Last of Us 2 Locations and Their Seattle Counterparts

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When it was released, I played through The Last of Us: Part II faster than I have any other game of such scope. I found myself sprinting through the Seattle neighborhoods and settings without a care in the world about the detail that went into every single part of capturing the city. I was enthralled with the game and its story, only wanting to keep progressing forward.

At the time, which was a year ago this week, it had only been several months into the pandemic. I hadn’t been to the city in-person for almost the whole time despite living nearby; I had been locking down and just taking it day by day. It was only later, after almost a year of not being able to see the familiar landmarks and streets I enjoyed wandering, that I found an unshakeable urge to revisit the game.

Spoilers AheadFor those unfamiliar, The Last of Us: Part II takes place primarily in Seattle over several days seen from the perspectives of two opposing characters: Ellie and Abby. When an initial infection began to take hold, the city became a Quarantine Zone run by the Federal Disaster Response Agency (F.E.D.R.A.) and the military. However, the people of the city began to grow unhappy with their overseers and proceeded to form the Washington Liberation Front (W.L.F.) in order to regain control. By the time of the events of the game, they have done just that, though they now face threats from a primitivist cult known as the Seraphites who control the area surrounding the city proper.

The years of conflict stemming from the collapse of society as we know it have inexorably altered the city’s landscape. Highways have begun to fall apart, buildings have collapsed, and the remaining survivors have been left to fend for themselves however they can. It is a bleak portrait of humanity and yet, there are pockets of salvation to be found amidst the shadow of the city that once was. The way the people have adapted and made a new life for themselves in any way they could is not what one could call hopeful. However, what it does do is offer some indication about how we all could maybe one day recover from a world-altering event.

Having experienced more than a year of isolation and loneliness, wandering through the wreckage of the old world of Seattle proved to be a more impactful experience than I could have expected. It went beyond just the notes you pick up that tell the stories of those who had tried, and failed, to survive. The buildings and places themselves told a story. As nature took over and a stillness fell over what normally would be a bustling city, it was hard not to see the parallels the world of The Last of Us: Part II shared with our own.

RELATED: ‘Last of Us 2’ Concept Art Reveals Stunning Scenes That Helped Bring the Sequel to Life

I now have gone back through the game and actively stopped myself from going too fast. I have made an effort to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. What I found were details and stories from all the places the game recreates in the reimagined city. It was those places that I began cataloguing when I took notice of them. It gave me a newfound appreciation of a game I already had increasingly grown to appreciate the more time went on. This piece will highlight some of those places and, while I won’t discuss spoilers of the game, is going to discuss some plot details about how the characters end up in each new place.

THE PARAMOUNT / PINNACLE THEATRE

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

When Ellie (Ashley Johnson) ventures into the city with her companion Dina (Shannon Woodward) in tow, they find themselves biting off more than they can chew. Needing to get off the streets fast, they take shelter in the Pinnacle Theatre. It is this location that they will return to following their journeys out into the city as they search for answers.

The real location is actually the Paramount Theatre, a historic venue that is located at 9th Avenue and Pine Street. Originally opening in 1928, it has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a City of Seattle landmark. It still serves as a venue for a variety of performing arts though has been shuttered during the pandemic.

It is this theatre that I have walked by countless times, even once when there was a red carpet event during PAX West several years back. I remember this because I accidentally stepped on the corner of the carpet that was in the front of the theatre itself and was subsequently chastised for defacing the sacred rug. The game even models the design of the iconic sign on the exterior of the building exactly, though with a different name.

THE SOUNDVIEW STADIUM / LUMEN FIELD

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Reddit)

The SoundView Stadium is where the game’s villain-turned-foil Abby (Laura Bailey) resides with the W.L.F. They live within the stadium and have created a small community there that even has a school for younger children.

When first revealed, it isn’t clear where they are. However, when Abby emerges from inside, you see the entirety of the field laid out before you. It has been repurposed, no longer for games but for survival. There is livestock being raised, produce being grown, and a playpen for your canine friends.

The stadium is modeled after the real Lumen Field, formerly known as CenturyLink Stadium. It is located in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood and is the home field for the city’s NFL team, the Seahawks, and the MLS team, the Sounders. While it is vastly different when compared to the venue full of fans, you can still see the bones of the stadium. It is hard to shake how surreal it is to see the stadium so vastly transformed, while still being such a precise recreation.

THE SEATTLE GREAT WHEEL

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

A setting that takes some liberties with the construction of the wheel itself, the scene is still unmistakably a direct modeling of the so-called The Seattle Great Wheel. Usually only seen in the background of Ellie’s journey around the city, the wheel is put front and center when Abbie is seen playing around in one of the cabins with her companion Owen.

It is here where a younger Abby is seen recovering from the losses of her family and also dealing with a fear of heights as an allegory for her future. Eventually, Owen manages to convince her to make the leap of faith, both literally and metaphorically, into the water far below. It is a sizable distance, one which the game takes you directly into the shoes of Abby as she looks over the edge at the leap she will have to take, ensuring you feel every foot of the fall.

In real-life Seattle, the wheel is located at Pier 57 on Elliot Bay. It stands 175 feet tall and was the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast of the United States when it opened in 2012. Being as it is in Seattle, with all the glorious rain the area brings, it is hard to recommend going on the wheel as it more often than not will not be an experience that will not take place on a beautiful day.

THE SPACE NEEDLE

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

Okay, this one is both obvious and tricky. The Space Needle is an almost instantly recognizable landmark of Seattle though the setting in which the game positions it requires some imagination. You discover the landmark when playing as Abby who is infiltrating the Seraphite Island to conduct a rescue of sorts for your friend Lev (Ian Alexander), who has gone to the island alone. When making your way through the island, you see the shrouded structure in the distance.

However, it is pretty clear that the location of where the Space Needle is in current day Seattle versus where it is in the game seem vastly different. The distance you travel from other landmarks in the city to the structure makes it seem much farther than where it usually is and indicates it may be in an entirely other place. Oh, and there is the fact that it is on an island when it very much isn’t currently. The game heavily hints at the fact that a combination of bombing from the military and general environmental change has drastically altered the landscape. It seems to imply that the entirety of Belltown, a neighborhood in Seattle, is now completely underwater. It is plausible that a combination of erosion and unchecked flooding could have caused the change. However, it is a location that also takes some liberties with how it matches up to the reality.

SEATTLE CONFERENCE CENTER / WASHINGTON STATE CONVENTION CENTER

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

This location will be familiar to anyone who has traveled to the city for the aforementioned PAX or any of the other events held there such as Emerald City Comic-Con. In the game, you break into the Seattle Conference Center through a top window and, through a series of strategic jumps, get to the ground level. It is there that the game creates the most horrifying sequence.

Ellie must battle the creepy-as-all-hell Stalkers, people that are in the second stage of the infection. The Stalker is a particularly challenging monster you must fight, moving incredibly fast and always staying just out of sight until it is too late. They make the worst imaginable croaking sound and can sneak up on you to kill you almost instantly. Going back through and playing it proves to be one of the most stressful parts of the game that still haunts my nightmares.

The real-life Washington State Convention Center is thankfully sans flesh-eating monsters and is located on Pike Street in the downtown area. It has approximately 415,000 square feet of space and two exhibition halls. The arched glass canopy and a skybridge give it a distinctive look that makes it instantly recognizable in the game, even when approaching from a distance.

HISTORIC CHINATOWN GATE

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

A serene setting compared to the nightmare of the convention center, the Historic Chinatown Gate is an archway that marks the entrance to the Chinatown-International District neighborhood of Seattle. It doesn’t call attention to itself, though it is still a detail that is impossible to miss and any game of this scale set in Seattle would be incomplete without it.

The 45-foot-tall archway is located over South King Street and marks the west end of the neighborhood. It was built over several months in 2007 and is made of steel as well as ceramic ornaments. In our time, there have been plans for another gate to be made for more than a decade, meaning this would be the only one in existence before the events of the story.

In the game, Abby must venture her way through the area, dealing with enemies both human and infected, as the world is not always one where you can stop to admire what once was. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling of sadness at seeing a small detail of what was the entrance to a vibrant neighborhood of the city.

SEATTLE CENTRAL LIBRARY

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

A standout piece of architecture, the Seattle Central Library is an 11-story glass and steel building located downtown. It was opened in 2004 and has the capacity to hold over 1.5 million books. Every time I walked by it, I found myself in awe of the structure and how simply remarkable it was to see the striking building in all its glory.

In the game, the structure is visible on your first day in the city and it certainly makes a first impression. You are supposed to be going around and collecting resources to prepare yourself for the mission ahead. However, I just found myself taking time to admire the attention to detail and precision with which the building was put into the game. It may be the most memorable part and ensures any other location has its work cut out for it in trying to top its splendor.

It is not a building you will get to fully familiarize yourself with as the story proceeds ahead and the first day quickly fades away, though the towering structure of the magnificent library casts a long shadow over the rest of the game.

THE DOME / DANIELS RECITAL HALL

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

Another location from your first day in the city is what Ellie and Dina refer to as The Dome when beginning to explore. The duo end up making their way into the structure which they discover was a synagogue that was repurposed into a ration distribution center.

They have one of their first deep conversations about faith and the state of the world. It marks the beginning of a relationship that will develop more deeply over the course of the game. In real life, the structure is a smaller though no less significant part of the city located at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Marion Street. Originally the First United Methodist Church, it has found new life as the Daniels Recital Hall.

The three-story structure was built in 1908 and then opened in 2009 to begin hosting concerts by making use of the church acoustics. With enough seating for more than a thousand people, those acoustics help to ensure that any seat in the house can hear the full beauty of a performance.

CAPITOL HILL RAINBOW CROSSWALKS

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

This is the one that almost always makes me feel both strangely nostalgic and reflexively sad about the ultimate futility of the hollow symbols left over from the old world. Throughout Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood, there are a series of rainbow crosswalks that have adorned several streets since 2015, meant to show support for LGBTQ pride.

Seeing them in the game as they have begun to slowly wear away, makes for a melancholy moment of reflection as it becomes clear that such symbols of acceptance were ultimately worthless in the face of society’s impending destruction.

Even with that thought in mind, it still cuts deep to just see the gas station I recall myself going to for snacks after a late night out. The gas station is obviously fictionalized, but it is still just deeply impactful to see them side by side after not having been out there for so long.

NORDSTROM / NORKIRK

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Image via Naughty Dog

(Real-world location source: Flickr)

Last, but not least, the game also made the bold decision to turn a Nordstrom location into one called Norkirk. Totally different, no similarity. But hey, they still matched the structure and layout of the street almost perfectly, all the way down to the glass bridge going between buildings.

KEEP READING: ‘The Last of Us 2’: Neil Druckmann Reveals When He Decided on Joel’s Ultimate Fate

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About The Author

Chase Hutchinson
(55 Articles Published)

Chase Hutchinson is a Freelance News and Feature Writer for Collider. His work has also appeared in a variety of publications including The Stranger, The Portland Mercury, The Seattle Times, The Sunbreak, Seattle Refined, and The News Tribune. He lives in Tacoma, WA (it is near Seattle, though still very much its own thing) where he works as a journalist.

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