The Last of Us is officially getting a sequel, despite fan reservations that the Naughty Dog original worked better as a standalone.
Saturday night’s PlayStation Experience event ended with a huge surprise: An announcement trailer for The Last Of Us 2, the heavily anticipated follow-up to the award winning PS3 game (a remastered edition was later released for PS4).
There have been hints that developer Naughty Dog would turn its focus to a TLOU sequel following the release of the fourth and (supposedly) final Nathan Drake game, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but we had no idea the project had advanced far enough for a trailer!
Watch the haunting, thrilling teaser for ‘The Last of Us: Part II’:
Speaking at the PlayStation Experience event, game director Neil Druckmann confirmed that The Last of Us 2 takes place five years after the original, and the main playable character will be the now-19-year-old Ellie (voiced by Ashley Johnson).
Druckmann also addressed fan concerns that making a sequel would somehow cheapen the experience of playing the original, saying:
“So much thought went into this and I know there’s a lot of people that feel this trepidation about coming back to these characters and revisiting what that ending means and worrying whether that’s going to spoil the first game. You have to understand we feel all those things as well. No one loves these characters more than we do and we would not do this if we didn’t feel like we had the right idea. The ‘Part II’ is really doubling down on that to say we believe in this so much. We’re not trying to avoid it.”
Although the original game worked beautifully as a standalone experience, this writer would never pass up an opportunity to return to the gorgeous and terrifying post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us, and having an older Ellie as the new protagonist will open up whole new possibilities for story and gameplay.
Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ could be better than the original
Hands down, The Last of Us is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and after I finished it, I immediately went back and played it again.
However, it’s not necessarily the best game I’ve ever played, mainly because of its limited options of world exploration, and the (usually unobtrusive, but sometimes frustrating) feeling of running from cut-scene to cut-scene without any real control over the characters’ actions. This is why I’m excited to see how Naughty Dog might improve the quality of gameplay in the sequel.
One of the most oft-cited criticisms of The Last of Us is also its somewhat subpar combat mechanisms compared to similar games of its time. As thrilling as it is to sneak up on Clickers, fighting bad guys and the infected just isn’t as fun or challenging as it could be.
The design of the original means that gameplay is extremely limited — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering that the story is so interesting — but getting the ability to at least somewhat affect the story based on the morality of in-game decisions would add a whole new dimension of enjoyment.
This is especially relevant because the morality of our main character(s) could potentially be a huge factor in the sequel’s story: Joel may have done bad things to survive pre-Ellie, but we only ever had that referenced in dialogue. Joel’s actions through the game were morally ambiguous, yes, but always forgivable since they were driven by the desire to save a little girl.
By contrast, the trailer for The Last Of Us: Part II makes it appear as if Ellie is primarily driven by revenge and anger (whether she’s going after the Fireflies or another group remains ambiguous) as opposed to begrudging compassion, her haunting rendition of “Through the Valley” by Shawn James calling back to the trauma she experienced when David captured her in the “Winter” segment of the original game.
This makes her a very different, darker protagonist than Joel, and now that she’s an adult, there is so much more story potential for her than when she was a 14-year-old able to find pockets of joy even in the bleakest of moments.
Ellie, it should also be noted, is one of the only playable LGBT characters in video games who isn’t defined by relationships or sex appeal. I bring this up not because it’ll necessarily affect the gameplay experience in the sequel, but because it’s a great sign of inclusion from the gaming community, and yet another reason why making her the protagonist of Part II is such a great move on Naughty Dog’s part.
I may have had some trepidations about whether The Last of Us should continue or remain a standalone experience, but the beautiful trailer and the news that Ellie will be the main playable character have wiped the doubts away. With the right story, the active aim of improving some of the original game’s shortcomings — and of course the return of composer Gustavo Santaolalla — The Last of Us: Part II has the potential to be even greater than the first, and I cannot wait to play it!
‘The Last of Us 2’ does not yet have a release date
Naughty Dog has also revealed that they’re working on an Uncharted spin-off game titled Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Watch the trailer below: