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Bloaters are the fourth, rarest, and most dangerous stage of the Infected in The Last of Us, The Last of Us Part II, and Left Behind. They take years to develop and reach this stage after years of exposure to the Cordyceps Brain Infection.[1]

Characteristics

Bloaters are covered in thick fungus that effectively acts as armor. Because of this protective covering, they can withstand multiple hits from weapons such as the Shotgun and Hunting Rifle, and even hatchets and machetes making them extremely tough to eliminate.

Bloaters are extremely aggressive, but are rather slow-moving, making them more predictable than other Infected. Like Clickers, Bloaters 'see' using echolocation to locate and trap a survivor. Because the fungus has completely deformed their face and blinded them, their echolocation is a lot less refined than the Clickers.

If a Bloater grabs a survivor, it will violently rip their jaw apart through brute strength, grab the player's head and smash it, pin them to the ground and pummel their body mercilessly, or grab the survivor's neck and bend it to break the spine, killing them instantly. There is no way for the player to defend themselves if grabbed - the result is an instant kill. Bloaters throw sacks of mycotoxin, which explode on impact, spraying the target with the toxin. The mycotoxin will hurt the player over time, so it is recommended to avoid these deadly clouds.

Bloater kills Joel

A Bloater's nasty death animation.

Bloaters, like all Infected, are vulnerable to fire. When set ablaze, a Bloater will wildly thrash around, trying to put out the flames. After being immolated, they will be charred, black, and smoking. Their armor will also be charred and brittle, making them vulnerable to low-powered weapons. Despite this weakness, fire-based weapons such as Flamethrowers or Molotov Cocktails still require multiple uses before killing a Bloater. Their other, less effective, weakness is armor-piercing rounds from an upgraded weapon, like the Hunting Rifle. It will take fewer shots to kill if the weapon has the Power and Armor-Piercing upgrades.

Furthermore, despite their tough fungal armor, they are not immune to melee weapons as long as enough force is exerted on them. Joel was one of the few people to demonstrate this, as he was able to slash a Bloater to death while also amputating its arm with two hits from a machete. 

Combat

Bloater charges at Joel

A Bloater charges at Joel.

The most efficient way to kill bloaters is to throw a Molotov Cocktail or use the Flamethrower on them, due to their vulnerability to fire. When they are stunned, use 2-3 rounds from a shotgun to kill the Bloater to save supplies and ammo. However, a burning and thrashing Bloater can still grab Joel and kill him, so under no circumstances should one ever let a Bloater get within melee range. To counter this, two shots from a fully upgraded El Diablo, or Hunting Rifle, are also enough to kill a Bloater.

Another efficient way to kill Bloaters is to throw a Molotov Cocktail, then use a nail bomb while they are on fire. Do not get too close, however, as it will always charge at the player.

The Bloater actually draws its mycotoxin bombs from bright, deformed patches growing on its body. Each Bloater has three: one on its lower right abdomen, one on its upper left chest, and one on its upper right back. Shooting any of these growths destroys them and reduces the damage required to kill the Bloater. Destroying all three will completely disable the Bloater's ranged attack, limiting it to charging at the player. This significantly increases the player's options for dealing with the Bloater, as it can no longer harm the player from a distance and is easily lured into traps. If unable to destroy them, the Bloater will take a short amount of time to throw the sack of fungus; when they then raise their arms, run away from the direction the Bloater is throwing the sac.

Bloater attack

A Bloater throws a mycotoxin.

When dealing with a Runner, Stalker or Clicker, if the player has access to a brick or empty bottle, as well as a blunt weapon, the player can stun the Infected by throwing the object at it, and then continue by running towards the Infected while swinging a melee weapon. This will result in an instant kill. However this is ineffective against a Bloater, as its hardened face is impervious to thrown bricks/bottles and standing still may invite it to lob a fungus bomb at the player or close in for the kill.

Bloater towers over Ellie

A Bloater in the Jackson hotel attacks Ellie.

For the early game, when the player does not have the Flamethrower, they can use their shotgun. Running in different directions, stopping and then firing one shot is time consuming, but it will work after many shots. If they run out of ammo for the shotgun, they can quickly switch to the hunting rifle. This is also viable on the higher difficulties, as one is better off avoiding enemies altogether to conserve ammunition or when they have run out of Molotov Cocktails and Nail Bombs. Even though Bloaters move slowly, they can still charge when they know the player is near so it is advised to avoid becoming cornered when avoiding a Bloater's grapple; special awareness is key to avoid being trapped.

Trivia

  • If the Bloaters in the Pittsburgh hotel basement and UEC dormitory kill Joel, they will actually knock the mask off of his face in a special death animation.
    • When controlling Ellie, the Bloater death scene changes; the Bloater simply punches Ellie, killing her with its sheer strength.
  • The skin of Clickers visibly "chalks," or forms large patches of scale-like tissue that glow in the dark. The patches are seemingly an earlier stage of the fungal infection growing out of their hosts' bodies, before said growth engulfs the entire body as seen with the final Bloater stage of infection.
  • Bloaters are the only stage of Infected that do not appear in Left Behind.

References

  1. Joel says it takes years to reach Stage 4 to Ellie after killing a Bloater in Bill's Town

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