I FINALLY finished The Last of Us on Grounded Mode. It wasn’t easy and many parts were downright frustrating. However, overall Grounded Mode forced me to approach almost every level in a completely different way. I quite enjoyed the challenge and wanted to share my experiences. Because this playthrough was so extensive, I’m simply going to mention the highlights in several sections broken down by Chapter.
Chapter 6: The Suburbs
The sniper challenge (when the sniper is shooting at you from the house) was ridiculously difficult and I’m not exaggerating when I say I probably died 50 times trying to get this right. I finally did find a way to run and duck my way up the street fairly quickly. When you move up the center of the street, using nearby vehicles for cover I made it almost up to the front where the 15 passenger van is. At that point I moved off to the side to flank the sniper from behind. All you have to do is distract the 4 guys that come looking for you and you can enter the building where the sniper is hiding and take him out easily.
The sewers were pretty terrible. I spent way too much time trying to stealth around and hole up in the bedroom to take the Clickers and Stalkers out. Don’t do that. All you have to do is run really fast (dodging a couple Stalkers and two Clickers along the way) to the left and up the ramp where the ladder is (you need to get to the ladder to move onto the next scene). Two Clickers and 1 (potentially 2) Stalkers will follow you which you can easily melee or shoot. Once you take them down, you don’t even have to worry about the rest of them! Simply climb up the ladder with Sam and you’re on your way.
Chapter 7: Tommy’s Dam
John showed me a trick on how to completely skip the bandits in the first part of the power plant fight. As soon as Tommy yells out “Stop them! Don’t let them into the building!”, run as fast as you possibly can around to the left of the gunfight, up the stairs and through the window of the control room. If you can get through without being seen or shot at, you can actually skip the whole initial fight and it will activate Part Two of the scene which is when Ellie and Maria are trapped in the back room and you have to go rescue them.
Chapter 8: The University
Note: you can actually skip the Bloater in the dorm room. After you scavenge the dorm rooms, you can sneak past the Bloater without being seen and exit through the door at the end of the hallway. If you’re worried, you can throw a bottle and send him in the other direction. The hardest part about this was simply escaping the university after the bandits are alerted to your presence. As long as you stay hidden, you can pretty much stealth around and take each of these guys out quietly. Be careful coming around the corner once you are able to exit the building on the landing–there’s another guy outside right before you exit.
Chapter 9: Lakeside Resort
The most difficult part of this is fighting off the Runners, Stalkers and Bloater in the cabin with David. I saved up a nail bomb and Molotov cocktail for this very occasion. These can take out the Bloater very easily. It’s staying alive until the Bloater shows up that is the problem–you will have limited ammo and supplies regardless because you’re stuck with whatever Ellie has. I drew them into the hallway so all you have to do is take out a couple more that drop through the ceiling and you have a lot of space to run away and get a good angle to either shoot them with the rifle or whatever arrows you have left. Arrows (if they do not break on impact) can be retrieved again once they’ve been used which is very helpful. Once the Bloater comes though, you have to run back into the room (you will get trapped by the spores he throws if you stay in the hallway).
Chapter 10: Bus Depot
You actually don’t need to engage any of the Bloaters in the tunnel! This was quite a relief, because when I first tried to beat this on Normal I spent a LONG time trying to stealth take them out and then fight them off with shotgun shells. As long as you can sneak past the first group, all you need to do is take out the 3 Runners hiding (and asleep so it’s easier!) in the hallway off to the side. Then you can draw away the rest of the Clickers and Bloaters using a bottle. You may still have to sneak by a Clicker or Runner that’s asleep but that’s fairly easy.
Chapter 11: Firefly Lab
This time through, I didn’t waste my time trying to stealth take down everyone. All you need to do is run really fast to the right and then move around stealthily to get around the guards with the flashlights by the West Hallway. I found it easier to take down the 2 guys who are walking around with flashlights. Once up the West stairwell, I hid behind the reception desk while the guards run by (they run right by and then leave so you should be safe), and then I take down the guard that comes running out of the hallway doors. Once upstairs, you can actually get through the whole next floor if you stay low and keep to the right. The hardest part is actually getting through the door — I simply Molotov cocktailed the guys hiding by the door and then got through to get upstairs to rescue Ellie.
Overall, I enjoyed the game so much more in Grounded mode. It is even more challenging and realistic (“grounded?”) and ultimately rewarding on this insane difficulty level. I was not anticipating this game to work so well on a second playthrough. *Since starting this original Grounded playthrough I have already started and finished a 2nd playthrough on Grounded. This was even more enjoyable because I already knew how to beat it! I think I need to take a break from this game though so I’ll have a moratorium on Last of Us talk for now….