It’s been a long time coming, but The Last of Us is finally getting some DLC. It’s not the ambitious singleplayer DLC that’s scheduled for a few months from now, but for all the gamer’s enjoying surprisingly-good competitive multiplayer of The Last of Us these 4 new maps in the ‘Abandoned Territories’ pack are going to more than welcome.
IGN got their hands on the maps with Naughty Dog today and here are brand new screenshots and info on each:
The Bookstore immediately stood out as being a tiny, contained map, one that forces confrontation and is exceptionally difficult to stay hidden on for long. Indeed, that was the idea. Robert Ryan, a map designer at Naughty Dog, noted that this map emphasizes the “iconic fights in single player” into the multiplayer realm.
You may remember the bookstore from your time in Pittsburgh during the campaign, though it’s been modified for multiplayer. The two floors of the decaying structure are surrounded by some smaller outdoor areas that give you a little room to work with, but in reality, the action almost entirely takes place inside, and especially upstairs, where there’s cover galore. This is in stark contrast to this area in single player, where it’s more open. A lot of the sightlines are cut off and stymied when playing online.
This map contains “first and second floor combat that we don’t have in other maps,” Ryan explained, talking about his want to have “a lot of volume in a small space.” He and his team have largely succeeded in making that a reality, with couches, bookshelves, and other fortifications littering every corner of the structure. As you navigate the paper-strewn floors here, you’re going to be on edge, because danger really could lurk around every corner. This makes for an especially good map to set traps in the form of explosives, since they’ll be fairly hard to spot.
One specific outdoor area surrounding the Bookstore does stand out, however. Metal catwalks lined with barbed wire give you some room to breathe outside, though you’ll very rapidly be funneled back inside. Staircases both indoors and out that go from one floor to the next also give you a place to hide and get away from the fray, but rest assured: the Bookstore is dangerous, and it’s going to make you bring your A-game.
If the Hometown map is anything, it’s unexpected. While many of the maps already in the game show you places you encounter well after the fall of civilization, Hometown brings you back to Texas, to the very beginning of the campaign, when Joel and his daughter Sarah are escaping the dangers of their neighborhood only to quickly realize that the world around them is falling apart. Interestingly, the Hometown map doesn’t show the pristineness of those more innocent days, but what it looks like now, years after Cordyceps wreaked havoc on the planet.
Ryan noted that Hometown is perhaps the darkest map in the game yet, with the exception of the unpopular Downtown map. Naughty Dog is well aware that the Downtown map is least favorite map of The Last of Us’ fanbase, and as such strove to make “a night map people really want to play.” As such, the team was forced to confront the mistakes they made with Downtown. “We took the lessons learned there and tried to make Hometown more connected… [it’s] easier to fight, to see people in the distance,” Ryan said.
This map comes off as special not only because of its intricate and thoughtful design, but because it gives you a glimpse into Joel’s hometown, giving you a chance to see things you didn’t have the opportunity to really sit around and look at before. The billiard hall and bar you run through during the game’s intro is one such building that you can explore, as are other buildings that you never had the chance to go in at all, but may have seen in the distance, like the local donut shop.
Lit only by moonlight and some raging fires, the crackling of the flames are the only sounds you’ll hear on the map until the sounds of violence inevitably break up the eerie serenity. As the flattest map in the game, Hometown contains no verticality – making it contrast starkly with the Bookstore – and while it’s overgrown, it doesn’t feel as reclaimed-by-nature as other maps in the game. Indeed, with the exception of a grassy area in one corner and some rocky outcroppings, Hometown has more of the makings of a wartorn town – with its blown-out, crumbling buildings and destroyed homes – than it does a long-abandoned village.
The Bus Depot’s vivid, bright color palette really makes it pop when compared to other new maps being added to The Last of Us’ roster. It brings us back to Salt Lake City, Utah, where our adventure comes to a conclusion in the campaign, and there are few parts of the entire single player mode that were prettier or more visually engaging than the serene sights of the abandoned and dilapidated capital city. After all, Salt Lake City is an “extremely iconic section” of the game, Ryan said.
Bus Depot represents an amalgamation of design philosophies, bringing together elements from Hometown and Bookstore to create a map that juxtaposes horizontal gameplay with vertical firefights. There are buildings to explore and outdoor areas to run to; indeed, the Bus Depot does a really nice job of mixing scenic and sunny outdoor vistas with confined, darker indoor areas. The fields and mountains surrounding the Bus Depot map may get you killed a few times, simply because they’re so pretty to look at. Oh, and did I mention that you might even be able to spot some giraffes in the distance?
Back in Hometown, the crackling of burning fires was the only sound that complemented the inevitable gunfights (and accompanying yelling and screaming) that will happen. In the Bus Depot, things are a bit more peaceful, with the chirping of birds and other sounds of nature reminding you that Salt Lake City has pretty much been completely reclaimed by nature. Fallen highway bridges, skyscrapers with windows missing and plantlife growing up and around them make you wonder if anyone has lived near the city at all in recent time.
“The verticality works very well on this map,” Ryan said as we played. “I think we got a lot of space out of [this] map. I think [this] map is very well put together.” If there’s something this map does very well apart from that, it’s to make you really think about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Cover is fairly sparse when compared to other maps in the core game and in this map pack, and there are wide open areas and lots of stairs that could cause some issues. This, I think, is my favorite map of the bunch.
The final map I played on, the Suburbs, brings us back to Pittsburgh, and specifically to the dangerous area near where the “sniper fight” occurs during the campaign. This map screamed “Lakeside” to me, with lines of houses on either side separated by a main street, and lots of areas to work your way around at the edges of the map. It’s very “circuitous,” as Ryan explained, one that forces you to be silent, take evasive action, and wait for the right time to strike.
Like the single player portion of the game the Suburbs map is designed around, there’s a lot of uneven terrain that makes for what Ryan calls “playable elevation.” This lets you get a jump on unsuspecting players from the relative safety of the high ground. But other parts of the map really let it shine, and really play up its undeniably eerie, almost-too-silent feel. And like Lakeside with its dynamic snowstorms and the Dam with its fog, the Suburbs suffer from random sandstorms that limit visibility and make it even harder to get around and see where you’re going.
Ryan described the “calm before the storm” moments that really make this map stand out, and I quickly learned what he was talking about. Like Lakeside or the Dam, it can take some time for teams to run into each other, giving you precious moments to prepare, craft items, set traps, and outwit your enemies. The tension builds every second you work your way through this abandoned cul-de-sac without running into anyone until you finally do… and there’s a fair chance your foes will spot you before you see them.
Also like Lakeside, much of the terrain of the map is in the middle, but “not a lot of people go through” that central area, Ryan said. It’s all about circling around, going in and out of the houses, up and down stairs, and waiting for the right time to strike. The uneven terrain adds to the drama, since it’s possible to enter a house’s second floor via some stairs and a porch, then go all the way down to the basement, and come back out the other side at ground level. This map will take some learning, for sure, but its massive size and emphasis on strategy may very well make it a fan favorite.
Now enjoy TLOU’s multiplayer more than I and I’m beside myself with excitement to put more time into it with these fantastic looking maps. And at only $10 (for non season pass holders), I’d say they’re worth every penny if they’re on the level of the rest of The Last of Us.
Are you going to be getting ‘Abandoned Territories’ today? Which map interests you most so far and why? Share your thoughts below in the comments!