A 2x4 is rectangular piece of lumber commonly used in residential construction. However, in the brutal post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us, the more cunning survivors (or those unfortunate enough to be left without a gun) have repurposed the lowly building material into a deadly weapon used to fight off both Infected and hostile humans alike.
In the campaign, the 2x4 acts as a blunt weapon with a distinct advantage over bare fists. As well as being able to put out far more damage, a player or AI enemy wielding a 2x4 has a longer reach than that of their fists alone. The 2x4 can be used four times before shattering; sufficient to kill almost any foe.
Hitting a human enemy once with a 2x4 will be enough to stun them; leaving them off balance and vulnerable to further attack for a few seconds. Enemies typically take three or four hits to kill but stunned foes can often be dealt with in a single hit if the player performs a sprinting attack or triggers an environmental execution animation.
The 2x4 is typically used as a simple club, but can be upgraded up to three times using a blade and a binding item to give the weapon deadly one-hit-kill potential. While it is not the strongest or the most durable weapon in The Last of Us, it is easily the most common (especially in Boston and Pittsburgh).
The 2x4 is one of two melee weapons available in Factions, along with the Machete. It can be scavenged in-game from supply crates and is usually only available in the boxes at the middle of the map (away from the initial spawn points) or later on in the game.
In their standard, non-upgraded form, 2x4s operate much the same way as in the campaign; substituting the standard melee punch for a swing of the board and doing considerably higher damage at the cost of a slightly lower hit speed. The 2x4 downs full-health enemies in 2 hits, and executes downed players with two hits (hitting a downed enemy with the 2x4 does not deplete its durability — the same applies to the Modded 2x4). The 2x4 can also perform special executions. It can survive four hits before shattering just like the campaign.
In its base form, the 2x4 is inferior to the machete due to it's sluggish attack speed. However, if the 2x4 user has Brawler equipped they will be able to take on a machete due to the 10 point heath bonus per hit. Although the chance to do so is rare, 2x4 curiously has the ability to be able to hit smoke and nail bombs so long as the user strikes while the bomb is being thrown at them, though the benefits of this are debatable.
The 2x4 can be upgraded using one Blade, one Binding, and one Rag to become a more powerful melee weapon. The Upgraded 2x4 can down any player — whether or not they have armor — in a single hit and will cause the user to "snap" toward nearby enemies upon swinging, making it extremely effective against players who rush around corners or as a quick close-quarters attack. Unlike the standard 2x4, which usually executes in two hits, the Upgraded 2x4 always executes a downed player in one hit, making it the fastest way to execute a downed opponent (other than a headshot). In most circumstances, the modded 2x4 will be able to down a machete user before they get in all three hits required to down.
A major disadvantage of the modded 2x4 when compared to other weapons is its very slow swinging and downing speed. A successful hit renders the user immobile for over a second, making the modded 2x4 a poor weapon to use against multiple targets. However, if hitting an enemy up or down an incline such as a set of stairs, the animation is skipped and the enemy is downed much more quickly, this can also occur when the enemy is vaulting, or standing on another object if the player connects with them in time. Another instance is when the enemy is running away, it can sometimes skip the animation and it downs them instantly. Another major disadvantage also regarding the slow swing speed is the Melee Cancel that can occur. Melee Cancel can be inflicted upon you by you getting shot with any weapon or getting hit by a Machete while the user is in the first-half of the swinging animation, If Melee Canceled, the attack won't hit and the user will return to standing position, if facing foes at close-range and they are trying to shoot the player, they are better off shooting at them too or move left or right away from their aim (Melee Cancel can also happen when a player attacks with Punches or Unmodded 2x4, but Melee Cancelling those is considerably harder since they attack faster in comparison to the Modded 2x4).
Certain weapons work better with the Melee Cancel, the 9mm and Full Auto are good choices, as they can Melee Cancel without upgrades. The Revolver, Shorty, and a variety of other weapons can Melee Cancel effectively when fully upgraded. The Bow and Crossbow have very low rate of fire, and don't work very well for Melee Cancel. The Hunting Rifle has the lowest chance to Melee Cancel out of any weapon, because the Hunting Rifle has a low fire rate and reload time (reload time is reduced by upgrading), it can only Melee Cancel due to glitches, lag, and pure luck. Consistent hits with guns with a high rate of fire (notably the Assault Rifle, Specter, Burst Rifle and Full-Auto Rifle) will prevent your enemies from downing you with the upgraded melee weapon.
When using at certain angles with cause the upgraded melee weapon to down very quickly.
The Upgraded 2x4 has one use before reverting to a regular 2x4, but it is possible to upgrade this to two by crafting the item whilst the skill Brawler 2 is equipped. Hitting a downed player with the Upgraded 2x4 will not take durability points from either upgraded points or from the standard 2x4 underneath. Also, if the player crafts a modded 2x4 but is killed before it is used the player will still respawn with the weapon; unlike the unmodded version, making it an even more attractive option if the player is lucky enough to get the resources needed to craft it from a supply box.
- In actuality, the "2x4" is most likely a 4x4 as it is square in shape. Naughty Dog probably chose to call it a 2x4 as the name is more recognizable.