As many of you are keenly aware, Naughty Dog has yet to give us any substantial details about its post-apocalyptic, survival-adventure title The Last of Us, outside of a few in-game screenshots and a couple choice details that have sent our minds reeling as we try to imagine what the final experience will end up being. One of the juiciest reveals so far has been that at least some portion of the game will take place in Pittsburgh. Now, from what we’ve seen of the game so far (i.e. not much), the world has become an overgrown monument of decay and terrifying stillness. Similar to the lush and abandoned version of New York City seen in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, TLOU’s vision for Pittsburgh is one that evokes conflicting emotions at every turn.
With this in mind, we thought we’d put together a little walking tour of sorts and present eight Pittsburgh locations that we can’t wait to see transformed into gorgeously dilapidated ruins when it comes time to fighting for our survival in The Last of Us.
1. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Victorian-style Phipps conservatory and botanical gardens were originally donated to the city of Pittsburgh in 1893. The stunning domed welcome center you see above was added in 2005, and would obviously look particularly striking looming out of a hazy dawn fog, the few remaining intact windows covered in thick layers of gunk and mildew and the surrounding grounds, once vibrant and lush, now massively overgrown and rotten. Wouldn’t it be the perfect hideout for a crazy woman (a former botanist turned paranoid survivalist) who has somehow managed to stay alive by keeping herself secluded from the rest of the infected world by living in a bunker built beneath the gardens? (Hint: the answer is yes.)
This West Mifflin-area amusement park dates back to 1898, and aside from having probably the greatest name of any family destination ever, it also features some of the oldest rides and attractions in the country. Naturally, the various themed areas would make for fantastic backdrops for some spooky and visually compelling scenarios. Plus, it would make for a great calm before the storm section where Joel, sensing Ellie is in need of something to keep her from having a complete nervous breakdown, decides to take her to Kennywood in the hopes of giving her at least a sliver of a glimpse of the world before it fell apart. Cue emotional music, and boom, not a dry eye in the house.
3. Duquesne Incline
Another late-19th century landmark, this popular people mover is one of Pittsburgh’s most famous tourist attractions. Positioned on the side of Mt. Washington means you have a nice mix of nature and broken technology, where nature has clearly won the battle and has now overrun the funicular with layers upon layers of foliage and such. I could see Joel and Ellie being tasked with finding some random pieces of machinery and maybe a battery or two to get the cars up and running again to help a camp of people be able to move supplies and injured folks to higher ground. Or as a way to reignite tourism in the decimated city. Baby steps.
4. Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Museums are inherently creepy places to begin with, and not just because the guards look like morticians half the time. Fallout 3 had some of the best post-apocalyptical museums in recent memory, so the idea of seeing the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as a gloomy, dusty headquarters for some large band of survivors would be killer. You also have the whole natural history angle, which fits in perfectly with the game’s overarching, bio-pocalyptic narrative and would make for some spectacular set pieces inside the museum itself. It could be sort of 12 Monkeys style with the tattered dioramas of animals having been overrun and replaced by actual animals seeking shelter from the infected world outside. You really just can’t go wrong with a sprawling, ornately designed complex lying in ruins, so this seems like a no-brainer.
5. Chatham College
No settings wishlist would be complete without the inclusion of at least one place that bears a passing resemblance to The Shining’s Overlook Hotel, and this one is no different. Chatham University’s lush, somewhat secluded campus has all the elements of a killer quest destination: expansive grounds, varying architectural styles, and plenty of buildings and structures to explore. Drop in an eerily nonchalant caretaker, perhaps one who has convinced himself that the world is no different than it was before disease wiped out civilization, and you have one unnerving locale.
6. Benedum Center
There are few things more affecting than confronting irradiated opulence, and scouring through the rotted, vine-infested confines of the once glorious Benedum Center would really hit the spot. There is actually another great scene in 12 Monkeys that takes place in a similar looking theater that had become a hobo haven of sorts. Something similar would play equally well here, especially given how young and innocent Ellie is, and having to protect her in that kind of scum-ridden setting would be absolutely terrifying. I approve of this idea wholeheartedly, largely because there’s a very good chance it would lead to some super dark and disturbing places.
7. Carnegie Science Center
Similar to the Carnegie Natural History Museum, the Carnegie Science Center just screams “Destroy me and frolic in my rotten remains!” At least, that’s what I heard when I saw that dome topped with a giant cone and large red letters in the image above. The riverside positioning would also make for a dramatic water-based landing or escape for our intrepid duo of survivors. Inside, you just know that place is packed with all manner of futuristic exhibits scattered throughout the large complex. And you just know there’s that one room with a large, tattered recreation of the solar system hanging in the middle of it, and at some point during this section that recreation would come crashing down onto the heads of unsuspecting baddies sent in to find the constantly on the run Joel and Ellie. Knowledge can be painful sometimes.
8. Heinz Field
While it will surely drive our own Dana Leahy to the brink of perpetual mourning (as if this year’s playoffs didn’t do that already), traversing the rotting remains of Heinz Field, perhaps on an especially bright moonlight night, would be just incredible. I imagine the mission that takes you there would involve having to infiltrate the stadium to retrieve some valuable item that’s been stolen from our heroic duo (i.e. a car battery, some gasoline, a radio, etc.) by a band of ruthless scavengers. Or whatever said quest might entail. It could also easily be a Thunderdome-ish pit of violence and debauchery that no self-respecting person would get within a mile of (So the Oakland Coliseum?).
Have some location suggestions of your own? Share them in our comments section below.