This guide is designed for players who want general advice for how best to find the collectibles in The Last of Us Part II without relying on a walkthrough—though we do also have guides for the two major collectible types, as well as the two special artifacts that have their own trophies. Having gotten the Platinum trophy myself, I thought I’d share five tips for your own collectible hunting, the last of which is absolutely game-changing if you’re stuck.
There are absolutely no story spoilers in the article below, nor are there any screenshots that might spoil important locations or plot developments. I do, however, state what the two major categories of collectible are.
Tip 1: You’ll have more fun (and an easier time) if you wait to find 100 percent of collectibles on a second playthrough.
Once you’ve beaten a section of the The Last of Us Part II, you can access it and replay it via the Chapters section of the main menu. When you view these chapters as a list, the game will tell you how many total collectibles of each type there are in each section. This is the first time you can see this information, so unless you’re relying on a guide heavily the entire time during your first playthrough, you won’t really know what, if anything, you missed.
You’ll have a much better time if you spend your first playthrough exploring at your own pace, finding what you can, and immersing yourself in the story. Then you can circle back around to grab everything you missed, once you have a checklist of what you’re looking for.
Besides, you can’t unlock every trophy in the game for upgrading your character perks and weapons on a single playthrough, so you’ll need to revisit many areas in New Game+ anyway if you’re going for the Platinum.
Tip 2: Trading cards and coins are almost never located in combat spaces.
In general, the level designers who worked on The Last of Us Part II seem to have broken down the environments into two types: spaces for exploration/scavenging/puzzles, and spaces for combat. Though there are a few notable exceptions to this rule, the major collectibles are nearly always located in the exploration and puzzle-solving areas, not in the sections where you fight enemies. (Notes and other artifacts are more likely to be found in combat spaces, but they’re still rarer there.) For the most part, if you’re stuck tracking down a pesky coin or card, you’ll want to scour all the exploration areas first.
Tip 3: Think about where each collectible would reasonably be found.
The Last of Us Part II tries to convey the realism of its world, and that approach extends to collectibles. You won’t find any trading cards underwater, nor will you find them out in the rain or otherwise overly exposed to the elements. Though they’re hiding in a wide variety of locations, there are some commonalities: You’ll often find them at stores that you might expect to sell trading cards to kids, or areas children might otherwise
The coins are a bit more of a wildcard, given that a quarter could have survived outdoors for a much longer period of time. But even still, only two (minor spoiler) is located underneath water, and both are in a fairly obvious places. Nearly all the coins are located near identifiable landmarks, and many are in spots you’d expect to find a quarter in the real world.
Tip 4: Remember that collectibles are fairly evenly spaced throughout levels.
The designers of The Last of Us Part II went to great lengths to ensure that discoveries are evenly spaced throughout the experience, and that applies to collectibles as well. You’re not going to find two trading cards or coins in the same room. With few exceptions, you can usually break apart a level into chunks based on how many collectibles there are to find. If there’s four, you’re practically guaranteed to find one in the 25 percent of the level, another in the second 25 percent, and so on.
In the more open levels, this can work a little differently. For instance, if there are three big areas in a chapter separated by points-of-no-return and six collectibles, you’ll most likely to find two in each big area (and usually in different buildings, or at least distinct and separate sections of a building).
Tip 5: Use the accessibility modes to your advantage.
This is the big one. If you’re stuck trying to find a particular item, or if you just don’t want to try that hard, using some of the game’s accessibility features is a huge help. If you go into the Options menu on the pause screen and then into the Accessibility submenu, you’ll find two features that are extremely helpful.
The first, in the Magnification and Visual Aids section, is called High Contrast Display. If you enable this, you can swipe left on the touchpad to switch into an alternate display mode that mutes the colors in the world but highlights allies, enemies, and—most importantly for our purposes—any object in the environment you can pick up or interact with. Now the world will be grey, but collectibles will be bright yellow. Since you can toggle it on and off, it’s a helpful way to make sure you’ve fully cleared an area.
The second, found in the Navigation and Traversal section of the Accessibility submenu, is called Enhanced Listen Mode. Once you turn this one, you can press the circle button while holding down R1 to send out a sonar blast into the environment in a circle around you. Any items within range will emit an audible ping and display a circle onscreen—even through walls. For maximum utility, you can turn the scan range up to max and the scan time down to 1 second.
If you make use of both of these features together, you can practically guarantee you won’t miss a single item as you explore.
While it’s entirely possible to find every collectible in the game without these accessibility features—I personally tracked down every trading card and coin before I even discovered this method, just by going over each area exhaustively multiple times—there’s no shame in using them if there’s one or two elusive items you can’t seem to find. It’s certainly a happy middle ground between finding them all unassisted and relying on a guide.
No matter what method you choose, happy hunting.