After playing through The Last of Us, I decided to look into how accurate the locations of the game are.
The talented people at Naughty Dog make great game environments and I was particularly impressed by some of what I saw in the game. Their environments have enough real-world influence to create a strong sense of immersion while they also adjust the layout of buildings (and their colour/textures) to enhance the gameplay.
Indeed, the art direction is so detailed that they included the right area code in some regions; however, we can’t ignore that they also included a sex line.
From here on consider everything to be a spoiler if you don’t want the game ruined.
If you haven’t played it then buy the game now (Amazon link)!
The game starts near Austin, Texas with Joel and his brother trying to escape the start of the end of civilization. At on point you come up to a road sign that gives away your location. Redditor karmamassacre found that place:
20 years later we find Joel in Boston, Massachusetts; shortly then after the characters start their journey west. Their route is never specified but I doubt it was a direct path, but we can still get a good idea of the distance covered. Here’s the journey mapped out by Redditor kbennett14580:
As you can see, there is a lot of ground to cover.
Having visited Boston, I wondered if my memory was wrong or they didn’t follow the actually layout of the city. After researching this post I’m happy to say that my sense of directions isn’t awful. They not only altered the layout of they city they also changed its varying heights.
Despite all of this they were faithful to the transit system except for the official map.
Boston’s transit system is known as the “T” and Last of Us captured the look and feel quite well. Look at the signage and ceiling height in these photos:
One thing Boston has is a lot of brick. Brick buildings are everywhere in the old part of the city (still, a lot were demolished to make room for car culture). This image from the game captures that despite their rearrangement of the city it still feels like Boston.
Back to the height issue, it can be seen in the locations of the skyscrapers above and when looking at the State House. Raising the State House makes it easier to see as a player so that makes sense. The way they captured the building is pretty accurate.
Hope you noticed the duck boats.
Not much to add here, it’s just a generic small town in Massachusetts and looks like it can be anywhere on New England. There is a town named Lincoln near Boston but it the in-game town seems to be an amalgam of small towns. There is no high school in the real town nor is it as big as it is in the game.
First off, yes that yellow bridge is based on a real one, and did you know Pittsburgh loves yellow bridges?
Giant Bomb has already compared real locations in Pittsburgh to the relevant sections of the game.
First off, you enter the city via 376 West to the Boulevard of the Allies and are forced off of the highway near the Crosstown Blvd. This is actually not that far off from what it looks like in real life, and that is likely the highway you’d be on if coming from Boston. The Fort Duquesne Bridge in the distance is not visible, though it’s location is somewhat accurate.
Salt Lake City
The climax of the game is set in Salt Lake City (SLC) and we get to see some of the city. The bus depot is fine, but we really see the city when Ellie notices the giraffes.
The most iconic building is the church on the other side of the park (the park is called Temple Square). The church is the largest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is known as Salt Lake Temple.
Naughty Dog’s interpretation of the church is fairly accurate although they slightly adjusted the density of skyscrapers. A keen observer will note that the mountains have moved closer to SLC.
A SLC newspaper even asked one of the environment artists about the meaning of LDS church. In short, nothing. The park was just a nice vista.
The University of Eastern Colorado doesn’t exist in reality.This is the only region that felt a little too generic for me. It was as if this university could be in anywhere USA. It would only feel out of place if it was set in California or another hot state.
One great thing is that the flamethrower is found here. Where else would one find a homemade flamethrower after the fall of civilization but at a university?
Other places like Jackson County (including the dam) and the Lakeside Resort all looked good to me. I don’t feel the need to examine them like the other locations.