The Last Of Us is Naughty Dog’s most recent title, follows a protagonist named Joel and his 14-year-old sidekick Ellie through a post-apocalyptic American landscape. Twenty years ago, a mysterious fungus started infecting people by the millions and turning them into zombies, but not the silly, shambling kind; these zombies are fast, and ruthless, and they just don’t like you very much.
Mind-controlling fungus isn’t such a far-fetched concept; when the game was first announced in 2011, the trailers interspersed gameplay footage with actual clips of an ant infected with Cordyceps unilateralis. (If you’ve never heard of that before, watch this and then take up woodworking or something to fill the eight extra hours you have in your day because you’ll never sleep again.)
Since it’s only a matter of time until we’ve got a human-compatible Cordyceps on our hands, here are some lessons we can all take away from the brilliant new release The Last Of Us.
It’s Really Goddamn Hard to Aim a Gun
If I’ve learned anything from games, it’s to be very wary around red barrels. A close second, though, would be how to shoot a gun. It’s such an integral part of most games that it’s not even really a trope; it’s just part of life, like breathing or compulsively looting dead bodies.
But The Last Of Us doesn’t care that you skipped your prom to play Call of Duty. The Last Of Us knows that, when it comes right down to it, you don’t have a goddamn clue how to aim a gun if you only have one bullet in your clip. Since every survivor has been raiding the cityscape for a full 20 years, there’s not a lot of anything left anywhere. If you manage to have 12 bullets in your pocket at any given time, it’s a coup. Wasting ammo is a major offense, because you don’t know when you’re going to stumble on a jackpot of four whole bullets hidden in a desk drawer again. So you take a deep breath as the runners come at you, you line up your sights, and you take your shot.
It is really, really goddamn hard to aim a gun.
Start Hoarding Scissors Now
There are some things that are always going to be useful in a post-apocalyptic landscape. You don’t need to study survival techniques to know that if you see a crowbar, you take that crowbar with you. Even most of the items you craft in the game make sense; for instance, a bottle of alcohol and a rag make a Molotov cocktail. Simple.
But somehow, in 2033 Boston, scissors became the de facto material of choice for just about every weapon. You can use them to make shivs, upgrade your melee weapon, even combine them with gunpowder to make a crude but pretty devastating bomb. Scissors are the sriracha of The Last Of Us world; you can put them on just about everything to make it better.
Invest In Some Vibrams
God, I hate Vibrams. You know, those dumb, New Age-looking shoes with individual toes that come with the warning “may cause violent, involuntary eye-rolling in passersby”? Well, turns out they’re just ahead of their time, because those are the footwear of choice in The Last Of Us universe.
TLoU’s gameplay features a heavy focus on stealth, but unlike many other stealth-based games, you don’t get a visibility-o-meter and the enemies are absolutely unforgiving. Accidentally move a tiny bit too quickly and make an audible footstep? Cool, now every Infected in a 200-foot radius is running directly at you. This is doubly true with the most terrifying species of Infected, known as Clickers, whose infections are so severe that the fungus has grown over their faces, blinding them and forcing them to rely on echolocation like bats.
In a world where the slightest scrape of leather sole against concrete can trigger an onslaught of mushroom-faced sprinting zombies, it’s probably worth utilizing the footstep-muffling power of Vibrams and looking like a complete tool. Probably.
As Soon As The Infection Hits, Burn Every Joke Book on Earth
Early on in the game, your sidekick Ellie finds a book of puns in an abandoned building. She’s a fourteen-year-old, and fourteen-year-olds are, by definition, the worst, so of course she takes it with her and reads out a few as you continue your journey.
It’s cute at first.
Listen, if something terrible happens, and you have the sudden realization that almost everyone on Earth is going to die and that if you survive, you won’t have any real choice in who your companions are, don’t head to the grocery store or an emergency shelter. Arm yourself with a pair of scissors taped to a 2×4, head to your local library, and burn the humor section to the ground. For the good of us all.
Alli Reed is fine, just sneaking through this abandoned building, I don’t think there are any Infected in h-OH GOD OH GOD I ONLY HAVE THREE BULLETS AND THEY’RE ALL FOR DIFFERENT GUNS, CAN YOU KILL A CLICKER WITH AN EMPTY BEER BOTTLE, WHY AM I CARRYING AN EMPTY BEER BOTTLE, OH GOD OH GOD okay I’m dead. Follow her on twitter: @alliperson