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The Last of Us 2 twist that is dividing fans

With a release as large and important as The Last of Us Part 2, it's no surprise to find fans feeling any number of different ways about it. Some love it. Some hate it. Some have managed to feel one way or the other without having played it at all. You can browse through Metacritic and take in a mess of conflicting reviews, which are either legitimate criticisms, fans lashing out at developer Naughty Dog for perceived wrongs, or some mix of the two. Again, no surprise.

While some critiques of the newest PlayStation exclusive may seem a bit unfair, though — or perhaps extremely unfair — there are a few fans discovering something very important about this game that didn't make it into the marketing campaign. As players progress in The Last of Us Part 2, they're slowly realizing that this title isn't anything like its predecessor.

If you haven't played Naughty Dog's latest release yet, this is where you might want to stop reading. Heavy spoilers are ahead.

The Last of Us Part 2 has you playing through a fair amount of the game as Ellie, which shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who followed this game prior to its launch. Ellie is on a mission for revenge, having watched her father figure, Joel, be brutally murdered before her eyes.

The plot — for a time — is about what you'd expect. Ellie travels to Seattle, where Joel's killer is located, and does a lot of what she and Joel both did in The Last of Us. She sneaks through dark, abandoned buildings, looting along the way. She kills those standing in her path — infected and humans alike. She tracks down almost every individual present during Joel's murder and crosses their names off of her list. Then she finally comes face to face with the character who ended Joel's life.

At that point, the game changes in a very big way. No longer are you playing as Ellie. Instead, you're playing as Abby — Joel's killer. And you play through the same period of time you did with Ellie, but from Abby's perspective. It's a huge twist you may not have seen coming.

It's understandable how this dramatic shift might not be everyone's cup of tea. The game was heavily advertised as Ellie's revenge tour. Players expected a game where Ellie would go tearing through hordes of enemies on her way to finding closure for whatever tragedy took place. For a while, many believed that tragedy would have something to do with her love interest, Dina. That, it seems, was one of many Naughty Dog head fakes.

But The Last of Us Part 2 throws players for a loop by making Abby a bigger part of the story, and by having players control her. And as Abby's tale unfurls, it presents an uncomfortable truth that wasn't as clear in the earlier Ellie chapters. As you meet Abby's friends — those you cut down as Ellie — you start to realize that the world you inhabit isn't so black and white after all.

Abby is just a girl — just like Ellie. She cares about people. She plays fetch with dogs. And she's flawed, but not inherently evil. She, too, had revenge on her mind when she killed Joel. Her father was the Firefly surgeon who would have operated on Ellie and developed a cure had Joel not gone on a killing spree to save her in The Last of Us. In between the two games, Abby was preparing for the moment she'd encounter Joel. She put in the work to track him down, and when she finally did, she took his life in the name of avenging her dad.

In Abby's world, Joel was the villain. By being forced to play as Abby — and perhaps even having her character grow on you — it puts the characters you previously grew fond of in an entirely different light. It might make you realize that what Joel and Ellie did during The Last of Us wasn't all that great. Because you were controlling them, it might make you feel that what you did wasn't all great.

And when you consider what you do as Ellie in The Last of Us Part 2 — shooting and stabbing your way through Abby's friends to get to her — you might feel very conflicted about what was right and what was wrong. It's understandable that players who aren't comfortable carrying those thoughts might not like that The Last of Us Part 2 makes them do it anyway.

It's safe to say this twist will be a huge topic of conversation around the game for years to come. Some simply feel misled by what they thought would be an Ellie-focused experience. Others may not appreciate the mirror it holds up. Regardless, you can expect to see more thoughts — both good and bad — about Abby and about the rest of The Last of Us Part 2 as more people finish it.