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Should You Play ‘The Last of Us’ Before Watching the HBO Series?

Ellie and Joel in The Last of Us HBO series

When it was announced that a series based on The Last of Us was coming to HBO, fans of the game were excited. Others took to playing it for the first time, or at least watching play-throughs of Naughty Dog’s hit title. But there are still some who have not yet explored The Last of Us games. And that’s okay, too!

Created by Neil Druckmann, the game explores a post-apocalyptic world in which people have become infected by a parasitic Cordyceps fungus, and you have one simple objective: Get a girl named Ellie Williams to the Fireflies, a militia. You play often as Joel Miller (with some exceptions throughout the game) and you’re trying to get Ellie to the Fireflies because her immunity may be the key to overcoming the Cordyceps infection. The TV series is basically the same story with Joel and Ellie leading the charge, but if you haven’t played the game, you might have some questions.

The main question is: Can you enjoy the show without having played the game? First, every game has a story, and so what you’re doing by watching the show before playing is just learning the story first. Which could be a good thing!

Does The Last of Us make sense if you haven’t played the game?

One of the unique things about The Last of Us as a game is how cinematic it is in its storytelling. So playing the game is itself fascinating, but the story is really what drew fans to it. Having not played the game yet, I don’t think you’re at a disadvantage with the show. You’ll definitely have a different experience with it given how it pays homage to the game and the characters fans love.

But it isn’t something that will detract from your viewing experience. Hopefully, the show will inspire those who haven’t played The Last of Us to explore both parts (The Last of Us 2 was released in 2020). For me, watching the series has made me want to actually play through the game myself instead of watching a play-through. The simple answer: No, you don’t have to play through the game before watching the HBO series.

I do think your experience will be enriched if you do know the game and know the characters prior to watching the show, but if you haven’t yet, maybe wait until you’ve seen all of The Last of Us before jumping into the Naughty Dog game!

(featured image: HBO)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.