The Last Of Us Abandoned Territories Map Pack Review – 28 October 2013 – By Scott Barker

The Last Of Us is going to win game of they year awards from numerous outlets, and deservedly so. In years to come TLOU may not be remembered for its multiplayer mode (that Naughty Dog was ambiguously quiet about until launch) but it will be for its incredible single-player campaign. So while The Abandoned Territories map pack isn’t the single-player DLC a lot of fans are waiting on, it does offer four new fresh and diverse multiplayer maps to an already great multiplayer mode, along with a new patch to fix and tighten the multiplayer itself.

TLOU Bookstore
Bus Depot

Admittedly I haven’t played The Last Of Us’ multiplayer component since June, so I was a little rusty and I needed to gain my bearings upon my first couple of matches. It seems like I was in the minority of people who hadn’t played the multiplayer in a while though, as I was in multiplayer matches with rank 100s, 200s and even 300s. So, suffice to say, I was getting my righteous-A kicked. So if you’re buying these maps casually like me, then be warned: these are hardcore players buying the Abandoned Territories map pack. Good news, though: You’re going to have these hardcore players on your team as well.

I mostly played the relatively new mode Interrogation — which was added a few months back — and I found that it heavily relies on teamwork — which a team-based multiplayer match should do. Every match I’ve played in, regardless of whether or not my teammates had microphones, we were working as a team. Healing each other, gifting each other items, and even moving around as a team — especially when a match first starts and you and your team are stealthily moving around to locate the other team. This is something I didn’t notice when playing The Last Of Us’ multiplayer mode there and around its launch, so it just goes to show how a dedicated fan-base and time can greatly alter how a multiplayer mode is played.

tlou suburbs
Suburbs

What about the actual maps themselves, then? Firstly, I should say that I had almost forgotten just how good The Last Of Us looks; it’s without a doubt one of the best looking games on consoles, and the four new maps are no exception to the rule. All four maps are cut out portions of certain areas you may recognise from the campaign, and this isn’t a bad thing. No map particularly stands head-and-shoulders tall above another, though, and no map particularly stands out as being bad. A healthy dose of thought and care has gone in to all of them, though my particular favourite is Bookstore; mainly because it’s the smallest of the bunch, and it’s a great map for close-quarters, shotgun-style combat. There’s still plenty of room to take the stealth route, though, either by flanking around the sides or by going up the stairs.

Hometown is the darkest multiplayer to date, and fans may recognise it from the very beginning of the single-player, in Joel’s hometown. Unlike Joel’s Hometown, Suburbs is a bright and colourful suburban area, and it actually looks peaceful and natural in contrast. Both maps are medium sized. Bus Depot, on the other hand, is the biggest of the bunch, and patience is needed to sneak around the map and seek out the other team. Not being the most patient of players, I would’ve said that Bus Depot is my least favourite of maps; however, this was up until (spoiler) I saw the giraffes in the background.

TLOU Bus Depot
Bookstore

There’s a separate DLC playlist to play all three multiplayer modes on The Abandoned Territories map pack, but for some rather bizarre reason the original maps have been included in the cycle and can be voted to play on as well.  Granted the original maps didn’t come up much, and when they did they were never voted to play anyway, but I just feel that it’s bizarre to have included them in the cycle in the first place. I was spawn-killed a couple of times and I was kicked from a match on one occasion for no apparent reason, but apart from those minor gripes the multiplayer ran smoothly and I experienced no lag whatsoever.

If you enjoyed The Last Of Us’ multiplayer the first time round and you’re looking for an excuse to jump into the multiplayer again, then don’t hesitate to purchase Abandoned Territories. If you’re eagerly anticipating the single-player DLC as well as wanting to play on more multiplayer maps then you’re going to save money purchasing the season pass, which gains you access to both the single-player and multiplayer DLC. Purchasing the season pass will also nab you a 90-minute documentary style making of The Last Of Us video, which I can wholeheartedly say you’ll love if you enjoy seeing how games are made as much as you love playing them.

tlou hometown
Hometown

The Abandoned Territories Map Pack will set you back £7.99, and the Season Pass will cost you £15.99.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Console at Launch – 24th October 2013 – By Scott Barker

X-One:PS4

With the Xbox One launching on November 22 here in the UK and the Playstation 4 launching one week later on November 29, the big question posed to gamers is: Will you be buying the Playstation 4 or Xbox One? It’s very much a two horse race in the next generation console war between Sony and Microsoft, and getting a head-start out of the gates is of vital importance. The Xbox 360 launched a full year before the release of the Playstation 3, and consequently the PS3 has never quite managed to catch up with the amount of Xbox 360 units that have been sold. Both launch within a week of each other this time around, though, and a lot of gamers around the world (including myself) won’t be able to afford both. Some may not be able to afford either.

Is It the end of the world if you miss out on the launch of a console, though? Short answer: no. However, as a gamer, do you want to be ahead of the curve and be playing on the future of gaming? Or do you want to be left behind playing on old technology? Each gamer is going to have their own subjective standpoint as to when and why they’ll buy a next generation console, but below I have listed three universal cons and three universal pros to buying a console at launch.

Pro 1: To Finally Play on and own a New Piece of Hardware

We’re at a point in time now where the graphical power and fidelity of videogames and consoles has gotten so enhanced that the lifecycle of consoles is evermore getting longer and longer, with technical geniuses having to find out more and new ways of being able to push the boundaries, while keeping sure it stays as cost effective as possible for the consumer. So cost effective that the hardware itself of the upcoming Playstation 4 will actually be sold at a loss. The longevity of this current generation console cycle, then, is a big reason why a lot of gamers (myself included) can’t wait to get their hands on a new piece of hardware. Having gone hands on with both the Xbox One and Playstation 4, I can confidently say that there is a huge forward leap in terms of power; from enhanced visuals to quickened loading loading times. Minor nuances to some perhaps who aren’t willing to put down mega bucks, but looks are imperative as they’ve ever been to a videogame in this modern age, and no gamer likes waiting for a game to load or to be sitting in a lobby searching for a multiplayer match for long periods of time…

Pro 2: Getting The Most Out of Your Purchase 

…In the next ten years we could be looking forward to the same improvements in the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Two(?), then. For those opting to buy a next generation console on day one, then – arguably – they’re going to get the most out of their purchase if it’s their main gaming platform of choice for the next ten years. If you bought an Xbox 360 from day one, then suffice to say you probably got your money’s worth out of the eight years that you’ve owned it. The same goes for the PS3 which launched in 2006.  At the end of the day, it goes down to personal standpoint on whether or not you feel like you’ve invested enough time in your console and you feel as if you’ve got your money’s worth. Chances are you’re a hardcore gamer and you’re going to more than get your money’s worth if you’re buying a next generation console on day one, though.

Pro 3: To be Part of History 

Yes, to be part of history. It’s not everyday that a console launches. It’s not every month that a console launches. And it’s not even every year that a console launches; it’s years. Both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 will only ever launch once (unless something goes drastically wrong). If you’re attending a midnight launch for either one of the next generation consoles, then I guarantee you won’t forget it. I bought the Playstation Vita at launch just over a year and a half ago now. I remember it well; it was on February 22, 2012. A day like any other to non-gamers – but it was as good as Christmas day to me. That launch ‘buzz’ excitement in the crowded store. That feeling of knowing that the wait is finally over and I can get my hands on a Playstation Vita. To not feel left out when other friends are all on their shiny, new Vitas. Sure, you may be as equally excited to buy a next generation console a year, two years from now, but the world won’t be excited with you.

Con 1:  Day One Purchase Means Premium Price 

I mentioned that I bought the Playstation Vita on day one earlier, and on that day of purchase I was quizzing myself. Asking myself questions such as: ‘Do I really want this?’ ‘Couldn’t I just wait until there’s a price-drop sometime in the future?’ I imagine some people ask themselves such questions when buying a game console or any expensive product, too. Personally speaking, I’m willing to spend the £350/$400 for the Playstation 4. The Xbox One on the other hand, which costs a whopping £429/$500, I am willing to wait for. I’m willing to go out on a whim and say that this time next year there will be an £80/$100 reduction in price, or at least thereabouts, and I know I would have buyers remorse if I didn’t wait for it to come down in price.  If you do wait for it come down in price, then after all you are getting the exact same console as the people who bought it a year or so before you, but they just paid more for it.

Con 2: That Dreaded Post Launch Draught of Games 

So you opted to buy your new console on day one and, good news, you love it. It’s a few months down the line once you’ve finished playing the games you bought at launch and you’re waiting for something new to play. Bad news, I’m afraid. There’s nothing out. You didn’t spend all that money on shiny new hardware to gather dust now, did you? Yes, the dreaded post launch gaming drought. Gamers loathe it, publishers assure us it won’t happen, but once excitement of the launch is over and the dust settles, without fail there doesn’t seem to be any new games on the horizon. There’s really nothing you can do but wait for them to release. If you didn’t buy a console on day one however, then you may never run into this problem at all. You may even have a backlog of great games waiting to be played — which is always a great problem for a gamer to have. Who said there’s anything wrong with being late to the party?

Con 3: You’re Essentially Buying The Console During Its Beta Period

We all remember that dreaded red ring of death that plagued early models of the Xbox 360, don’t we? I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft will have learned their lesson and the red ring won’t be showing up on the Xbox One (well at least we hope it won’t be). And let’s not forget the ‘yellow light of death’ that affected early Playstation 3’s. Not quite as dramatic or damaging as the red ring, but problematic for owners of the PS3 in the early going. When buying a console at its early stages, you’re essentially buying it during its beta stage. Not only are you – potentially – going to have hardware faults, but you’re also going to see plenty of system updates/bug fixes along the way,. So many changes in fact that you may not even recognize the graphic interface of your PS4 or Xbox One ten years from now. The 360 has gone through numerous dashboard changes, and the Playstation 3‘s Playstation Store has had several overhauls too. Other things like Trophies – which are a necessity for some gamers – weren’t added until later on in the Playstation 3’s life cycle. And let’s not even go there with the infamous Playstation Network outage…

So there’s that. My thoughts on the good and the bad that come hand-in-hand with buying a console at launch. Use my sage advice wisely when you’re stuck in decision-limbo on whether to empty your wallet now, or wait a few months – even years, to do so later. Be sure to let us know in the comments below about why you will be, or won’t be, picking up a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One at launch.