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 PlayStation Experience in 2016. What story will the sequel tell? How will it build on the gameplay of its predecessor? Here is everything we know so far.
Naughty Dog has kept most plot details under wraps, but we know the game takes place five years after the original The Last of Us. Although the first game focused on the loving bond between Joel and Ellie, Druckmann told fans at PlayStation Experience 2016 that the theme of the sequel is “hate.” We also know players will primarily control Ellie rather than Joel this time around.
Following the announcement at PlayStation Experience 2016, Druckmann, along with voice actors Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), took part in a panel hosted by Game Informer’s Andy McNamara.
Druckmann 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.”
Regarding the script, Druckmann’s co-director for The Last of Us and Uncharted 4, Bruce Straley, 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.
At PlayStation Experience 2017, Druckmann revealed the game will largely take place in Seattle, confirming a popular Reddit fan theory.
Trailers and other details
As part of the original announcement, Naughty Dog released the first trailer for the game. A visibly older Ellie (19, Druckmann has confirmed), plays a guitar in a ruined house. She discusses hunting down and killing a group of people, so she carries some of that hate Druckmann was talking about.
Interestingly, while Joel is shown speaking to Ellie, he is kept out of focus, mostly seen in silhouette or shot from behind. The framing in the trailer has led many fans to wonder whether or not Joel has died in the time between the two games.
Naughty Dog released a second trailer during Sony’s 2017 Paris Games Week presentation, which was light on details but slathered in mood and brutality.
Unlike the first trailer, Joel and Ellie don’t appear at all in this trailer. Instead, we are introduced to new characters: In a dark, rainy forest a woman with a scar on her face, leading two henchmen, hangs one woman and tortures another before they are both rescued by a bow-wielding ally from the forest before the “demons” attack. Druckmann offered a little commentary after the fact on Sony’s Paris Games Week live-stream, pointing out that this demo was designed to both show off technical effects such as rain, and to emphasize that, while this is a direct extension of the first game’s story, the sequel will expand the scope of the series to be more of an ensemble piece. The characters in the trailer are some of the important new characters we will meet along the way. We know the young man’s name is Lev (13), and the young woman is his older sister Yara (16).
In addition to the trailers, 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.
During The Last of Us: Part 2 cast panel at PlayStation Experience 2017, Sony introduced the three primary characters of the second trailer: Yara, the kidnapped girl who’s arm is broken, will be played by Victoria Grace. Lev, the boy with the bow, will be played by The OA actor Ian Alexander. Lastly, the as-yet unnamed character being hanged in the trailer, will be voiced by popular game voiceover actress Laura Bailey.
Release date and platform
Sony has not announced a launch window for when the The Last of Us: Part 2. At PlayStation Experience 2017, Druckmann claimed The Last of Us Part II was “50 to 60” percent finished. That doesn’t tell us anything real definitive, though it suggests that Naughty Dog has made significant progress since the game was announced a year ago. At that time, Part II was in the early stages of development.
As for when we’ll hear more, Druckmann said the PlayStation 4 exclusive would make an appearance at E3 2018.
Update: Added new details from PlayStation Experience 2017.
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