The Last of Us Part II is now out, and players around the globe are already discovering the best thing about the game: you play a guitar in it. Well, kind of. At different points throughout the game your character will grab a guitar, and you’ll be able to pick what chord they play while swiping the PlayStation 4 controller’s touchpad to strum. I am not going to say anything about the game’s story, or themes, or my own opinions about them just now, but I will say that, as somebody who’s owned a guitar since Meat Loaf refused to tell us the one thing he wouldn’t do for love, and as somebody who’s played that guitar at least once or twice since, I definitely appreciated the guitar stuff in this game—and more so than the “graphically murdering monsters, humans and dogs” stuff in this game.
If you wrangle it just right, you’ll get to play a lot of different guitar chords in The Last of Us Part II. There’s really no such thing as a bad guitar chord—well, except for one, which you’ll find out at the bottom of this piece—but some are still better than others. So let’s run down the best guitar chords you can play in this game, during those rare moments when it lets you play a guitar.
Oh, and here’s a big ol’ SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know what guitar chords are in this game, you should stop reading right now. I’m not holding anything back when it comes to the guitar chords you can play in The Last of Us Part II, during the seven or so minutes out of its 35 hours where you play a guitar.
You can’t get much more classic than a C. You might recognize this bright, chiming major chord from almost every single song you’ve ever heard in your entire life, and the fact that you haven’t gotten sick of it yet is just a testament to its timeless power. Sure, we can say the exact same thing about a G, or an A, or an E, or hell, even a goddamned D—and trust us, we will—but there’s something just a little bit more special about a C. It’s like the difference between Cheers and Night Court—they’re both amazing, but Cheers just slightly more so. Cheers is a C chord in this scenario—even though, ironically, there’s no C chord in Cheers’s beloved theme song.
C might be the cuter, flirtier chord, but the G actually gets stuff done. Pretty much every major chord can sound transcendent when it’s left to ring out through the air, but the G outdoes the rest. Perhaps that’s because it’s a more responsible chord, often pulling double duty by supplying a legitimately deep bass note in the form of a, yes, G note. Sure, chords always have bass notes, but few of the open chords have one as heavy as the G, which just makes the chord feel more formal and definitive. I don’t want to call the G “workmanlike”—that diminishes the beauty and grace of this all-important chord—but a nice, round G always seems to carry more of a song’s load than most chords. You think CCR’s “Fortunate Son” would rumble in so righteously if it didn’t kick off with a G? If you want a song to grab your listeners by the eardrums and shout “HEY! This is a song!,” you should start it with a G. Fun fact: The G was funnyman Buddy Hackett’s favorite guitar chord.
Few guitar chords are as seductive as the simple, slippery A. All you have to know about a guitar to pull off an A is one fret and three strings. If your digits are flexible enough, you can even do it with a single finger—yes, even a middle finger, as everybody who has ever played a show drunk can attest to. The A is a godsend to the novice guitarist, not just because it’s easy to play, but because it’s an extremely versatile chord—as versatile as any other. (All chords are versatile.) The A is the chicken broth of the guitar, and no, I’m not going to explain what that means. Pair it with an E or a D and see where it takes you.
One thing I love about the F#m is how writing it out almost looks like the shape your hand is in when you play one. Another thing I love about the F#m is hearing it, and playing it, and slipping it into a bridge when I’m writing a song. If you’ve mostly stuck to major chords so far, and want to start getting weird, a F#m is a good way to start. It’s also not remotely weird—but you are for thinking it is.
No, this chord doesn’t have an identity crisis. An “inversion” is what you call a chord whose bass note is different from its root. It’s not a huge switch, really—the second note of an E chord is a G#. E/G# is an E chord where the deepest note you play isn’t an E but a G#, so you’re essentially just rearranging the notes you’d be playing anyway. It can give a chord a richer, slightly different intonation, and Ellie puts it to good use when she covers a certain popular ‘80s one-hit wonder in The Last of Us Part II.
This arrogant little buffoon of a chord is too full of itself. Yes, a D always sounds good. Yes, it always feels good to play, at least as an open chord. And yes, within five minutes of learning a D for the first time you’ll instinctually realize how to play Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” That all just adds up to make the D the cockiest and most insufferable of all the major chords. The D chord is like a St. Louis Cardinal fan: it’s entirely too impressed by itself. Somebody needs to teach this smug piece of shit a lesson.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin. Hear him play his guitar here.