It is nearly impossible to talk about The Last of Us Part 2 on the internet and not trigger one side of the fence. There are just as many detractors of the game as die-hard supporters who live and die by its story.
Very rarely has a game been so massively divisive as The Last of Us Part 2, which is honestly a testament to how emotionally invested the players were in the story. It is not often that a game has been so well-crafted in terms of gameplay and the technical aspects, yet only drawn criticism for its story.
The technical aspects and gameplay of The Last of Us Part 2 are undeniably great, and Naughty Dog deserves all the praise that comes it's way. However, one should keep in mind that art is extremely subjective, and what works for many might not work for others.
Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann's conviction to tell the story they wanted to is admirable, and their uncompromising nature is commendable. Diluting The Last of Us Part 2 to please a larger portion of the audience would not have done justice to the makers or fans of this instalment.
Five changes in The Last of Us Part 2 that could have made the game less divisive for the fanbase
1) Tommy dies instead of Joel in the opening moments
One of the biggest reasons that players turned against The Last of Us Part 2 from the beginning was the decision to kill off one of the community's most beloved characters, Joel, right at the start of the game.
His capture, torture and death was designed to prove a point and drive forward the narrative themes of the game, but it didn't necessarily go down well with the fanbase.
Perhaps, if Tommy had taken the fall for his brother, which would then spur Ellie and Joel on a path of vengeance in Seattle, it would have been the game that fans had expected. As they wanted more of Joel and Ellie in the sequel, The Last of Us Part 2 wanted players to feel the loss of Joel as much as Ellie did, and thus, it is understandable why Naughty Dog would choose to go down that route.
Maybe this story arc could have served as more of a resolution for Joel and Ellie in the sequel.
2) Uncharacteristic behavior from characters
Critics of The Last of Us Part 2 were quick to point out that characters in the game would frequently make decisions and choices that did not fit the bill. For example, battle-hardened survivors for 25 years, Joel and Tommy wouldn't simply let their guards down when faced with an unknown and armed group of strangers.
Their uncharacteristic behavior leads to the death of the former, which ticked of The Last of Us fanbase majorly. Characters do end up making these uncharacteristic choices throughout the game, and it kind of ends up feeling like plot conveniences.
Perhaps, Naughty Dog could have found a more natural medium through which they were able to tell specific plot points of the game.