The Last of Us Part II Looks Like It Will Be Just As Special As The Original
Naughty Dog's follow-up to their best game of all time, The Last of Us Part II, looks like it will be just as incredible as the original.
It’s 2011. Uncharted 3 made its way to store shelves just a month before, and it’s the night of the Spike Video Game Awards. The title I was the most looking forward to learning more about was The Last of Us. At the time, we had no details; not even a developer.
There were rumblings that Naughty Dog might be involved due to an Easter Egg found in Uncharted 3, but no one was certain about anything. I distinctly remember the Naughty Dog logo fading on to the screen at the beginning of its trailer, and I let out a scream.
This highly-renowned studio was about to finally dip their toes into a mature story. Given their success with literally every other game they’ve put out, I thought to myself: “there’s no way they can screw this up.” I turned out to be right and seven years later, I have the same confidence in Naughty Dog for their upcoming sequel, The Last of Us Part II.
The Last of Us was a title that, at the end of the day, was an interesting look into how humanity would act when the world we live in was destroyed. One of the reasons it’s so effective is the fact that you didn’t have to suspend your disbelief too much. Cordyceps–the catalyst for The Last of Us‘ post-apocalyptic world–is a fungus that actually exists and acts very similarly to how it does in the game, only on an insect level. Because of this, the game gets to focus more on the characters and people than the world that they live in. It’s about how humanity reacts in a crisis.
From all the trailers and all the information we know so far, it’s pretty safe to say that Ellie is going to be facing her own humanity in Part II. Neil Druckmann has repeatedly said that this story will be about hate and revenge, and I feel that that’s going to add a new depth to the themes we saw in the first game, rather than detract from them.
While we explored certain characters’ motivations in the first game, we never really took a deep dive into a main characters’ humanity in the way that Part II is. Ellie’s story in this game seems like it’s going to get personal. Naughty Dog seems to be implying that Dina, Ellie’s love interest introduced in the E3 2018 trailer/demo, is killed.
As many have pointed out, either A) this happens at the beginning of the game and it’s a huge plot point for the story and needed context to help explain what the story is about or B) this is a red-herring implemented by Naughty Dog. Honestly, given how crafty the developer is, I wouldn’t be surprised if either of these are true, but for the sake of this article, let’s go under the assumption that the former is true.
Exploring how one reacts when someone is quite literally taken out of your life–in what I can only imagine would be a pretty gruesome way–is something that I very much look forward to seeing in The Last of Us Part II. It’s not something we really saw that much of in the first game. Yes, Joel’s daughter is killed in his arms within the first few minutes of the game, but that wasn’t done out of hate. It seems like Dina is going to be brutally murdered and “taken away” from Ellie. The reaction from her is something that I very much look forward to seeing.
Of course, beyond the story and themes itself, there’s still a lot I’m looking forward to with The Last of Us Part II. As with the first game, Naughty Dog looks like it’s going to be setting the bar for graphical quality once again, squeezing out every last drop of power and memory that the PlayStation 4 has to offer.
The only thing I’m questionable about is the gameplay. I personally enjoy Naughty Dog’s gameplay more than probably most, but even I can admit that they need to change a few things when it comes to how their games play. It’s not necessarily the controls, but more the fundamental, moment-to-moment gameplay. Do we really need to spend an eternity moving ladders from one place to another? And can we not have jumps that would make Nathan Drake shake his head in shame?
Regardless, I am beyond excited to get my hands on the next chapter in The Last of Us‘ story. One common thing that I have heard from multiple people in this industry is that this game seems “unnecessary” and that the original game was “perfect as it is,” that it “doesn’t need a sequel.” Maybe they are right. I could roll credits on the game and completely agree with them. But given everything I’ve pointed out above and Naughty Dog’s nearly 100% track record, I trust them. If they say it’s necessary, then until I see otherwise, it’s necessary.
The Last of Us Part II will release exclusively for PS4 on May 29, 2020, and you can pre-order the game right now over on Amazon.