Despite receiving phenomenal critical acclaim for its storyline and the handling of protagonist Ellie’s sexuality, development on the Left Behind expansion for The Last of Us was apparently all but smooth sailing.
In an interview with Game Informer about writing for upcoming PS4 exclusive Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann – who also wrote The Last of Us single-handedly – spoke of the general difficulties faced in the storytelling process, while citing Left Behind as being an example of a challenging project.
When asked what he felt the most under-appreciated aspect of storytelling in video games is, Druckmann replied: “Just how difficult it can be to have a vision for a story and to say, okay, this story is trying to say this; this very specific message. And then to make sure you constantly come back to that, and don’t take shortcuts. You know, when you hit a wall, sometimes it’s so easy to say, ‘Ah, it’s just a game; just hide it and we’ll just have some explosion and get away with it’… To say no, no, no, this moment is really important; let’s make it work and let’s work really hard to make it work.
“An example for that is getting the relationship between Ellie and Riley right in The Last of Us: Left Behind. It took so much iteration on writing, and there is a ton of dialogue we recorded that just did not work – and a lot of it was on the writing; the writing just wasn’t up to par… It required almost re-defining Riley’s character and that relationship with Ellie to get it right. So what might seem like a simple line when you’re finally playing the game, that could’ve been a hundred other lines, and a hundred different versions, before we got to that very simple line.”
In the interview, it was also revealed that Druckmann will be joined by fellow writers Josh Scherr and Tom Bissell to work on the story of Uncharted 4. If the trio can bring the same perfectionism that Druckmann strived for in The Last of Us and its expansion to the table, A Thief’s End is sure to be the strongest Uncharted to date.