The Last of Us – Time Progression

We’re coming down to the wire now folks, with only one more teaser article left before the big review hits. Today we’ll be looking at how Naughty Dog solved an interesting problem. First let’s look at what that problem was. How do you evolve character relationships when players typically only play these characters for a few days? How does one keep a city from becoming boring when players are playing through very similar areas?


The answer, time progression. The game is actually broken down into seasons. After players progress through certain chapters, the story will advance a few months. This not only helps with character progression, and making the bond Joel and Ellie share that much stronger, but it also helps solidify other relationships with other characters they meet. It makes it that much more powerful when something happens to said characters.

The setting is also affected by the passage of time, but in two distinct ways. The first is rather obvious, with changes in weather, the environments will look and behave differently. The second is a little more complex. Given players are exploring a world gone mad, some twenty years after the world went to hell, certain areas will look vastly different than others depending on how long people stayed in said location. Take the sewers as an example. A large group of people lived in the sewers for a number of years before leaving the area. Because of this, you can still see traces of humanity all over the place, whereas other areas that were abandoned twenty years ago, look completely barren and lifeless. The passage of time has many meanings in The Last of Us, but all are important and all have a direct impact on the game.


When you finally finish the game, sit back and let everything soak in. It’s then when you realize just how perfectly intertwined all these various elements are. From the graphics, to the audio, to the gameplay, and the time progression, The Last of Us is a masterpiece that comes along once a generation. If you weren’t hyped before, I’ve got one more article to try and convince you before the big review. Let’s hope I’ve done my job correctly, and all of you reading this pick the game up on June 14th.

4 thoughts on “The Last of Us – Time Progression”

  1. jarrod yours thoughts and prereviews are amazing!
    you rule bro!!!. From Argentina my admiration to your work

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