The Last of Us was an exceptional, dark, story-driven technical masterpiece that defined a console generation. The Last of Us Part II looks set to do it again. Yes, The Last of Us Part II is dark and sometimes hard to play. Yes, there’s been some unjustified review bombing and conversations about the game’s violence and message. But, wow, is it an epic and important game.
Once you’ve finished the 20-something hour campaign (and play the game a second, third, and fourth time with New Game+), you’ll need something new to play. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Update, 4/1/22: Verified all picks and links still good.
The Last of Us was one of the best games on the PS3. The Last of Us Remastered is still one of the best games on the PS4. If you didn’t replay it in the run-up to Part II‘s release (and you aren’t in need of a serious mental health break from all zombie-related games) then, really, there are few other games we could recommend more.
I don’t think there’s any need to give the original the hard sell treatment. After all, you should know exactly how good it is already.
Play the Last of Us Remastered if: You want to go back and re-experience the whole story from the beginning.
The Last of Us Remastered Hits - PlayStation 4
Go back to where it all started...
Naughty Dog developed two big critically acclaimed series over the last decade: The Last of Us and Uncharted.
While both share very similar game mechanics, the Last of Us games are as dark and serious as the Uncharted games are lighthearted fun. Instead of struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, in any of the Uncharted games you’re hunting for hidden treasure and mythical artifacts. Ammo and resources aren’t exactly everywhere, but there’s a lot less scrounging for a few shells just so you can get through the next section. And the stories are just as awesome—with no clickers.
All the Uncharted games are great, but if I had to recommend one to play right now, it’d be Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. It’s a sequel/expansion/spin-off to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (which is also excellent) and nowhere near as popular. Instead of Nathan Drake, you play as Chloe Frazer—a character from the earlier games. Even if you’ve played all the other Uncharted games, there’s a good chance you skipped Lost Legacy.
Otherwise, you won’t go far wrong grabbing Uncharted 4 or the remaster of all the original PS3 games.
Play Uncharted 4 if: You want something that plays similarly but won’t terrify you.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End PS4
The best Uncharted game nobody has played.
In The Last of Us, you spend a lot of time sneaking and hiding so you can overcome vastly more powerful enemies. You’re never the one with an advantage.
The Dishonored games are a little different. Instead, you’re a killing machine capable of taking out dozens of guards with super-powerful attacks and magic abilities. Stealth is an option—but it’s not something you’re forced into because you’re powerless.
The Dishonored games are still stealth/action-adventure games, but they lean a lot more into the action side of things. They’re also first person, and you never have to worry about not having the tools or powers to cause total mayhem. You’re nearly always the most powerful person in any encounter.
Of course, the story isn’t quite as strong as The Last of Us—but that’s kind of a given. The first game follows Corvo Attano, the Empress’ bodyguard who’s framed for her murder, on his quest for revenge. The second, set two decades later, lets you play as either Crovo or the Empress’ daughter, Emily.
Play Dishonoured if: You want a palate cleanser where you’re the powerful one.
Dishonored 2 - PlayStation 4
No need to hide or scrounge, you're the one with all the power.
Days Gone is a third-person horror/survival game set a few years after a pandemic that’s turned most of the population into murderous zombies, so if you want a different take on the post-apocalypse, it might be the right game to pop into your PS4.
Look, to be clear, Days Gone is not a game of The Last of Us‘ caliber. It’s a fun open-world adventure—with a lot of slow-moving story and more than a few flaws. You’re Deacon St. John, a man with a motorbike struggling to deal with the death of his wife Sarah—who he soon finds out isn’t dead after all. It doesn’t have the heart of The Last of Us or the polish, and that’s okay. It’s still a fun game that’s worth the time you’ll put into it—especially if you’re a huge zombie fan like our editor, Cam.
Play Days Gone if: You want to keep the zombie train rolling.
Days Gone PS4 Playstation 4
Days Gone isn't as good as The Last of Us---but it's still worth playing if you're big into zombies.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world RPG set in a non-zombie post-apocalyptic world. (Though, there are robot dinosaurs.) You control Aloy, a hunter looking to discover the truth about her past as she explores widely, takes down robots, and hunts out resources to craft and trade with. It’s got all the usual open-world stuff—plus monster robots.
What sets Horizon Zero Dawn apart from the many mediocre open-world RPGs being churned out, is the superb story, stunning graphics, and sheer originality of the premise. It’s easy to sink dozens of hours into.
Horizon Zero Dawn has very little in common with The Last of Us Part II—except that you can use a bow and they’re two of the absolute best games available on the PS4. If you want something totally different but also awesome, it’s the one to pick up next.
Play Horizon Zero Dawn if: You need to play another generation-defining game straight away.
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition Hits - PlayStation 4
Follow one of the PS4's defining games with another.
The thing I love most about The Last of Us games is how much they make me care about the story. It’s not a loose framework used to justify mass murder—it’s at the heart of everything. Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2, the sequel-but-really-a-prequel, does the same.
Over about 60 hours, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the gradual collapse of Dutch’s Gang—the chain of events that sets up the original game. You play as Arthur Morgan, a gruff gunslinger who might just care a bit more than he lets on.
Gameplay-wise, RDR2 is a different beast to The Last of Us. They’re both third-person shooters, but RDR2 makes the shooting part a lot easier. Guns are powerful and ammo is plentiful. You rarely have to hide for your life.
But for all that, they kind of play similarly. Both games take their time and actions feel weighty. You never feel like you’re capable of sprinting forever or jumping over buildings. They’re grounded in as much reality as a Western fantasy and a zombie apocalypse game can be.
Play Red Dead Redemption 2 if: You want an equally epic open-world game with a Wild West feel.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
If it's the story that you love, you won't go far wrong here.
There are few games that are the equal of The Last of Us Part II, but there are games that are worthy of being played after. Personally, I’m back playing the Uncharted games. I needed something lighter!