I felt like there wasn’t enough debate around The Last of Us Part II, so I decided to create a list of the best companions in the game. One of the things that made The Last of Us one of the most beloved games of all time was developer Naughty Dog nailed the companion role with Ellie. Most games struggle to make us care about the wellbeing of our comrade, or worse, can make their presence annoying (think Navi saying “Hey Listen” or Tifa saying she needs a shower 143 times). With Ellie, all we wanted to do was make sure she was safe, but she also made us feel safe. The missions that had Joel and Ellie separated were the most stressful in the game and made them reuniting a tremendous relief.
With The Last of Us Part II, the plot required us to have several companions throughout the story. If we’re being honest, some were much better than others. I put together a list of the best companions, and because I’m neurotic, I broke the list down into tiers. The tiers show large gaps between the members of the list. If two characters are in the same tier, it means that you could talk me into switching their order, but if person A is in tier 3 and person B is in tier 4, they are essentially in different leagues.
To earn the title of ‘companion’, that person had to go on a mission with the player that involved killing clickers or people. Abby’s Dad and Owen, for example, do not count.
The criteria I used to determine the rank was imagining who would be the best person to go on a dangerous cross-country trip with. Similar to what Joel and Ellie did in the first installment. I can break this down into two questions:
- How enjoyable the person would be for long periods of time.
- How useful they are in a fight.
This also happens to be the two questions I use to rank my friends.
Tier 5 – The “I would rather travel with a Clicker than this person” tier
Making this list wasn’t easy, but one choice that took about half a second was putting Mel last. Her fighting skills are subpar from what we see. Sure, you can say it’s because she is what scientists call ‘hella pregnant’, but it was her choice to have a baby in a dystopian zombie-filled world. The pregnancy may have been an accident, but any doctor should know how birth control works.
But the thing that puts Mel dead last and in her own tier is how awkward she makes things. She seemed to be a nice person, but every scene she was in reminded me of a generic high school movie. Yes, Abby used to bang Owen, but there are more important things going on in the world, Mel. Her one redeeming moment was when she saved Yara’s life by amputating her arm. So if you’re ever traveling with Mel, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you won’t die if your arm gets smashed by a giant hammer.
Tier 4 – The “Would have been ranked higher if they didn’t have their arm smashed by a giant hammer” tier
We didn’t get to see Yara in her prime. A brute Seraphite took away her left arm before we got a chance to see her use it. But considering Lev said she was even better than him at using a bow, we can dream about what could have been. Unfortunately, she still has to receive a low grade for fighting. Her only real showing was in cutscenes where she saves Abby from both Tommy and Isaac. But she only succeeded in these instances because they either didn’t know or forgot she was there.
Fighting may not be her thing, but Yara scores better in the personality section. Hours after losing her arm, she goes on a dangerous mission to save her little brother, Lev. AKA: she’s a badass. Similar to how coaches want players who leave it all on the field, I want my companion to go out there and give it their all. She was also willing to grow as a person. Yara admitted she was angry at Lev at first about his decision, but understanding after listening to him explain himself. Few things are more impressive than someone acknowledging they were wrong and learning from it. If everyone could be more like Yara in that regard, the world would be a better place.
Tier 3 – The “This could actually work” tier
From the moment you see Jesse, he’s someone you want to be friends with. He has the personality of someone you could spend 6 straight weeks with and not have a single argument. It didn’t even phase him when Ellie broke bro-code and started seeing Dina one week after they split.
He’s also a talented fighter. Despite not being that much older than Ellie, he already has a lot of responsibility—which we see when he orders the groups getting ready to go out on routes. You don’t get to be in that position if you’re a slouch. We get to see his skills firsthand when he and Ellie escape the WLV’s by stealing their truck. Which leads us to his one weakness. Jesse can’t drive for shit. In 2 minutes and 30 seconds, he hit three solid stationary objects and a lake. The circumstances were hectic, but I expect a little more control. He’s the one friend where if he’s driving, everyone is a little on edge and you instinctively press imaginary brakes multiple times.
You might be thinking Dina should be higher on this list. After all, she’s an outstanding fighter—she killed numerous henchmen and saved Ellie’s life from the WLF’s—and she’s a top-notch road trip companion. She got me when she did the “I think the horse might be sick… because he sounds a little hoarse” bit. This was mostly because of the relief I felt knowing I didn’t have to go on a side quest to find horse medicine—but it’s still nice to have someone around who tries to put you at ease.
So then why is Dina tier 3? Well, nothing is worse than finding out your road trip buddy is pregnant. At least with Mel, she could still waddle around, but in Dina’s instance, her pregnancy left her helpless. Unlike with Mel, though, it’s harder to blame Dina for getting pregnant. I’m guessing she didn’t receive the best sex education growing up.
Who wouldn’t want to travel with a dog? They are 10/10 companions; humans literally bred them to be our friends. Having a companion who will love you unconditionally is a dream come true, even more so in a world as chaotic as this game. Plus, when you’re bored, you can play fetch or teach her new tricks.
I have to admit Alice’s fighting ability disappointed me. In the time I was with her, she only attacked one infected. Every other time she just ran around. I’m guessing this was because of programming issues and had nothing to do with Alice the character, but I still have to dock points. What is most upsetting about this is that the dogs I fought while playing as Ellie had no issue hunting me down and ripping my face off.
Tier 2 – The “I could take on an entire city with them by my side” tier
Manny is a bit of a stereotype. 90% of the time, if there is a Latino character in any medium, it portrays them as hot-tempered, aggressive, and great with the ladies. But if I’m being honest, I would rather hang out with a Manny type than someone with less charisma. Just the fact that he swears in Spanish makes him a must-hang. I don’t know what ‘pendejo’ or ‘puta’ means, and I refuse to look it up because not knowing makes them seem cooler. He’s also the kind of guy who wants everyone to get along. He tried his best to get Abby and Mel to be friends again; meaning even if you got in an argument with him. he would want to make sure there were no hard feelings.
Manny is by far the most aggressive companion in The Last of Us Part II. While trying to hunt Tommy, he led the charge towards the end and shouted out orders. It was one of the few times in the game I felt like I had a partner rather than a subordinate. I wish more characters would have acted this way. Alas, he was no match for Tommy—but I won’t hold that against him. I don’t think anyone could take Tommy in a fair fight other than maybe his big brother.
In The Last of Us, we got to see a small glimpse into who Tommy was and what he was capable of. The Last of Us Part II showed how dangerous this lovable pony-tailed man can be. First, he saves Abby with the help of Joel from the World War Z-sized hoard of zombies near Jackson. Next, we see him go absolutely Rambo against the WLV’s in Seattle. He wasn’t technically a companion when he was on his rampage, but it’s nice to think your buddy would go through all this if someone killed you with a 5 iron.
It would be fair to assume someone who is an expert at torturing people would not be a fun hang, but Tommy is a sensitive guy. He gives Ellie life and shooting advice during the mission where they snipe zombies. And forces Ellie to hang with Joel, which helped their relationship. Overall, Tommy’s pretty even-keeled when he’s not on a mission for revenge.
Despite the fact that he’s still a child, Lev already emulates Legolas with his bow. He also proved he’s braver than most when he walked across the sky bridges and even more so when he returned to the island where everyone was trying to kill him just for one last chance to reconcile with his mother. When it comes to fighting, Lev is a prodigy. By the time he’s Ellie’s age, Lev will be killing Rat King’s in his sleep.
While everyone can appreciate Lev’s ability in combat, not everyone would want him as a road buddy. But here’s why they’re wrong. We meet Lev when he has no experience with the outside world; all he can talk about is his crazy religion. It’s a downer. But as someone who has worked with kids, 99% are boring (if you have kids, yours are definitely in the 1%). They don’t become interesting until they get a little older than Lev, and the best part is it’s who they hang out with that shapes their personality. Meaning if you adopt Lev as your sidekick, you can mold him into whatever you want. If you want him to be funny, tell lots of jokes. If you want him to hate music, only let him listen to Cardi B. This might seem unethical, but I call it parenting. Either way, he will have a better life than he did on Scar Island and you’ll have your perfect teammate.
Tier 1 – The “Undisputed Companion of the World” tier
Joel didn’t get to be in much of The Last of Us Part II. This turned many fans against the game entirely. I don’t think that’s fair, but I understand—he was one of the most likable characters of all time. I’m biased since he resembles my actual father, but I would put him on the Mount Rushmore of video game Dads along with Kratos, Ethan Mars, and of course, Octodad. The fact people would go through the trouble of creating multiple Metacritic accounts just to review bomb the game is enough evidence that Joel has the “enjoy being around him” card down pat. I would go as far as to say the chapter where he takes Ellie to the museum is one of the most enjoyable missions I’ve ever done in a video game.
When it comes to fighting, no one is better. Only the combination of Joel and Tommy could have rescued Abby from that hoard. Joel being murdered by the person he just saved (a real pendejo move on Abby’s part) stung. But it highlighted that the man who had done some bad things in the past had transformed into an exceptional human being. If he had been in the same situation at the beginning of The Last of Us, I think it’s fair to say he would have left Abby to die. But being a surrogate father to Ellie softened his heart—in short, his only flaw was caring too much. Which is in the same vein as when I claim my only weakness is working too hard during job interviews.
There you have it, the best companions in the Last of Us Part II. Who you would want to spend your time with is subjective (except for dogs). I would love to hear who you would choose as your road companion. And if you haven’t played the game yet and want to see what all the commotion is about, you can get it on Playstation.