Naughty Dog's upcoming post-apocalyptic epic The Last of Us will incorporate the best and worst of humanity. On a journey across the United States, tough-guy Joel and his young stead Ellie will brave all manner of dangers (including other human beings), but the Infected may pose the most grotesque threat of all. The Infected are humans that have succumbed to a fungal infection sweeping the nation, and at a private press event in Hollywood last week, Naughty Dog lifted the veil on this mysterious enemy.
The first type of Infected explored were the Runners. Runners are only in the first stage of infection; as such, the fungus that attacks the brain before advancing out through the eyeballs has not begun to protrude from the body. Still, subjects experience partial blindness during this phase. Although Runners will attack humans zealously, with a ferocious need to spread the fungal spores, Naughty Dog says they are at least somewhat aware of their actions. As such, Runners experience feelings of helplessness, as if being forced to watch their bodies commit atrocious acts from within a glass cage.
In-game, Runners can be dispatched through a variety of means, including bullets, fire, and melee strikes. Speed is their advantage, as any more than two or three can easily overwhelm you.
The Clickers, meanwhile, are sightless breed of Infected that represent the third stage of human transformation. Because the Clickers' heads are almost entirely engulfed in fungal growths, they are completely blind and must rely on echolocation to pinpoint prey. Don't mistake their blindness for weakness; Clickers are the most lethal form of Infected currently known, and allowing one within arm's reach almost certainly means instant death. That said, their lack of sight can still be used to your advantage - you can approach from any angle (even with a flashlight!), so long as you're extremely quite and use as many obstacles as possible to disrupt their echolocation. Unfortunately, strangling is completely ineffective - you'll need a shiv to perform a stealthy takedown.
A third breed of Infected - representing the second stage of infection - was shown last week, but Naughty Dog isn't ready to talk details or give this type's name. For this variety, all we know is that the fungus has already begun to consume the eyesockets and grow upward. As a result, we expect second-stage Infected to be completely blind, but we wouldn't surprised if their sense of hearing is extra keen to compensate.
We'll have more on The Last of Us throughout the week, including developer quotes and a full interview. In the meantime, check out our hands-on impressions, and let us know which breed of Infected frightens you more in the comments below.