After two decades of being ravaged by a fungal infection that killed millions of people, the future America seen in The Last of Us is a dark and dangerous place.
Every day is now a battle just to stay alive, with threats coming not only from the Infected, but also the soldiers enforcing martial law and the Hunters dishing out their own brand of mob justice.
Those who are unprepared won't be able to hold out for long, which is where our guide comes in. From crafting and upgrading the best items to taking down enemies quickly and efficiently, we've got all the advice you need to endure and survive.
GET THE MOST OUT OF LISTEN MODE
Listen Mode is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal, and as its use is unlimited you should make sure you activate it whenever a threat is close. This will reveal the location of any nearby enemies, and by checking their outlines you can determine what type of foes lie ahead to plan your approach accordingly.
It's a good idea to count how many enemies you can see around you, to get a feel for the amount of opposition you're facing and help keep track of them. Be wary that only assailants making a noise, either by speaking or moving around, will appear clearly in Listen Mode, so be on the look out for faint outlines and switch to your regular view now and again to ensure you don't stumble into any surprises.
By staying in Listen Mode and watching the movement of your adversaries you can work out what routes they're taking, giving you a much better chance of slipping past unnoticed or picking off solitary enemies without alerting the rest of the group. If you do get spotted then Listen Mode can help you to quickly react to their movements, so you can avoid being flanked and slip away before you get overwhelmed.
PICK THE RIGHT WEAPON UPGRADES
Weapon upgrades are based on two key components - the parts that are commonly found lying around each area, and the scarce tool kits that allow you to create more complex modifications. A set number of parts are expended to make each upgrade, but your tools remain at the level unlocked and do not get used up. Weapon benches are the only places you can make these modifications and they are only found infrequently throughout the game, so upgrade as many items as you can whenever you get the opportunity.
Your first upgrades should definitely be the improved holsters, as these allow you to equip two small weapons such as pistols and two large weapons like rifles at the same time. Without these holsters you need to dip into your backpack to switch weapons, which takes time and leaves you completely exposed to attack, but once you have them you can easily switch between two weapons of the same type by pushing left or right on the d-pad.
In terms of weapons, you should focus on levelling up the 9mm pistol as it's a good all rounder, and the bow as you can use it for ranged stealth takedowns and can often recover your arrows from felled enemies for additional ammunition. Kitting out the hunting rifle with a scope and making it more powerful will allow you to eliminate distant targets, which really helps when facing large groups of enemies.
AVOID COMBAT WHERE POSSIBLE
One of the main things to remember about combat is that many of the enemy encounters are completely optional and can be avoided, which is especially useful on higher difficulty levels. By staying crouched to reduce your movement noise to a minimum and keeping hidden behind objects, you should be able to sneak your way past most foes to reach the area exit.
Listen out for a rising whooshing sound, which is an audio clue that an enemy is detecting you, but if you hear this starting up don't immediately panic. You normally still have a few seconds of grace before being noticed, so if you calmly move into cover it should die away again. You can throw a brick or bottle to make a noise and shift your enemy's attention in another direction, but be wary that bumping into things while sneaking can also make noise and give away your position.
If you do get spotted, then don't be afraid to turn and run away! If you can break the line of sight with your aggressors they will lose track of you, and will head to your last known location before splitting up to continue searching for you. By understanding this behaviour you can exploit it to set up ambushes, break up groups of enemies or lead them away to open up an exit route.
WIN EVERY FIGHT
Shying away from combat may be the best approach, but there are times where a confrontation is unavoidable. You should still apply stealth where possible in these situations, stalking individual enemies to a quiet area before taking them out. Once you've grabbed a foe it's also possible to drag them for a short distance, which is very useful for getting them out of sight to avoid detection while choking them.
A great method for eliminating enemies is to throw a brick or bottle at them, which you don't have to aim if you press R1 when a green circle appears on them, then dash in while they're stunned and melee attack for a one hit kill. You don't even need a weapon to do this on most enemies, and when it comes to Clickers it's actually quieter than grabbing and shivving them - though you must use a melee weapon against them.
When facing several human enemies, a good approach is to grab the nearest one to use as a shield then quickly shoot the others while you're protected. You can also easily take out a group of enemies by throwing a brick or bottle into the middle of them, then waiting for them to converge before chucking in a Molotov or a bomb. Molotovs continue to burn on the ground for several seconds after they land, and will still set fire to anyone that comes into contact with them.
When shooting you should always aim for headshots, as this is most effective and you need to make every bullet count. If you have AI partners with you then try to take cover and let them do the work, which reduces your risk and saves vital ammo. At the end of each fight go through your inventory and ensure you reload all of your guns, so you're already prepared for the next encounter.