Neil Druckmann has had a deep discussion about some of the details of The Last Of Us Part 2 with Playstation Blog. In it he covers a lot of the things we already know about the game, but also reveals some of the smaller details that not everyone pays attention to. Often these details get missed for the larger reveals that follow a game’s themes or narrative, so we’re discussing them here for you.
Druckmann Checked With Ashley Johnson Before The Last Of Us Part 2 Could be Made
In the interview Druckmann explains how, after The Last Of Us, he went to Ashley Johnson, the voice actor and mo-cap for Ellie, to discuss Left Behind. Left Behind was the beautiful standalone title that came after The Last Of Us, telling the story of Ellie before players meet her in the game. It follows Ellie in a much more playful way, showing how she really is a child of this post-pandemic world. The added story was received extremely well by fans, but something else came out of that initial conversation with Johnson too.
Druckmann describes how he also pitched another idea to Johnson, one that was clearly the spark of an idea he had for The Last Of Us Part 2. He goes on to say that Johnson started to cry having heard this idea, and that’s when he knew it was something he needed to work on. This was 2013, six years ago. At the time Druckmann had a plan for a beginning, a middle, and an end, and now he and Naughty Dog have made The Last Of Us Part 2.
Driven by Revenge
The discussion leads on to focus on Ellie. She’s grown up in a world where the Infected have always existed, and she’s never known anything different. Since The Last Of Us she’s carved out a life in Jackson, grown close to someone, Dina her best friend, and has a real life of her own.
We know however, that an event is going to drive Ellie to seek revenge on those who have done something either to her, or something that doesn’t sit right with her. Many fans believe that Dina’s death is the catalyst, but I’m not so sure myself. Whatever the event, Ellie then goes on a journey both physically and emotionally. Players will see her change from the relaxed and happy young woman they meet in the opening, to something that’s a lot close to how Joel feels at the start of The Last Of Us.
Evolving the Infected
One of my favourite aspects of The Last Of Us was the way that Naughty Dog went out of their way to make the Infection seem as real as possible. Druckmann talks about the documentation of the various stages of Infection in the game, how it was meant to ground the pandemic in reality. He adds that in The Last Of Us Part 2 they needed to justify the new Infected variants in the same way, because it’s not enough to just say that these variants happened not to be in the areas Joel and Ellie were.
Druckmann explains, without giving much away, that the new Infected such as the Shamblers are mutations of the Infection. He describes how the mutation will fit in with the lore of The Last Of Us, but doesn’t want to spoil it for anyone. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be satisfied wit how these gas bags work when the game comes out, but for now it’s enough to have the knowledge that environment is a key player in the evolution of the Infected.
Grounding the Killing
Druckmann speaks briefly about the grounding of The Last Of Us Part 2. While Naughty Dog knows it’s important to create a grounded experience, they’re also aware that without the number of enemies Ellie can kill, the tension in the game dissipates. That’s why it may seem like Ellie is a bit of a killing machine. It’s not enough to make a game where any one enemy could kill you, and vice versa, this game needs to make the player feel like everything is on the line at anytime.
This grounding extends to the weapon upgrade system. Players will zoom in and see each weapon Ellie has access to, how she cleans them, and how she modifies them to provide her with a better chance of survival. This is an effort to connect players with the death they’re dealing, and I think it will work quite nicely in the setting of The Last Of Us Part 2.