Naughty Dog’s survival game The Last of Us breathed new life into the zombie genre, with emotional storytelling that garnered nigh universal praise. It set a high bar for any sequel to clear, a hurdle that creative director Neil Druckmann recognized in 2014, claiming the studio would only do a sequel if they had “a story that’s really worth telling.” Druckmann and company seem to have found that story, having announced The Last of Us Part II at the this year’s PlayStation Experience. What story will the sequel tell? How will it build on the gameplay of its predecessor? Here is everything we know so far.
First trailer and story details
As part of the announcement, Naughty Dog released the first trailer for the game. The cinematic trailer shows no gameplay, but it does offer a glimpse into the tone of Part II, showing one of the protagonists from the first game, Ellie, playing guitar in a ruined house. Ellie is visibly older than in the first game, and given her talk of hunting down and killing a group of people, she has some anger issues to work through. Interestingly, while the other protagonist Joel is heard talking to her, he is kept out of focus, mostly seen in silhouette or shot from behind.
Following the premiere of the trailer, Druckmann, along with voice actors Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), took part in a panel hosted by Game Informer’s Andy McNamara.
While Druckmann was naturally evasive about plot details, he did offer some hints. Although the first game was about the loving bond between Joel and Ellie, the theme of the sequel is “hate.” He also clarified that players would primarily control Ellie rather than Joel this time around.
Druckmann also took care to reassure fans that Naughty Dog is treating the characters with the respect they deserve. He emphasized that the odd naming convention of Part II was important, saying “The Part II is really kind of doubling down on that to say we believe in this so much… The Last of Us is about these two characters specifically. So yeah,Part II is saying this is gonna be a larger story, this is a complementary story to the first game, but the two together are going to tell this much larger tale.”
These assurances were welcome, especially given that Bruce Straley, Druckmann’s co-director for The Last of Us and Uncharted 4, is not working on Part II. “Bruce recently decided to take some much deserved time off after shipping two critically acclaimed games in the last few years. He’s looking forward to returning to the studio soon and jumping back in on his next project,” Sony said in an official statement to Kotaku. Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who created the score for the first game, will be returning, according to Druckmann.
In addition to the trailer, Naughty Dog has also released some concept art for the game.
New cast members
In addition to Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who will return to their roles as series protagonists, Joel and Ellie. The Last of Us Part II will also feature a new character brought to life by Westworld actress Shannon Woodward, who revealed her role in the game via a photo on Twitter with director Neil Druckmann.
Release date and platform
No release date or platform has been announced for The Last of Us Part II. In a post on the official PlayStation blog, Druckmann said that the game is still in the early stages of development, and that an official release is a long ways off. The Last of Us was a PlayStation 4 exclusive — one that was beautifully remastered for the PS4 in mid-2014 — so it’s likely that Part II will launch as a PS4 exclusive. Presumably, there will also be a version that takes advantage of the PS4 Pro’s upgraded hardware.