Let’s just get straight down to the point; if you liked the original maps, then you’re going to love these ones.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Naughty Dog are amongst the most talented developers today and without sacrificing any aspects of the core experience, they have pushed the multiplayer for The Last of Us even further.
The Abandoned Map pack comes with four new maps, all of which are excellently designed and push the high intensity tactical tension that the originals were known for. In comparison, these maps are far more deadlier due to the amount of covered that can be taken and how much larger they feel. Use of stealth has really become a huge emphasis, and going at it alone will only get you killed. You or an enemy can easily flank one another, though that goes without saying that a rifleman isn’t perched up high above with a bird’s-eye view. The tension has never felt greater with these new maps.
This one is probably my favorite, just due to the way it’s structured. The Bookstore is plotted right in the middle of a city, and in terms of scale, the level feels condensed due to the large surrounding buildings. Inside the bookstore players can battle it out from high above or down below. Either way the amount of cover can surely change the flow of a battle. In my very first match, as seen above, you can clearly see that with the right amount of skills and the excellent use of cover, a losing team could easily triumph over the winning side.
Based on one of the most memorable moments of the single-player campaign, Suburbs takes place in a simiar small town. The streets are filled with cars, while the sides of the road feature houses with multiple stories. Out of all the maps, I have to say this is probably the most unique one considering how lively, yet abandoned it feels. Plant life has taken a liking to the location and has grown far beyond their normal reach. Buildings are covered in moss, the grass is tall, and every now and then a dust storm picks up in the middle of the match, adding a “dynamic” feel to the battlefield. It gives you that “50′s” vibe do the high contrast color and how the homes look and feel old fashion with all their contents left behind.
Probably the only map I am disappointed with. Unless I am missing something, we were promised Giraffes moving in the background. WHERE ARE MY GIRAFFES!! No, but seriously, if anything, this map feels more like Bill’s Town meets Checkpoint. That doesn’t necessary mean that it’s a bad map – far from it, in fact. I am just saying that it feels “less” new than the other ones. The one thing that Bus Depot does have to offer over the other maps is the thoughtful sound design. The layout is great, but you never really notice the beauty of this map until you stop to listen to what it has to offer. You can hear animals chirping in the background (maybe the Giraffes?), along with a random dog barking. Outside of the map is a city, yet it’s been completely over taken by the wildlife. Despite the absence of actual animals roaming the map, the sounds emulates that feeling that you are indeed surrounded by wildlife.
“Hometown” revisits the epilogue in the story mode. Some time has passed since the outbreak and it appears that refugees have taken a liking to this small town. Defenses have been placed in a condensed area in the center of town. My gripe with The Last of Us’ original selection of maps was that there were only two night maps, one of which (Downtown) is usually skipped during the map voting process. So it’s great to see another night map like Hometown, especially since it offers an eerie feeling with the abandoned remnants of the tenants that lived there. Roaming the map and finding small hiding places where someone possible slept, or even seeing lanterns around are all nice touches. Even some of the buildings are on fire from the chaos that ensued in the Single-player.
Overall, these maps are a welcome addition considering how well designed and immersive they feel. If you are on the fence about buying this, I highly suggest it and would even go as far to say, ‘buy the season pass.’ There’s no doubt after getting my hands on this first DLC pack that the guys over at Naughty Dog are going to continue to produce great DLC for The Last of Us. The antics are rising as they continue to supply us with one of the best, intense, tactical multiplayer experiences yet. Be on the look out for the next DLC, which is set to launch sometime before the end of this year.