The Last of Us Part II Gets More Details on Combat, Stealth, Level Design and Much More

Naughty Dog's Kurt Margenau and Anthony Newman give more details about the gameplay and design philosophy of The Last of Us Part II,

June 13, 2018

During a panel part of the E3 Coliseum live coverage, Naughty Dog’s Kurt Margenau and Anthony Newman talked more about their upcoming game The Last of Us Part II.

  • Ellie doesn’t have the bulk and strength as Joel so her fighting style is more creative and agile, but just as lethal.
  • The analog stealth system works by combining the density of the foliage and Ellie’s stance (crouching or prone) to determine how visible she is. It’s a more nuanced system compared to past games.
  • The new game improves the strategic choices available to the players, represented with the Naughty Dog level of fidelity. Those two pieces create the experience.
  • The AI is even smarter than in the first game. They constantly coordinate with each other, relay their information, and refer to each other by name. They’re represented real intelligent humans. On the other hand, Ellie has become even more capable with the dodge and new crafting items. Both of these elements at the same time increase the tension. Players have to be strategic and use all the resources at their disposal to overcome the very intelligent enemies.
  • Naughty Dog questioned their melee system and looked for ways to make it deeper and more complex. By giving the player a new defensive option they added a whole dimension to combat. “It’s almost like going from 2D to 3D.” The player can manage multiple enemies at once, but it creates a system when players need to determine when to go in and when to back off.
  • The depth of more traditional melee games is paired with Naughty Dog’s fidelity. Whenever Ellie dodges there is an intricate system that analyzes the direction of the strikes, and she does something contextual.
  • Enemies use different weapons, and they have different sets of moves. They can interact with the environment, and with Ellie in different ways.
  • The demo we saw is very open, and it’s possible to go a completely different way. Depending on their choices in that space, players can get some emergent gameplay moments.
  • One of the goals is to give the players many options in combat, and one of these is to not fight. Depending on the space and on the story, the team wants to encourage the players to choose their playstyle. Escaping is a big thing, and every level has places where it’s possible to escape to, and confrontation isn’t the only option. Hiding places and escape routes are built in all the levels.
  • Even running away from the enemies has a lot more dimensionality to it in The Last of Us Part II.
  • There will be upgradable weapons and different craftable ammo types. Those create a connection between the crafting system and the gunplay system.
  • The infected are still a very big threat, and there will be new types in the new game.
  • The team is pursuing an idea of seamlessness with the level design, in which the lines are blurred between combat spaces and non-combat spaces. You never really know where you’re in danger. There is a constant sense of threat, and you feel that you’re in these locations.
Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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