The Last of Us plot: what is the story of the PlayStation video game - when was it released?

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HBO has adapted the story of Joel and Ellie for TV

The Last of Us is one of the most iconic and influential video games of the last decade.

Upon its release in summer of 2013, it was hailed as having one of the best stories in gaming. It has been cited as influence for games such as 2018 reboot of God of War (GOW) and other story driven experiences.

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The story of Joel and Ellie has captured the hearts of millions, spawning a remaster, remake and a sequel. Hollywood attemped to adapt the story into a movie for years prior to HBO picking it up for a series.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as the main characters, with Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, Bill Offerman and Murray Barlett among the other members of the cast. It will make its highly anticipated debut on Sunday (15 January) in the US and Monday (16 January) in the UK.

But what actually was the story of the original game? How does it compare to the synopsis of the TV show? Here is all you need to know:

What is the plot of The Last of Us game?

On the PlayStation website, the plot for The Last of Us: Part I - the 2022 reboot built from the ground up for the PS5 - reads: “In a ravaged civilization, where infected and hardened survivors run rampant, Joel, a weary protagonist, is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of a military quarantine zone. However, what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal cross-country journey.”

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Merle Dandridge as Marlene & Natasha Mumba as Kim Tembo (Credit: HBO)Merle Dandridge as Marlene & Natasha Mumba as Kim Tembo (Credit: HBO)
Merle Dandridge as Marlene & Natasha Mumba as Kim Tembo (Credit: HBO) | HBO

The video game is split into roughly five sections, it starts with a prologue set in 2013 depicting the start of the outbreak before jumping 20 years to 2033. The rest of the game is split into Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring, following Joel and Ellie on their journey from Boston out west to Salt Lake City.

What is the description for HBO series?

The plot outline for the TV adaption of The Last of Us closely echoes that for the video game. On its website, HBO says: “The series takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.”

What changes have been made for the show?

Despite the plot descriptions reading almost identical for the HBO series and The Last of Us the game, there are some changes. One of the major alterations is the year that the story starts, in the original the outbreak was in 2013 and then the time jumped to 2033, but for the show it begins in 2003 and the time jump takes it to 2023.

The show has also made changes to the way the infection works, with it no longer spreading via spores. For a more details breakdown of all the differences between The Last of Us video game and the HBO series, read our breakdown.

When was The Last of Us game released?

The PS3 game was initially released in June 2013, before being remastered for the PS4 a year later. The PS5 remake of The Last of Us came out in September 2022.

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