The Last of Us had only one single boss fight. The first Bloater encounter aside, the original game was heavily focused on exploration and story. To preserve the sense of realism and proper world-building, the game didn’t really have much room for ultra epic zombie boss fights, but it did still manage to deliver on one of the scariest and most tense boss sequences I’d ever experience in a video game: the encounter with David towards the end.
Even now, having played The Last of Us a ton of times at this point, going back to that David fight still creeps me the hell out and remains one of the highest points of that game. Somehow, Naughty Dog has managed to retain that level of intensity with another boss fight in The Last of Us Part II.
Before we go any further, do be warned that this article contains major spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.
At the end of the second act, we finally see how Abby and Ellie’s paths have intersected, and we also see both sides of this bloody revenge story. By this point, it’s obvious to the player that in her quest for revenge, Ellie has inadvertently become the villain of The Last of Us Part II.
She ruthlessly slaughters and tortures her enemies, she slowly starts to detach herself from her own friends, and she becomes blinded by her lust for revenge. On the other side of things, Abby was wronged by Joel taking her father away from her, and subsequently a potential cure for humanity as well, and that’s why this boss fight works so well.
Instead of putting us back in control of Ellie, who’s supposed to be the main character of this video game, we stay with Abby instead. Here, Ellie is the villain, and Abby’s the one who has every right to seek payback for all her friends who have died unfairly.
Whereas the David fight was tense because of how creepy of a character he was, the Ellie fight is tense because we genuinely care for both characters and don’t want either of them to actually die.
On one hand, yes, Ellie’s quest for revenge has twisted her into someone who can’t think rationally and that has led her to become incredibly selfish and commit all sorts of heinous acts.
On the other hand, it’s Ellie. She’s the one we’ve spent a whole game with, watching her grow from a young girl who was endlessly curious about everything going on in the world, to a total badass who could probably break your knees if you crossed her.
She’s an unlikable character in The Last of Us Part II, but it’s hard to forget her past self, and it’s hard for players to get detached from her.
The fight itself is an intense battle of wits and an elevation of the David fight from the first game; both parties are still sneaking around each other, except this time Ellie has access to her entire arsenal of weapons and you can bet she’s going to use all her tools against you.
She’s proficient with the rifle and the bow, and even one arrow can quickly drain all of your health. She knows how to set traps, and if you make one wrong move, you can run into a proximity mine and instantly kill yourself.
Fighting Ellie feels like a heavy punch to the gut because you’ve just spent half a game unlocking all these weapon and character upgrades for her, honing her to become a dangerous killer, and now she’s the one thing that you have to overcome in order to see the rest of the gory tale.
It’s a difficult and upsetting encounter, and eventually leads to a harrowing outcome where you’re not even quite sure if either of them are going to make it out alive.
The Last of Us Part II is a carefully crafted story that slowly builds up to this climactic encounter, and while the game is never quite as scary as the notion of a grown man hunting down a 14 year-old girl to murder her, it puts you on edge in a completely different way.
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