[Update: Naughty Dog has now confirmed the directors heading up The Last of Us 2 now that Neil Druckmann has been promoted to Vice President of the company. Druckmann will, of course, still be heavily involved in the creation of the game but it now has two directors: Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, both of whom were lead designers on Uncharted 4.]
As titles go, The Last of Us is a pretty finite one. But as it turns out, The Last of Us wasn't the last of it and work on a sequel (The Last of Us 2) is well underway.
Given the first game was hailed by players and critics alike as a masterpiece with excellent, emotional storytelling and engaging, realistic characters, we have to admit that the decision to release a follow-up isn't particularly shocking. We'd probably have been more surprised if there wasn't one.
The Last of Us 2 was first announced by Naughty Dog at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer. Despite the teaser trailer being visually stunning, it was stressed that the game was still in very early development, no doubt to make it clear that the game as a whole wasn't at this stage yet and to manage fan expectations.
Now that we're more than one year on from that point, the only additional information we've had about the game is a second, longer trailer shown at Paris Games Week 2017 and a confirmation that it'll be set in Seattle. Where the original teaser trailer wasn't actually footage from the game, however, this trailer was which means we must be far closer to a release date announcement.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
- When can I play it? It’ll be a while from now, maybe late 2018 to early 2019
- What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
PSX recently took place in California and The Last of Us Part 2 had its very own panel at this event. During the panel it was confirmed that the game will be set in the city of Seattle and the darker themes we know are coming were touched upon. You can watch the panel for yourself below:
The most recent trailer for the game was shown at Sony's press conference during the 2017 Paris Games Week. This trailer is around 5 minutes long, focusing on conflicts between the human factions in the game. It shows part 2 is going to have a dark story, perhaps even darker than the first, and the trailer is fairly harrowing to watch.
Visually impressive though it is, do note that it's gory before you watch it for yourself below.
The first look at the game came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game is early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:
As Naughty Dog has said the game is still in the early stages of development, we imagine it’ll be a while before we get to play The Last of Us 2.
We don’t even have a rough release window yet, though considering Naughty Dog has seen the bad side of promising a solid release date and missing it before it’s hard to blame them for not committing at this stage.
In a recent interview with Vorterix, the game's composer, Gustavo Santaolalla, said that it's going to launch in 2019. Naturally, this hasn't been confirmed so we'd take it with a pinch of salt. However, it doesn't seem all that implausible as a release window given that in-game footage was only shown as recently as Paris Games Week
What we know so far
With Neil Druckmann having been promoted to Vice President of Naughty Dog, The Last of Us 2 now has two confirmed directors. Druckmann will, of course, still be heavily involved in the creation of the game but it's now being headed up by Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, both of whom were lead designers on Uncharted 4.
Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go.
At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place in the city of Seattle, five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence.
This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about...something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly.
She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game's well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride.
As Joel is such a passive presence in the trailer there’s been speculation that he’s actually dead, appearing in Ellie’s mind’s eye, and Ellie’s anger and vengeance will be directed at those who caused his death. This isn’t entirely unlikely but it’s purely speculation at this point. It is worth pointing out, however, that Neil Druckmann did reveal in an interview with PlayStation Lifestyle that this announcement trailer footage is not a scene that will actually take place in the real game.
In the trailer for the game shown at Paris Games Week in 2017, we got a look at how dark the game is likely to be. The trailer focuses on the opposing relationships between human characters in the game and features some seriously cringe-inducing violence.
It doesn't tell us much about any new characters of how they'll relate to one another but it does confirm that we're going into a dark game world in The Last of Us part 2.
In a recent panel at PSX both Druckmann and Gross said that though the game's story will indeed be dark and there'll be a focus on the theme of hate, "there is hope" and there will be "lighthearted moments."
We can't pretend we're not relieved to hear this after the game's controversial Paris Games Week trailer which, Druckmann said, was intended to highlight the game's exploration of the pursuit of justice.
Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage.
The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger.
When asked at a PSX panel whether or not Joel or Ellie may die, Druckmann responded that "no one is safe" highlighting that the game's story really could go anywhere.
Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game's story.
Not much is being said about gameplay at the moment. Neil Druckmann said at a PSX Panel that there would, however, be some differences as a result of Ellie being the playable character rather than Joel.
“Ellie plays differently than Joel [...] Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.”
It’s hard to glean much from this, but if Naughty Dog take the approach that’s frequently taken with playable female characters, Ellie will probably be more swift on her feet than Joel was but perhaps less able to take damage.
This won't be the first time we've had the chance to play as Ellie, after the first game put us in her shoes for a short mission, but here the purpose of the mission was to make her feel weak in comparison to Joel. We can only hope her abilities will be expanded for the sequel. In the Paris Games Week trailer she certainly looks far physically stronger than she did in the first game.
We expect to see much more in terms of gameplay from E3 2018 after Druckmann stated in the PSX panel that more details for the game would emerge at that event.
What we'd like to see
A new setting
Given that time has moved on 5 years from the end of the first game, it’d be nice to see Joel and Ellie in a new location too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be far from the setting of the first game but considering we have the two lead characters and their relationship to keep us tied to the first game, it’d be nice to play in a new location to keep things feeling fresh and make the introduction of new characters feel more plausible.
Druckmann has said that this game’s story will be larger than the story of the first game and we imagine this necessitates a slightly more expansive setting.
More frightening enemies
The infected in the first game are terrifying and threatening and we want to see more of that. Things don’t have to change too much but new classes of enemy, new character designs and new ways to defeat them would be excellent.
Considering we’ll be playing as Ellie now rather than Joel we imagine players will have to learn to take a different approach to combat anyway as it’s been said she’ll play differently.
It’d also be great to see more human enemies as well as the infected. We saw more than a few morally grey factions make an appearance in the first game so to expand on this and maybe introduce some more elements would be interesting.
The exploration of the morality of humanity in post-apocalyptic scenes is always interesting, particularly considering in games you’re interacting with it directly and feeling its impact more strongly than in most mediums.
The Last of Us 2 has the chance to make a real emotional impact through the human areas it presents us with.
The return of multiplayer
Multiplayer in The Last of Us was surprisingly good so we wouldn’t be averse to seeing it return here. If the game’s main story is going to be as heavy as we expect, it’d certainly be nice to have the option to break free for a while without leaving the game world and connect with others online.
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