kill so many characters for the sake of dramatization. So, even having named characters affiliated with Abby die had little impact towards the audience and made her character look even more careless of her allies.

    Finally, I believe there was already a negative bias from the general TLOU community after all the false advertising, fake narratives, and focus on Ellie's sexuality during the 2 years prior to launch.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    I did watch a youtube vid that explained the controversy though so the story has been spoiled which I guess makes me even less interested in playing lol. From what I saw, I can understand why people think it's bad and I'd probably side with them on paper.
    Most of the "controversy" is about a specific plot element (ie: the death of a particular character) and the usual accusations of "agenda driven media" what with the representation of "minorities" (be it of race, gender, sexual orientation or even body shape) which don't really hold any water since they're all largely down to subjective preference anwyay (which you can't argue objectively). A good story should still hold up even with it being spoiled since the "element of surprise" shouldn't be the only thing that keeps a story compelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    With that said, lets not forget that the experience of watching/reading a game's story is very different than playing the game and you just can't emulate that same feeling. For example, the gameplay portion can serve as a tension builder which then lead to the cinematic climax. In most cases, watching the walkthrough without playing the game is like solely watching the ending of a movie and skipping the rest. That is true even if you do watch the gameplay portion as well. I'm saying this because story points could look pointless or off on paper but can actually still be interesting while you play.
    I agree on some principle but given the story of the game is actually presented more like a movie/tv-show, you can actually skip all the fighting or finding of random letters designed to build the world and still feel the story better by just watching all the character interactions and cinematics. Indeed, part of the ludonarrative dissonance (and one of the actual problems of the story) is due to the gameplay seemingly glorifying the amount of death that Ellie deals (or at the least, being indifferent to it) which conflicts with her seemingly being worried when killing certain named characters (who are still her enemies no less) in the cinematics.

    The way the story is structured is also the reason why people feel unmotivated to actually play it (ie: controlling Abby considering after what she did at the start of the story). I don't think the writers factored/realised the power of that particular plot point and how that could've impacted how one could experience the rest of the story when they were developing/putting it together.

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    TLOU2 sucked for me at a narrative level, because it wanted me to care about a psychopathic character by forcing her "goodness" down my throat. Playing through the Abby parts just felt devoid of motivation. I really did not care for her emotions or her later difficulties. She is just a shit person.
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    I am not mad that Joel had to bite the dust, it works as the core idea of the game; but having us play his killer was just brutal from a fan base perspective.
    It's kinda funny because not having played the original (but watched a full Let's Play of it more than once, strangely enough), I probably don't have that sense of attachment/that nostalgia for Joel and I believe that most of the resentment of Abby as a character (and how this affects how one views her section when you get to control her later) is due to her being the cause of his death almost essentially at the start of the game. I think Abby would've been better received if the story structure had the game focus on Abby from the beginning - showing her tragic backstory (of which Joel is responsible for) and then building/climaxing to the eventual death of Joel as the mid-point (or first third) of the game. It's doubly weird because I actually think Abby's story is actually stronger (and it's clear the writers want to make you feel for her), effective and more understandable than Ellie's story when you cast subjective preference (read: dislike) aside.

    Abbie is the unintended consequence of Joel's actions in the first game and that the sequel also frames her in a way that she is essentially an expy of Joel (in that they suffer a tragic loss initially, become consumed by it but slowly becomes a better person through the help of another) is quite a clever story idea in that it evokes the first game in a subtle way. Course, there's nothing stopping one from also seeing this as repetitious and derivative of the first one, but then again, we are looking at a sequel and sequels bank on nostalgia and allusions to the previous entry since they're purpose is to provide something same and different at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    Contrasting her actions with Ellie's was even more infuriating as both were on the revenge theme, yet you could justify Ellie's.
    But there's a difference in both of these revenge stories, one has the character finding a way out of it and one being lost to it. Like I said, Abby's story parallels Joel's in the first game in that she actually gets better and is, chronologically, the first of the two to actually let go of her revenge. She only gets back to it when she discovers Elly had killed her friend and unavailable lover only to be spared from total damnation (wilfully killing a pregnant woman)/redeemed by Lev (an expy of Ellie in the first game) and stays that way right up until the end of the game.

    Ellie in TLOU2 is actually quite sketchy in her motivation throughout the story (largely because it relies on flashbacks that force you to recontextualise/rethink on the what and why of things that you've already played through). It makes sense at first because yeah, Joel is murdered in front of her, but she actually devolves and becomes more apathetic about her killing and less "likeable" - which is another reason why people who have a preference for that character dislike this development. Indeed, her depiction is inconsistent when you think she's supposed hesitance at killing is in distinct contrast with her actions in the game. She mercilessly kills tens of mooks but in the cinematic she quivers and shakes killing some named characters that she wanted to kill from the start but then doesn't get nightmares of those afterward. Her PTSD later on is only because of Joel dying brutally in front of her and not for murdering a bunch of people out of revenge. In light of this devolution, her final decision at the end is the "cherry on top" of this messed up characterisation (as discussed below).

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    Moreover, half the game was Abby content. The ending is what finally makes me drop the rating by quite a few marks. There's no logical, emotional, or gameplay reason for her not to kill Abby. Overall, Ellie is a "good person" and Joel tough her that despite being "good" one must act assertively to protect others and be smart about the cruel world they now live in. It's like painting morality from the real world into the fake one, just like in the later seasons of GoT.
    It makes no sense because it is a deus ex machina. That you need a flashback to explain it later on makes it worse because without it, there is literally no context nor build-up throughout the game (see above about Ellie's devolution arc) for that decision to let her go when she's mere moments of having Abby snuffed out. In one moment, she has a vision of dead Joel to spur her on to threaten Lev's life to force a showdown and then a sudden flash of a living Joel on the verge of killing Abby to make her suddenly stop. It's a legitimate "What the Fuck?" moment and not in a good way! The idea that she let her go because she remembered that she was beginning to forgive Joel and that by also forgiving Abby she could free herself from this downward spiral she put herself is fine (I actually got that/understood what they were going for on first view), but there's no context for it in the game. At least with Abby, she has a morality pet in Lev to steer her away from her path but Ellie doesn't. Worse, what morality pet she could've had in Dina she wilfully dismissed before embarking on this last mission, so it feels more like an unsatisfactory DEM than anything else to let her go. Also, I don't think the story would've ended any differently had Ellie actually killed Abby. It would've still worked and added to the realism to that situation and maintained the moral ambiguity (rather than saying that Ellie is really a good person at heart). They already killed off Joel, why not go the full hog and make Ellie an indefensibly despicable person, too?

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    At a gameplay level, I felt that the universe was twisted around itself in the same ugly way The Walking Dead became a shit show. Clickers and infected became irrelevant, and failed to adapt as a threat. You can kill at least tree times more infected on TLOU2 than in TLOU. As well, the humans were exaggerated into unreal factions/motivation. Tura's mention of the killjoy feeling is also correct. You also get to kill so many characters for the sake of dramatization. So, even having named characters affiliated with Abby die had little impact towards the audience and made her character look even more careless of her allies.
    It certainly feels a lot like the Walking Dead now doesn't it? I'm kinda surprised that most of the clickers haven't just died off not having a consistent source of nutrients to keep them ambulating about and all after all those years. It's not as they're actual zombies - physically dead people being animated by some virus afterall. The spore thing requiring an air-mask is such a frivolously weak conceit especially when Abby has to retrieve a mask in a spore infested place and then give it to Lev. Putting on the spore-covered thing would have more likely infected him than not!

    In addition to named characters dying off willy-nilly, there was never appropriate time to honour those dead people despite the game initially building up and focusing on these side-characters for a fair chunk of time.
    Last edited by Turalyon; 07-13-2020 at 05:58 AM.
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  7. #7
    The_Blade's Avatar Administrator
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    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    I agree on some principle but given the story of the game is actually presented more like a movie/tv-show, you can actually skip all the fighting or finding of random letters designed to build the world and still feel the story better by just watching all the character interactions and cinematics. Indeed, part of the ludonarrative dissonance (and one of the actual problems of the story) is due to the gameplay seemingly glorifying the amount of death that Ellie deals (or at the least, being indifferent to it) which conflicts with her seemingly being worried when killing certain named characters (who are still her enemies no less) in the cinematics.

    The way the story is structured is also the reason why people feel unmotivated to actually play it (ie: controlling Abby considering after what she did at the start of the story). I don't think the writers factored/realised the power of that particular plot point and how that could've impacted how one could experience the rest of the story when they were developing/putting it together.
    The overall game design is awful for the plot, ironically I believe the plot set this up. I'd best compare it to Kingdom Hearts 3, which is plagued by cinematic content and little to no gameplay, which is totally unfocused on the cinematic plot. In the case of TLOU2, 60% of the plot is a side quest to get to the main plot.

    I guess I'll point our more details with spoilers.

    *Beware more spoilers below*

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    It's kinda funny because not having played the original (but watched a full Let's Play of it more than once, strangely enough), I probably don't have that sense of attachment/that nostalgia for Joel and I believe that most of the resentment of Abby as a character (and how this affects how one views her section when you get to control her later) is due to her being the cause of his death almost essentially at the start of the game. I think Abby would've been better received if the story structure had the game focus on Abby from the beginning - showing her tragic backstory (of which Joel is responsible for) and then building/climaxing to the eventual death of Joel as the mid-point (or first third) of the game. It's doubly weird because I actually think Abby's story is actually stronger (and it's clear the writers want to make you feel for her), effective and more understandable than Ellie's story when you cast subjective preference (read: dislike) aside.

    Abbie is the unintended consequence of Joel's actions in the first game and that the sequel also frames her in a way that she is essentially an expy of Joel (in that they suffer a tragic loss initially, become consumed by it but slowly becomes a better person through the help of another) is quite a clever story idea in that it evokes the first game in a subtle way. Course, there's nothing stopping one from also seeing this as repetitious and derivative of the first one, but then again, we are looking at a sequel and sequels bank on nostalgia and allusions to the previous entry since they're purpose is to provide something same and different at the same time.
    I can see the remnants of an original timeline, too. I say original, because I believe that this game failed at a corporate level. Judging by the first trailer of TLOU2, the Abby plot points were developed first and even included the cultists as a more pure concept of "evil in men". However, someone started to question having a new character as the face of the franchise, regardless of the genius of leaving out Ellie and Joel (as you have very well theorized yourself) for at least the first half of it. They decided to start up with the duo right off the bat, but what plot line could they follow? None. So we have the writers making an awkward dance between rebuilding the original character and forcing Ellie into the fan wish-fulfillment revenge from the get go so that she can be playable. Add to that that they wished to retain a degree of preference for either character throwing in customization, and the whole mess becomes even more confusing.

    My original take on TLOU2 is that Abby starts off as the new exile/underdog. Like TLOU's Joel she is neither a good or evil character. Her group, the WLF (who are leaning towards evil), are lossing to the cultists over the Seattle conflicts and infected clusters. Forced to flee Seattle after "meeting" Lev and Yara, she regroups with a tiny group of survivors. They are branded as deserters, upon regrouping with a larger force; and internal conflict within the remaining WLF ends in dead people. After moving south, Abby does bond with the survivors and they all become better by leaving the past behind with wishes at heart for settling a warmer place. The group learns about Joel and splits again due to conflicting objectives, with the intention to regroup. Joel dies and now the player shifts up to Ellie. Start the bloodlust over Abby and her road to damnation, she kills all of Abby's splinter group, but Abby managed to regroup with the "pacifists" and escape. Queue Ellie being miserable in her marriage with Dina, as there's an impending new doomsday looming as infections rise. She is drinking herself to dead until she learns of Abby's location and apparent demise of the remaining WLF group and the remaining firefly scientists. With nothing left to do she goes out in search for Abby again. She kills Lev in front of Abby and the final battle starts. Ellie "wins" and the game cuts with some form of symbolic representation of Ellie's monstrosity and lose of faith as she was supposed to have traided life with Joel vs life for everybody else. She can't have either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    But there's a difference in both of these revenge stories, one has the character finding a way out of it and one being lost to it. Like I said, Abby's story parallels Joel's in the first game in that she actually gets better and is, chronologically, the first of the two to actually let go of her revenge. She only gets back to it when she discovers Elly had killed her friend and unavailable lover only to be spared from total damnation (wilfully killing a pregnant woman)/redeemed by Lev (an expy of Ellie in the first game) and stays that way right up until the end of the game.
    Well yea; but, overall, the preference for the grey character which already had a history with the players is enormous. The plot is also written to favor Ellie. An example, the overall left for dead feeling you can get from Abby's previous allies as she had fulfilled her wish to kill Joel. Sure, Abby was captured, but the chronology of events makes the player feel like Abby is the sociopath and coward Ellie is hunting. Second example, Lev is an obstacle for the player to believe in Abby's good will. It's trough him that Abby changes her mind at the last second of every important decision. I believe you have already thought of this below, but that doesn't make the story any better. The tool itself is smart, writing from different perspectives; but it was so poorly executed you can't even empathize for Abby.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Ellie in TLOU2 is actually quite sketchy in her motivation throughout the story (largely because it relies on flashbacks that force you to recontextualise/rethink on the what and why of things that you've already played through). It makes sense at first because yeah, Joel is murdered in front of her, but she actually devolves and becomes more apathetic about her killing and less "likeable" - which is another reason why people who have a preference for that character dislike this development. Indeed, her depiction is inconsistent when you think she's supposed hesitance at killing is in distinct contrast with her actions in the game. She mercilessly kills tens of mooks but in the cinematic she quivers and shakes killing some named characters that she wanted to kill from the start but then doesn't get nightmares of those afterward. Her PTSD later on is only because of Joel dying brutally in front of her and not for murdering a bunch of people out of revenge. In light of this devolution, her final decision at the end is the "cherry on top" of this messed up characterisation (as discussed below).
    I agree, but...

    The bloodbath that is TLOU2's universe leaves morality out the door and in turn Ellie's actions become assured through the plot while still wrong. Furthermore, most intellectual "polarity" on the morality of Abby vs Ellie in the TLOU2 is fake, as there's little complexity in the narrative or sustainability in Abby's characterization. The only real question that remains for the player is, "who do I like the most and how do I relate to her?". So even tho the average user hates passing through Ellie's gruelling development, they hate/identify less with Abby.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    It certainly feels a lot like the Walking Dead now doesn't it? I'm kinda surprised that most of the clickers haven't just died off not having a consistent source of nutrients to keep them ambulating about and all after all those years. It's not as they're actual zombies - physically dead people being animated by some virus afterall. The spore thing requiring an air-mask is such a frivolously weak conceit especially when Abby has to retrieve a mask in a spore infested place and then give it to Lev. Putting on the spore-covered thing would have more likely infected him than not!
    I for one hoped for more "optimistic" factions and a buff to the infected, but neither happened. Therefore the game doesn't even question Joel's actions further than "he killed a lot of people". Ellie's immunity is discussed for the most banal reasons, and her PTSD is due to the actions vs her enemies rather than the crux of Joel's death!

    Overall, I believe the story sucked, the mechanics sucked, Abby sucked, Ellie sucked, passing sucked, and on and on. Sure I can see how it could have been done better, but not without rewriting the whole thing. It's like trying to save a burned victim with 90% of the skin crisped.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    Yeah that's kinda interesting. That starcraft led to discussions about stories. You could even call this a... Starcraft Legacy.. YEAHHHHHHHHH
    The StarCraft story is mediocre at best. I'm reading The Vang: The Military Form by Christopher B. Rowley, and it is clearly superior in every imaginable way. Unlike the laughable has-been zerg, the vang are consistently terrifying and implacable.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    We all know your opinion on Starcraft, Mislag. Stop repeating already.

    Uh, as a non fan of the first game, I would have disliked the second no matter what it did. While the clickers were interesting on a story level, their story doesn't seem to translate to gameplay, and they're functionally no different from any other zombie. Joel is a terrible person, and I don't care that he died. Though having seen reviews of the second game, it sure looks like they just kinda squandered their potential. On a storytelling level, it's dumb to kill of a main character too quickly, it's dumb to make the player play as the killer, and the ending of a story should always leave the audience able to wonder about what happens next.

    Bleh.
    "Seeing Fenix once more perplexes me. I feel sadness, when I should feel joy."
    - Artanis.

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Last of Us 2

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    The overall game design is awful for the plot, ironically I believe the plot set this up.
    The plotting/narrative structure is definitely part of the issue. Much of the plot points are actually fine, it's just how they're structured/placed. Joel's death is the inciting incident but it's used more as shock and it's placement near the start instantly demotivates and distances anyone who played the first game from the Abby character - which is hard when the game intends for you to follow and even empathise with her later on. The way the story hinges on flashbacks to provide a revelation/reveal/clarity on the current situation only works on a viewer/out-of universe level when it actually makes no sense on an in-universe level. For example, Ellie's final decision to spare Abby because of her suddenly remembering she was starting to forgive Joel makes no in-universe sense since she would've been remembering this last moment from the get-go (and therefore fails to explain the sudden mercy she gives Abby) but is powerful in an out-of-universe sense because the viewer didn't know that at the time. It seems to me the writers fell victim to conceit - they were trying to be "too clever" in their writing and it unfortunately shows.

    I think the story would've been better received if it was all laid out chronologically/sequentially with no diversionary long flashbacks. It probably still won't make Ellie's decision to let Abby go make sense but I think it would've allowed the audience to begin seeing Abby's POV better.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    I can see the remnants of an original timeline, too. I say original, because I believe that this game failed at a corporate level. Judging by the first trailer of TLOU2, the Abby plot points were developed first and even included the cultists as a more pure concept of "evil in men". However, someone started to question having a new character as the face of the franchise, regardless of the genius of leaving out Ellie and Joel (as you have very well theorized yourself) for at least the first half of it. They decided to start up with the duo right off the bat, but what plot line could they follow? None. So we have the writers making an awkward dance between rebuilding the original character and forcing Ellie into the fan wish-fulfillment revenge from the get go so that she can be playable. Add to that that they wished to retain a degree of preference for either character throwing in customization, and the whole mess becomes even more confusing.
    This certainly sheds light on a few things. I've read that the game suffered due to development crunch, where sometimes the story changed but progress had gone down too far in order to change it. Even that final decision of Ellie was originally and for a long time resulting in Abby's actual death! And this was Druckmann, who finds the Abby character as his favourite, who wanted that death.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    My original take on TLOU2 is that Abby starts off as the new exile/underdog....
    The flow of the story you've provided is so much better than the disjointed, flash-backy one we got. You didn't state whether we know Abby's background (being the daughter of the doctor Joel killed) from the start or not. I'd advocate showing it off first thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    Well yea; but, overall, the preference for the grey character which already had a history with the players is enormous. The plot is also written to favor Ellie. An example, the overall left for dead feeling you can get from Abby's previous allies as she had fulfilled her wish to kill Joel. Sure, Abby was captured, but the chronology of events makes the player feel like Abby is the sociopath and coward Ellie is hunting. Second example, Lev is an obstacle for the player to believe in Abby's good will. It's trough him that Abby changes her mind at the last second of every important decision. I believe you have already thought of this below, but that doesn't make the story any better. The tool itself is smart, writing from different perspectives; but it was so poorly executed you can't even empathize for Abby.
    The way the story was presented, Abby is only made out to be the "villain" with the story attempting to subvert it later on (which was always going to be a difficult task to even if one deemed it successful) because it focuses on Ellie first and because it's a sequel, of course, we're going to follow the main character of the previous entry. However, if you focus only on Abby's stuff in chronologic order, you can see she follows the path that Joel did in the first game. Like him, she suffers a personal loss that hardens her and sets them up as a dubious person only for it to soften with the help of another younger person in need. Abby is indeed a miserable and unlikable person but she's less homicidal in her revenge than Ellie was. Abby planned to get into Jackson only to kill Joel and when fortune had Joel present himself to her justice, she killed only him, sparing Tommy and Ellie. To get to that point, she was an arsehole to her friends but not initially (only after Ellie has killed several of her friends and ex-lover) a kill-crazy person that Ellie turned out to be in her path for vengeance.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    The bloodbath that is TLOU2's universe leaves morality out the door and in turn Ellie's actions become assured through the plot while still wrong. Furthermore, most intellectual "polarity" on the morality of Abby vs Ellie in the TLOU2 is fake, as there's little complexity in the narrative or sustainability in Abby's characterization. The only real question that remains for the player is, "who do I like the most and how do I relate to her?". So even tho the average user hates passing through Ellie's gruelling development, they hate/identify less with Abby.
    If you had to pass a morality filter over it, Abby would fare better though...

    Abby's has more than enough complexity, it's just that one is not motivated to see it due to how the story is presented. In actuality, her story is a truncated and allegorical version of Joel's story in the first game. Unlike Joel, where we can only see what he's become and don't get to see how Joel's attitude affected those around him after losing Sarah, we do with Abby. If the story focused solely on Abby from the get-go, the audience identification with Abby would've been smoother/easier to get into.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Blade View Post
    I for one hoped for more "optimistic" factions and a buff to the infected, but neither happened. Therefore the game doesn't even question Joel's actions further than "he killed a lot of people". Ellie's immunity is discussed for the most banal reasons, and her PTSD is due to the actions vs her enemies rather than the crux of Joel's death!
    "Optimism" in TLOU universe? Get outta town! As to the infected, well, you should be thinking they'd be regressing since there's fewer humans about to infect/provide nutrients and that most infected actually end up going somewhere to die to release spores.

    I don't think Joel really needs more exploration. It's clear that he does what he thinks is justified - just like everyone else who's trying to survive in the hellhole that they're in. I don't mind Elly's immunity not being a thing anymore since it did kinda feel macguffiny for me to begin with anyway. I've always just considered her like an aberration/a mutant and not really "immune" per se. As to the PTSD she has, the only clear sign she has any consequence of it at all is when she's at the farmhouse and that was about Joel, so I'm not sure what you mean there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    The StarCraft story is mediocre at best. I'm reading The Vang: The Military Form by Christopher B. Rowley, and it is clearly superior in every imaginable way. Unlike the laughable has-been zerg, the vang are consistently terrifying and implacable.
    Classic Misla OCD. Need to learn to let go, bud!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    On a storytelling level, it's dumb to kill of a main character too quickly, it's dumb to make the player play as the killer, and the ending of a story should always leave the audience able to wonder about what happens next.
    The first two things are definitely a unique and interesting barrier for an audience member to tackle and overcome, so I give it points for bravery/trying alone but yeah, nine times out of ten, it's not gonna work out well. Not sure about the last part though. Most endings are about resolution and tying loose ends so that you don't have to wonder what happens next. The first game ends on an ambiguous note and it makes you wonder what could happen next but you don't really have to because you'd kinda know what would happen if it did, based on what had been presented up to that point. It (like most things I find) never needed a sequel/continuation.
    Last edited by Turalyon; 07-16-2020 at 03:29 AM.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


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