Why I love The Last of Us multiplayer, in a nutshell

The intoxicating rush of everything hanging in the balance

We’re outnumbered, down to our last pair of lives. The clock is ticking; it’s as much of a threat to my team’s survival as the four armed men bearing down on our position. I don’t like our chances — not one bit — but moments like this, they’re the reason I play the game.

Luckily, I’m well-stocked and have a plan. I have a shotgun, body armor, explosives, and a two-by-four if anyone gets too close; I’m a walking arsenal in a world where you’re lucky to scrape together a full clip. I have a defensible position, and I’ve laid trip bombs at the entrances. They’ll need to walk through an explosion or two if they want to come get me. That’s my hope, at least.

My teammate gets picked off out in the open. I’m all alone now. A sinking feeling sets in. My chances of pulling off an unlikely victory are dwindling with each passing second. They could just run out the clock. No, they’ll charge my position. Look, here’s one coming around the corner. 

I surprise him with a shotgun blast to the chest and finish the job with a rifle round. I’m still outnumbered, though, and they now know exactly where I am. Here they come. One sets off a trip bomb, buying me precious time to reload. My latest victim, I surmise, is getting healed by his teammate. Dare I go for the kill? Sure. What do I have to lose?

Woah! As I approach them, a Molotov cocktail flies my way. But the throw is wide. Thank God! Quickly, I return the favor, engulfing the pair in deadly flames. My heart is pounding.

Two enemies left. Still outnumbered. Always outnumbered. Twenty seconds. It’s do or die.

One enemy rushes straight at me. My shotgun makes quick work of him. Now it’s mano-a-mano. I see a blip on my radar and dart toward it. There’s no time to think. A bomb sails my way. I run through it, desperately, then take an arrow to the chest. My body armor now gone, I manage to get one shot off, lighting up my final foe at point blank. Victory!

The Last of Us multiplayer is filled with little moments like these, harrowing times that see players walk along a knife-edge. Some will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others will succumb to the pressure. Maybe they’ll just get plain unlucky. Oftentimes it doesn’t matter how talented you are. A cohesive team can fell even the toughest of opponents.

The outcome really doesn’t matter. All I care about is the intoxicating feeling that comes before. The feeling of blood rushing through your veins. The adrenaline. It’s the reason I play the game, the reason I shall continue to play it for years to come. Come join me sometime. It’s a blast.

Kyle MacGregor Burleson