Hunters and Fireflies: A Guide to The Last of Us’ Factions

February 11, 2014

I’ve been a solo gamer for as long as I can remember. Call it selfish or introverted, but I’ve always preferred investing my time in single-player campaigns, whilst actively avoiding most forms of multiplayer. It was much to my surprise, then, when The Last of Us’ Factions mode sunk it hooks into me mid-last year.

Most likely, The Last of Us will be back on our radars with it’s sole story DLC, Left Behind, releasing this week. As such, if you haven’t tried your hand at Factions yet, now could be as good a time as any. Below I’ve provided a few helpful pointers which may assist with Factions’ somewhat steep learning curve and unique brand of stealthy combat.

Stick together

Generally the key strategy in any Factions game. Granted, nothing’s stopping you going it alone, but your best chance of survival is always with your teammates; in a downed state you’ll be at their mercy, and you’ll be up much quicker when multiple allies are healing you.

Similarly, lone wolf antics are quickly deterred in Factions, as the consequences for leaving yourself exposed are much more dire than in most other multiplayer games. Health doesn’t recharge, crafting and healing takes up a few precious seconds, and your character will reel and leave you vulnerable upon taking damage. As such, having a few extra bodies around will be of benefit if the enemy takes you by surprise.

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Play Supply Raid or Interrogation first

There are three modes in Factions – Supply Raid, Survivor and Interrogation. The Last of Us’ most classic mode is Survivor, but much earlier on it was easily my least favourite. This is because Survivor gives you one life per round, with each round lasting four minutes. If you’re still adjusting to Factions’ gritty combat and haven’t memorised each map, you’ll open the door to frustration.

In other words, being excluded from a match fifteen seconds in gets old really fast. As an alternative, try your hand at Factions’ other modes first, as these will afford respawns which will help you improve at a significantly faster rate. After that, you’ll be better prepared to take on Survivor mode.

Be wary of ‘baiting’

A common tactic among players it to down an opponent and wait for their teammates to come to their aid. With three teammates gathered round a single player, a well-placed molotov can eliminate an entire team in one go. As such, always approach a downed player with caution and rotate the right thumbstick while healing them. This helps you stay in touch with your surroundings, as they game’s camera will centre during the healing animation and leave you vulnerable to attack.

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Select ‘No Parties’

Veteran teams coordinating with mics will almost always take down a randomly assorted group with no communication. Usually, these groups are high levelled with extra points to spend in their loadouts, meaning they’re already at a significant advantage. Unless you have a team to match them, opt for the “No Parties” selection in the Factions lobby to even up match-making and help avoid any tedious, one-sided affairs.

Look/listen for in-game hints

There are plenty of ways a player can score one shot kills in Factions, but these are balanced out nicely by some helpful indicators. If an opponent is lining you up for a headshot, you’ll catch a glint of their scope in the distance. Likewise, a strange red glow behind waist-high cover means a molotov is likely coming your way. Hear a hissing sound? You’ve probably encroached upon a nail bomb and would be advised to start running. Learning to look out for these subtle clues can give you that extra second to respond accordingly, which in Factions is often the difference between life and death.

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Mark your opponents

You can mark your opponents by pressing R3 when they’re in your crosshairs, revealing their position to your allies for a limited time. Marking is extremely easy to do, rewards you with salvage for crafting, and can be achieved at distance. This is ideal if you’re just starting out and playing a support role, as you can still make meaningful contributions to your team while hanging back from the action. As you put more points into Marking later on, you can also reveal multiple enemies at once, and track their movements through walls.