Despite its fairly finite name, it turns out The Last of Us wasn’t the last we’d see of The Last of Us. Considering the first game has been continually hailed as a masterpiece thanks to its excellent, emotional story and engaging life-like characters, the decision to develop a sequel isn’t actually all that surprising.
Naughty Dog first announced The Last of Us 2 at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer but noted that it was still in early development, no doubt to stop fan expectations running too wild.
Now that we’re approaching E3 2017, we imagine we’ll get slightly more of an insight into how the development is coming along at Sony’s press conference on Monday June 12. In the meantime, though, this is everything we know about the game so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
- When can I play it? It’ll be a while from now, maybe late 2018 to early 2019
- What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
Trailers and screenshots
So far the only glimpse of the game we’ve had is the teaser trailer that was shown alongside the game’s announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game is early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:
As Naughty dog has said the game is still in the early stages of development, we imagine it’ll be a while before we get to play The Last of Us 2.
We don’t even have a rough release window yet, though considering Naughty Dog has seen the bad side of promising a solid release date and missing it before it’s hard to blame them for not committing at this stage.
That might, however, be something we get at E3 this year so watch this space.
What we know so far
Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go.
At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence.
This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about…something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly.
She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game's well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride.
As Joel is such a passive presence in the trailer there’s been speculation that he’s actually dead, appearing in Ellie’s mind’s eye, and Ellie’s anger and vengeance will be directed at those who caused his death. This isn’t entirely unlikely but it’s purely speculation at this point.
Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage.
The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger.
Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game's story.
Not much is being said about gameplay at the moment. Neil Druckmann said at a PSX Panel that there would, however, be some differences as a result of Ellie being the playable character rather than Joel.
“Ellie plays differently than Joel […] Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.”
It’s hard to glean much from this, but if Naughty Dog take the approach that’s frequently taken with playable female characters, Ellie will probably be more swift on her feet than Joel was but perhaps less able to take damage.
This won't be the first time we've had the chance to play as Ellie, after the first game put us in her shoes for a short mission, but here the purpose of the mission was to make her feel weak in comparison to Joel. We can only hope her abilities will be expanded for the sequel.
What we'd like to see
A new setting
Given that time has moved on 5 years from the end of the first game, it’d be nice to see Joel and Ellie in a new location too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be far from the setting of the first game but considering we have the two lead characters and their relationship to keep us tied to the first game, it’d be nice to play in a new location to keep things feeling fresh and make the introduction of new characters feel more plausible.
Druckmann has said that this game’s story will be larger than the story of the first game and we imagine this necessitates a slightly more expansive setting.
More frightening enemies
The infected in the first game are terrifying and threatening and we want to see more of that. Things don’t have to change too much but new classes of enemy, new character designs and new ways to defeat them would be excellent.
Considering we’ll be playing as Ellie now rather than Joel we imagine players will have to learn to take a different approach to combat anyway as it’s been said she’ll play differently.
It’d also be great to see more human enemies as well as the infected. We saw more than a few morally grey factions make an appearance in the first game so to expand on this and maybe introduce some more elements would be interesting.
The exploration of the morality of humanity in post-apocalyptic scenes is always interesting, particularly considering in games you’re interacting with it directly and feeling its impact more strongly than in most mediums.
The Last of Us 2 has the chance to make a real emotional impact through the human areas it presents us with.
The return of multiplayer
Multiplayer in The Last of Us was surprisingly good so we wouldn’t be averse to seeing it return here. If the game’s main story is going to be as heavy as we expect, it’d certainly be nice to have the option to break free for a while without leaving the game world and connect with others online.