The Last of Us Part II was released in June 2020 to eager anticipation. However, with seven years having passed since the first game, you may need a refresher. This may be because you have never played the original, or that you have played it but can’t remember all of the events that took place.

If you’re jumping into the series for the first time and just want some context, or need to jog your memory about the plot of the first game, here’s what you need to know before playing The Last of Us Part II.

What Is The Last of Us?

The Last of Us is a PlayStation-exclusive survival adventure game that was first released for PlayStation 3 in 2013. An additional DLC chapter followed in 2014. The game was developed by Naughty Dog, the same studio behind the Uncharted series.

With the release of the PlayStation 4, a remastered version of the game came out in July 2014.

The game’s story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a fungal outbreak has turned a large portion of humanity into zombie-like creatures. This Cordyceps fungus takes over the brains and nervous systems of victims, turning them into aggressive hosts that try to spread the fungus’ spores.

In the present day, survivors live in heavily policed quarantine zones controlled by the army. However, rebels known as the Fireflies oppose this military rule.

The wilderness outside of these quarantine zones is inhabited by the infected, bandits, rebels, and small colonies of survivors (who should have read our guide to surviving the zombie apocalypse

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The Last of Us Characters

the last of us ellie and joel

*Warning: The following section contains minor spoilers for the first part of The Last of Us.*

The Last of Us has two main characters: Ellie and Joel. However, you spend the vast majority of the first game playing as and controlling Joel.

You first meet Joel at the onset of the outbreak. Joel attempts to escape the chaos with his daughter Sarah and brother Tommy. While fleeing, a soldier shoots Sarah. The young girl dies in Joel’s arms.

Players continue Joel’s story 20 years later—with Joel becoming a smuggler and bitter survivalist. It’s through his work as a smuggler that he meets Ellie.

Joel and his partner are hired by Firefly leader Marlene to escort the young teen to a drop-off point.

Ellie’s importance to the rebellion soon becomes clear. It turns out that Ellie is immune to the Cordyceps fungus and therefore humanity’s only hope to finding a vaccine.

The Last of Us: Plot Summary and Recap

ellie and joel last of us

*Warning: This section contains major spoilers for the first The Last of Us game.*

Joel and his smuggler partner Tess agree to escort Ellie to Fireflies outside the quarantine zone. Along the way, Ellie reveals that she was bitten by one of the infected several weeks back. Despite this, the fungus hasn’t taken over—even though the transformation usually takes place within two days.

When they reach their destination, the group find their Firefly contacts dead.  Soldiers try to apprehend them, but Tess (who reveals she had been bitten shortly before) sacrifices herself so that Ellie and Joel can escape.

Joel decides to take Ellie to his brother Tommy, a former Firefly. Along the way, they meet brothers Henry and Sam who they form a friendship with. However, this ends in tragedy when Sam succumbs to a Cordyceps infection and Henry ends his own life in grief.

When they reach Tommy, Joel’s cold treatment of Ellie has warmed somewhat. After an emotional confrontation, he decides to finish the journey with Ellie. The pair then set off to the last known Firefly base.

The base is abandoned by the time they arrive. They discover that the Fireflies have since moved to a hospital in Salt Lake City.

Joel’s injury and Ellie’s abduction

ellie last of us infected

While setting off for their new location, bandits attack the pair and Joel sustains a life-threatening injury during the encounter. With winter setting in, Ellie shelters with Joel in the mountains and treats his injury.

Some time later, Ellie encounters some survivors while hunting alone. They agree to trade some medicine with her.

But things take a turn when one of the survivors, David, tells Ellie that a man traveling with a young girl killed some of his men a few weeks before. David, who heavily implies that he suspects her, lets Ellie go with the medicine.

Soon after returning to tend to Joel, she realizes that David’s group followed her. David captures Ellie and takes her back to his base, where she discovers that his group has resorted to cannibalism.

Ellie eventually escapes and during her final encounter with David, she kills him. Joel, who has tracked her down, finds her at this moment and comforts her.

last of us ending salt lake city

When spring comes, Ellie and Joel reach Salt Lake City. Joel suggests that they rather return to Tommy to live in the settlement. But Ellie wants to go through with their original plan. Remarking on the lives lost, including those by her hands, she says, “It can’t be for nothing”.

On their way into the city, they fall into water and Ellie, who cannot swim, falls unconscious. As Joel tries to revive her, Fireflies find him and knock him out.

The Last of Us Ending

last of us ending marlene

*Warning: This section contains major spoilers for the first The Last of Us game.*

When Joel wakes up, he sees Marlene. She tells Joel that doctors are preparing Ellie for surgery. The surgeons plan to remove the mutated Cordyceps growth on Ellie’s brain and use it to reverse engineer a vaccine.

Joel becomes enraged at the idea that Ellie likely won’t survive the operation and fights the Fireflies. He finds Ellie unconscious in the operating room and kills the doctors. While escaping, he encounters Marlene. She pleads with Joel to let them operate on Ellie, noting that it’s what Ellie would want and he knows it.

The game flashes forward to Joel driving away. Ellie regains consciousness in the back seat and asks what happened. He tells her that the Fireflies weren’t able to reverse engineer a vaccine and have given up trying.

However, flashbacks show what really happened—with Joel shooting and killing Marlene so that she can never come looking for Ellie.

When they reach Tommy’s settlement, Ellie asks Joel to swear that he told her the truth about the Fireflies. He promises her that he told the truth and she simply says “OK”.

Where The Last of Us Part II Picks Up

The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after the events of the first game. Ellie, now around 19 years old, has settled within Tommy’s community in Jackson. There, she has formed friendships and even a potential romantic relationship.

However, tragedy strikes and Ellie vows revenge on those responsible.

The game promises to provide players with escalating moral conflicts, shedding light on the repercussions of Ellie and Joel’s actions before and during the game. According to Sony, the story blurs the lines between hero and villain.

The sequel features similar mechanics to its predecessor, but you play primarily from Ellie’s perspective. Players are also able to use a greater variety of weapons, crafted items, and skills.

Other Unmissable PlayStation 4 Games to Play

Now you’re all caught up on the events of the first The Last of Us game and can jump right into the sequel. And once you finish The Last of Us Part II, it might be worth checking out the best PS4 exclusives

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. After all, the PlayStation 5 will soon be with us.

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