SPOILERS AHEAD (1st and 2nd game)
Let's get the most brilliant part of the game first: The graphics, OMG this game looks awesome! It even scares me how PS5 games will look like at the end of this gen.
Secondly, the gameplay is great. I normally suck at games, but I know many people have praised this game for its combat mechanics.
Then comes the story, which is what I like the most of playing single payer games. This game is still confusing me about liking it or not.
I believe many people hate the story, not because it's good or bad, but because it didn't go they way they thought it would. I can say I definitely did not imagine things would go this in a sequel when I finished the first one.
Then there's the story itself. IMO, before considering if it's good or bad, I think the thing that it affects it the most (at least for me), is that they focused 99% on the characters and they forgot the world they built in the first game. The first game we were introduced to a world that was being consumed by a virus, and we saw the beginning of it in the introduction, as well as the world after the outbreak in the course of the story. In fact, the story focused on the cure which Ellie was the hope of it.
In the second game, the world passed to be practically irrelevant. We don't really see the outcome of Ellie being immune (except with Joel's lie), but as a world in general, is like nobody cared if there could be someone else like Ellie. Also, even without someone like Ellie, it's like everyone just stopped looking for something of a cure. I thought that in the second game, we would se more of the world affected by the virus. Like other countries, etc, but didn't happen, obviously.
So. said that the second game focused way too much in the characters, and while it's not a bad thing. If you take the story as is, and place it in another world, it would make sense. Make it so that they are in war, instead of an apocalyptic world, they could still do the same story. Like, why would a group of people be more dangerous than freaking zombies?! It's like if you are playing Resident Evil 2 and you would fear more the mob destroying the city, than the actual people getting turned into zombies, or something like that.
Going into the story, I think it was good in general, but not for this franchise. It would have made much more sense to make a new IP to do something like this revenge cycle, because I think the characters would have to focus more on the dangers of the world than. the drama of revenge. The moment the focused the story in revenge, the zombies and the different groups were just an obstacle, instead of real dangers our characters should look for.
I liked the Sepharite group because I believe that in such a world, in real life, many of these groups would be created in order to survive each in their own way. Some will go back to 0, others will have luxuries, etc. That's good, but they were just merely plot devices to get to the revenge main plot.
So the story was serviceable, it does make you feel many emotions, and it goes to places that not many writers dare to go and I think that's why it caused so much controversy, and to me that's great. Whether it was good or bad, I wish many writers in games and movies dare to do things as different and exciting as they did with this game. They need to take risks.
One of the main criticism about the game was the death of Joel. In the contained story that they were telling, it made a lot of sense, and it was executed well, but like I said, this particular story should've been made into other game. I believe that Joel should have died defending Ellie from some huge danger, not from being the target of revenge.