I liked the character interaction well enough in The Last of Us, but I didn't much like the gameplay, so that was a big stumbling block to enjoying the game. I find stealth gameplay fairly tedious, and tend to just want to get to the end of the game in these cases. So that atmosphere isn't conducive to enjoying the character interaction for me.
I think one of the things I liked was that the gameplay didn't get in the way of the character work in Beyond
(it totally didn't
). For me it suited it to have very light gameplay elements, the bits where you failed and had to retry took you out of the 'experience' a bit (eg I failed the Navajo ceremony a couple of times).
Thinking back on it I found a lot of the levels in The Last of Us very gruelling and tedious - the subway stealth section, the hotel, the sniper level, the hospital etc. So I didn't have much sympathy for the protagonists.