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Who pulled it off better? Rockstar or Naughty Dog (RDR2/TLOU II MAJOR spoilers)


Gold Member
There will be spoilers to significant arcs and major characters in this thread from both games. Do not read if you want to avoid. I thought it was an in interesting topic just because of the difference in the ways they went out. There are still some people unhappy with Arthur's end (based on what John does in RDR), or just how he was treated, and there are those who actually hate the way ND did Joel over.

For context the fate of the characters are below:

At the end of TLOU, Joel rescues Ellie and in doing so makes a choice to kill a surgeon about to operate on her. This surgeon had a daughter (the now infamous Abby), who effectively makes it her quest to find Joel and avenge her father. An opportune meeting whilst out on this quest brings the two together. Joel and his brother intervene to actually save Abby from the infected (some would argue this is a far cray from the first game where Joel actively drove past those in need in the first game).

After this, there are introductions (where Abby realises 'Joel') and Abby invites them both back to her settlement. Anyway long story short she eventually brutally beats him and finishes him off with a golf club to the skull while a prostrate Ellie is forced to watch in horror. The story then picks up from there.

Arthur Morgan
Arthur's ending is a bit more complex as there are potentially three endings. But to sum up, Arthur - towards the end of the game - is diagnosed with TB. In those days, it's effectively a death sentence and he is terminally declining. You have a choice to make at the end of the game which is

Help friend escape
Go back for the money

If you've been honorable in the story mode (morality), then a scuffle ends and you are left on the mountain, exhausted and weak and eventually die in the morning sunrise
If you've been dishonorable, Arthur laments the lives they've led and says they are all horrible people. He is then shot in the head by his rival in the gang.
If you choose to go back for the money and abandon your friend, then you get stabbed to death by your rival in the gang after outing him as a mole.

After this, John Marstons story picks up and segues into what we know as RDR.

So who stuck the landing better?

Arthur Morgan.

TLoU Joel is one of my favorite characters and his death was cheap in Part 2.

Both characters are incredible.


Arthur was the best written character of last generation for me.

i remember saying watching the trailers.
Meh a blonde cowboy, how generic!
I was so wrong.
His humanity is incredible, how he analyse his and the gang behaviour is so deep that for the first time in my gaming life I really paid attention to the people of my crew.

first when I heard him coughing, I didn’t pay attention that much.
Then it was more often, I was thinking it sucked for him then the first time he collapsed, I was shocked, no, not him...
I was genuinely sad.

I liked last of us 2, I dig Abby and Joel deserved to die but it was not well written. It could have been more dramatic.


Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead / Hey, there, there goes the Spider-Man
The last of us 2 story was a mess. To bad cause it was a well put together game other wise. It’s like they knew it was fucked so they chopped it up and made you play it out of order to try and hide the fact that it didn’t make sense.

RDR was just great.


You know, I loved Red Dead Redemption (PS3). It is on my top 3 games of that generation (number 2 ahead of the original TLOU). My number one game was Uncharted 2.

However, RDR2 didn't do as much for me personally. It is even fell off from my top 3 of this (past) generation. Still great, but I slightly disappointed.

TLOU Part II, however, came as a surprise for me. I was expecting a same great adventure like the first one, but the story twist makes it even better than Uncharted 4.

My top 3 this (past) gen are: i) The Witcher 3, ii) God of War and iii) TLOU Part 2.
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Sony make cringe trainers.
It's completely different.

From a writing perspective, Arthur's arc is very straightforward. It's the story you've seen told countless times, and gives Arthur the promised redemption in the title, a redemption paid in blood. The only twist here is that instead of Arthur being forced down the redemption path because an external factor, in the case of Joel it's a young girl (also predictable), it's a terminal disease that leads him to confront the man he his and his deeds. He can hear Death's clock ticking, and must choose what kind of man he is willing to be in the final moments of his life. So his death is romanticized, and even though Arthur and John have a very thin relationship as presented in the game story, we the audience are tricked into putting more weight on it on the back that John is the main protagonist of Read Dead Redemption, and we the audience already have a relationship there.

Joel's arc is also very straightforward. Becomes a waste of a man, a shell of his former self, after losing his daughter. Ellie gives him a second lease, an opportunity to become the loving father he once was and redeem himself. Except the twist here is that at the end there's no redemption, no blood sacrifice of his own. Instead a man is unwilling to lose his daughter twice, and he is willing to take "innocent" lives to "save" her, and lie to her about it. It's not that he is wrong in what he does, because there's really no right or wrong there. There are only questions. His death is more powerful, because he is stripped of everything we've come to know about him, he is made defenseless and we the player are made powerless to stop what we know is coming. His death hurts, it doesn't make us sad or filled with pity, it pisses us off and makes us mad and wanting to revolt, to seek revenge.

Joel's death is symbolic of the world he lives in while Arthur's death is a romanticized idea that even a bad man can redeem himself at the end, even through violence. Personally I think TLOU2 did something that is more ambitious, bolder, with more impact. Truer even.
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Both were really impactful for me. Slight edge to TDR2. Joel’s would have been more impactful if it came later in the game with more build up. Though I get he had the hole first game for that and they needed to set up Ellie’s revenge motive early. In any case, two of my favorite games did the last generation.



I didn't enjoy Red Dead Redemption 2. The problem for me personally is that we play the entire game knowing Arthur Morgan was going to die. This is the problem I have with the story being a prequal. The build up to his death wasn't a surprise to me. I was just asking myself, "Ok, how is he going to die?".

As far The Last of Us Part II, I started playing the game knowing Joel was going to die. The reason why I think his was executed better is because of what happened after his death. You play nearly the entire game thinking Ellie hated Joel before his death, but we find out at the end that she was ready to forgive him. I like stories that keeps me invested, and this is what happened throughout Joel's story of TLOU Part II.


Arthur Morgan’s story is the best I’ve ever come across in video games.

Joel Miller’s story arc in the second game is as awful as writing gets.


Arthur Morgan has one of the best stories in the history of video games. What an amazing character.

I agree, exactly this, the ending was so good (yet so sad), fucking awesome game, Joel death was lame, its a shame, i loved TLU1 and Joel was one of my best videogame chars, like Arthur, but arthur ending was so much better, not even a contest.



The whole game I was hoping that Arthur would survive... When he died I felt sad and kinda angry...

When Joel died I was like: ehhh... This is dumb and tasteless... Same shit they did on TLU 1 opening...

TLU2 is an amazing game on the technical and gameplay side.

However, the story and characters are just low effort shock value shit made to please some people for whatever reason. Joel, Ellie and Tommy act so out of what they presented on the first game, that after few hours in the sequel I was like: WTF is going on? Oh wait... I don't care! Just let me kill things.


Neo Member
Neil shit the bed with TLOU2. He gave Joel and Ellie "Last Jedi" treatment. Neil is completely blinded by his political beliefs that he is more concrened about diversity in his games than writting interesting characters and story.


Even though as a game, both are "meh", I think Rockstar have better writers. TLoU2 basically negated all the emotional investment the players build over the first game without any payoff. Druckman et al. know how to hide their mediocre writing behind some really good cinematic direction.


Tlou2 is a much better game. It plays better and story is excellent. Abby and elie stories and arcs are fantastic.

Rdr2 the only good thing is arthur. Story? What story... Gameplay? What gameplay. But I do admit the arc of arthur is very well done. Just way too much filler and same missions
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Iced Arcade

Joel's felt rushed and you were on with the game right away. Arthur I damn near cried over.

Oddly enough I went into both with vastly different thoughts. Joel I thought I was going to be mad and ended up liking/understanding his killer and Arthur I was annoyed I wasn't playing as John THEN not wanting to play as John.


Even RDR2 for me having a loads of unecessary realism, in the story question is vasty superior over TLOUS2. They really give a proper revenge pespective.
Didn't really like the story in either of these games all that much, but at least Arthur wasn't unceremoniously sacrificed for the sake of experimental, 'thought-provoking' story-telling.


thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Joel is a mistake in LOU2 is interesting of course he’s not the main character, Rockstar put their main character in a better position.

The New Guy

Unconfirmed Member
Red Dead Redemption 2 for me. I think Rockstar pulled it off far better. They really ruined Joel's character a lot. I could barely recognise him in the second game. I prefer Rockstar's writing style as well.

Whilst I prefer John Marston from the first game, Arthur Morgan was a great character and I enjoyed playing as him a lot.


It's not even close imo, RDR2 by a mile. Managed to avoid spoilers, so Arthurs decline and final faceoff were crushing at the time. The damn horse too. Still kept hoping that he'd get cured up until the end, one of the most memorable new characters and story arcs to come out of this gen.

Joel's end was just butchered by comparison.
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Sony make cringe trainers.
Projecting what?

Funny you took exception to that phrase to the point of throwing some silly ad hominem at me because of it.

You are projecting who you are into the character of Arthur and using that as a frame of reference on the quality of the writing. You have yet to make an argument for why one might be better written than the other. It’s empty criticism.

hemo memo

Joel death was bad amateur writing. It shouldn’t be compared to Arthur (RDR2). I’ve played Detroit: BH the other day and Naughty Dog should seriously play and take inspiration of how to write character moments.


I wept for Arthur. I loved that man by the "end". For all his foibles were mine as well. This endeared me even more. We changed countless lives across the land together.
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RDR2 no doubt. Arthur is one of the best characters ever created in gaming and his send-off was perfect.

You can tell cuckmann had nothing but contempt for Joel.


The manner of Arthur's death was really tragic for me, as I got the "bad ending" and I just couldn't believe that R* would let that piece of shit Micah win. Got to give R* major props for doing that. Brought a tear to my eye, no cap.

The leaks killed Joel's death. If that happened in game we'd be talking about it completely differently.
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Arthur, oh man, you knew it was coming but you still hoped against hope, you believed until the end. An exceptionally well conceived character who got an overwhelmingly emotional send-off. I can count on one hand the number of games that have made me cry, Arthur's death made RDR2 one of them.

Joel just got shat on, a brutal death for the sake of shock value, that was ultimately meaningless and a demonstration of Druckman's distaste for the character. The "story" in TLOU2, and I use that word lightly, is full to the bursting of contrivances and just plain bad writing. It will, rightly so, win awards for it's technical prowess, but it's an insulting and preachy game that undid much of the work of its predecessor.

RDR2 wins this, by a large margin.
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