What surprised me about The Last of Us was probably the most disappointing, yet again the gamer is forced to kill tons of human enemies. I didnt think this would be a factor at all. I knew that we probably would have to kill a few humans along the way. Whatever. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do. This is the end of the world we're talking here. But humans are not just an occasional enemy, they are everywhere and probably a more powerful force than the infected itself. Sure we can use stealth to limit some of kills we tally, although that doesn't change the fact the human enemies have been programmed to kill you. They want you dead, you just want to survive however you can.
For all the design work that went into The Last of Us, I feel Naughty Dog put the very least amount of effort into exploring what I found to be the most fascinating part of the game "The Infected" and way too much effort into developing their bleak, chaotic depiction of society after the infection hit. With more emphasis on the former, and far less emphasis on the latter Naughty Dog could have created a masterpiece, instead they end up walking the beaten path.
My guess is Naughty God's grand vision for multiplayer played a huge part in taking the game in this direction. The multiplayer could never have worked unless the story had humans who were extremely volatile and skeptical of each other, resulting in clans, factions and overall anarchy. Hence, TLOA Multiplayer. Even if it didn't, and this dark depiction of humans was thought of way before hand, the idea behind multiplayer would only have served to keep pushing the Last of Us in this trodden direction.
Upon finishing the Last of Us (Spoiler Free), it is clear that the ending was thought of early in the game's development. When writers think of a specific "end" before anything else, the events that happened before it are typically conveniently shaped and tailored to meet the requirements of that preconceived ending. When endings are thought of last (which they ought to be, but this does make for a less structured and arduous process for the development team) there is a much more natural feel to everything. It's harder to tell where a story is going and the overall story becomes more balanced. Big endings often take too much weight and gamers can see them coming a mile away, not necessarily with "how it's going to end", but "where it's going to end." The reason I bring this up is, for those of you familiar with the game's ending, know that it wouldn't have been made possible without the world that Naughty Dog created for The Last of Us.
Ok. I get it. I know Naughty Dog wasnt just making a game about killing humans for the heck of it. I know they were trying to send a deeper, cleverer message. For instance: In this infected world, the biggest threat isnt the infected itself but your fellow man. Wow, thats deep. But make the excuse as clever as you want, the game still uses humans as the main target. Naughty Dog made an excellent opportunity to step away from this, and they chose not to. Instead we have more guns. More violence. More thoughtless killing. More of the past.
Maybe Naughty is saving more infected for later. I dont know. But to me this should have been taken care of with the first installment. The idea of the infected should have allowed for the developers to let their imaginations run wild. It should have been the main focus. Create incredibly unique and puzzling enemy types. Its funny because at so many points in the Last of Us I was thinking, OkHere we go. Naughty Dog is going to throw something crazy new at us. Then nothing, just more clickers, more zombie like infected people, or just another group of humans, just more average, standard gameplay.