You may have heard that The Last of Us 2 has been delayed indefinitely from its May 29 release date. According to a tweet from PlayStation, “the global crisis is preventing [Sony’ from providing the launch experience our players deserve.”
The good news is that the game is nearly finished. The better news is that the Tom's Guide staff has compiled a list of games that can tide you over until then. These games have something in common with The Last of Us, whether it's the same developer, a similar deuteragonist setup or even just a gritty post-apocalyptic setting.
While The Last of Us is a unique experience and there's nothing else quite like it, these games hit some of the same notes. Here are some great titles to try out while you wait for The Last of Us 2.
(Also, let's get this out of the way up front: No, the Infected in The Last of Us aren't technically zombies. But they do fill the same functional role as zombies in the plot, so let's not be pedantic here.)
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Like The Last of Us, A Plague Tale: Innocence casts you as a protective character in a close-knit relationship, trying to survive against an apocalyptic plague. The major difference is that this game takes place in the past rather than the future. In this game, you play as Amicia de Rune: a teenage girl in 14th-century France, who must escort her younger brother, Hugo, across the plague-ridden countryside. Along the way, they'll face down an army of rats, as well as the bloodthirsty knights of the Inquisition. Since the protagonists aren't fighters, you'll need to rely on stealth in most situations, giving both the gameplay and the story some definite Last of Us vibes.
If the "broken middle-aged man forges relationship with surrogate daughter" story was your favorite part of The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite offers a similar experience — but it's much, much darker, if you can believe that. In an alternate-history 1912, disgraced soldier Booker deWitt travels to the floating city of Columbia to track down a young woman named Elizabeth. Instead of turning her in to settle a gambling debt, Booker teams up with her against Zachary Comstock: a religious zealot whose racist, eschatological screeds threaten to tear the whole city apart. Booker and Elizabeth's relationship grows organically over time, culminating in a scene that's both incredibly clever and profoundly moving.
God of War (2018)
If you want two emotionally distant characters trekking across a forbidding landscape, stopping occasionally to do battle with hideous beasts, God of War (2018) is one of your best options. This sequel to God of War III is also a soft reboot, focusing on an older and somewhat more subdued Kratos, who must journey across the Norselands with his son, Atreus. The two characters must mend their broken relationship, as well as take down a variety of trolls, elves, dragons and other mythological monsters. While God of War is heavier on combat and less grounded than The Last of Us, the fraught bond between the two main characters rings incredibly true.
You can't talk about post-apocalyptic media without at least mentioning Mad Max. This tetralogy of films spawned an underrated open-world game entitled, simply, Mad Max. Like the movies that inspired it, Mad Max is much weirder and more over-the-top than The Last of Us. But it's still got enough similarities to merit a recommendation. You play as Max, who wanders across the ruined vestiges of civilization, finding supplies and trying to hold together fragile communities as he goes. You'll have to deal with greedy bandits, petty warlords and the oppressive wilderness as you go. Just be warned that there's no strong core relationship in the game — unless you count the one between Max and his beloved V8.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Red Dead Redemption is a fairly high-minded and sober Western, so it should come as no surprise that Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is more "Gothic horror" than "campy zombie adventure." This standalone expansion pack casts you as outlaw John Marston, who aims to find a cure for a zombie plague in the frontier city of Beecher's Hope in 1911. While a lot of games add zombie modes for pure chaotic silliness (Call of Duty, among others), Undead Nightmare's tone is still fairly dark and earnest. While the story mimics Red Dead Redemption in many ways, Undead Nightmare's plot doesn't actually cross over at any point, meaning that even Red Dead neophytes can pick this one up.
Resident Evil 2 (2019)
While the Resident Evil 2 remake isn’t quite as grim The Last of Us, it's still got a number of similarities. You'll control two protagonists who are more or less on their own during a zombie outbreak, you'll fight a variety of nightmarish creatures and you'll have to make the most of limited weapons and other supplies. Thankfully, making your way through the game is much easier now than it was back in 1998, thanks to smoother controls, better graphics and a much-improved camera. For those who have never played it, Resident Evil 2 stars police officer Leon Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they fight their way through zombie-infested Raccoon City.
State of Decay
The Last of Us wasn't just about fighting the Infected and moving from place to place; it was also about finding small bastions of civilization along the way. In State of Decay, you'll travel the post-apocalyptic countryside and fight off zombies with a variety of weapons, but you'll also get to build up bases as you go. A big part of State of Decay is finding other survivors and putting them to work making food, repairing vehicles and keeping an eye out for undead intruders. With more than a dozen playable characters, the relationships between them don't take center stage the way that Joel and Ellie's does, but each one has unique traits, which can help or hinder them as the story progresses.
Telltale's The Walking Dead
While Telltale's The Walking Dead is a point-and-click adventure game rather than a third-person action/stealth title, it's still the closest match I could think of in terms of tone. In the game's first season, you play as Lee Everett: a history professor who finds himself taking care of a girl named Clementine during the zombie apocalypse. The bond between Lee and Clementine is very much like the bond between Joel and Ellie, particularly since the situation in which they find themselves is very similar. As the story progresses, Clementine gets more and more competent on her own, leading the plot in surprising directions for the second, third and fourth games in the series.
Tomb Raider (2013)
The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot is not entirely similar to The Last of Us. You play as a lone protagonist in a modern-day setting. There are no zombie analogues; there's no global pandemic; there's no touching relationship between protagonist Lara Croft and a younger ward. (She has a best friend named Sam who needs rescuing, but it's not nearly the same kind of bond.) Still, there are some similarities in gameplay. Like The Last of Us, Tomb Raider features an agreeable mix of action and stealth; if one goes awry, you can usually fall back on the other. It also has a fairly dark setting that challenges Lara to stay good in a world that seems evil.
Since the Uncharted series comes from Naughty Dog, there are plenty of similarities between the two franchises. But it's not until Uncharted 4 that Nathan Drake's adventures achieve the same emotional resonance as The Last of Us. In Uncharted 4, Nate and his brother Sam travel the world in search of pirate treasure, but it's not a happy-go-lucky adventure. Nate spends the whole game grappling with his lover for globetrotting and his responsibilities to his family back home — particularly when the former begins to endanger the latter. Uncharted 4 tells a heartfelt story about broken families reconnecting, and also has the tight stealth and gunplay you'd expect from a Naughty Dog production.