The follow up to one of 2013’s most successful video games The Last of Us is officially on the way. Developer Naughty Dog, whose titles include Ucharted: A Thief’s End and Crash Bandicoot, decided to end the rumours and speculation surrounding the game by showing off the sequel’s first reveal trailer, and, in typical Naughty Dog style, the footage left fans with much to discuss.
During this year’s PlayStation Experience (PSX) conference, writer/director Neil Druckmann, along with Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie), took to the stage to reveal and discuss the new game. Having successfully kept The Last of Us Part II‘s existence a secret, the trio were thrilled to finally be able to talk about the game publicly for the first time, and shared their thoughts on the characters, the story and the world. It’s clear that there’s a lot of passion going into the sequel and, judging by the trailer, that passion is working wonders in the game’s development stages:
The Last of Us Part II clearly puts the focus on Ellie, and, even without hearing Druckmann’s comments confirming this, you can see that by how the trailer places the tough young survivor at its centre. Following on from this point, if we take a look at what’s going on with Joel, everything just seems a bit off with him. First appearing in the doorway as a dark silhouette against the white background outdoors, he proceeds to walk past rooms filled with the bloody corpses of recently killed firefly (presumably) members, we think this is Ellie’s doing. The way he then speaks to Ellie will be very familiar to those who’ve played the first game, but his choice of words, along with the way the camera is angled to his back and pushing him out of frame, but always facing Ellie head on, could be the ultimate reveal here. My guess is that Joel is now dead, and the one we’re seeing in the trailer is a figment of Ellie’s imagination. He’s still there, mentoring her through each step of the way, but his presence is that of a ghost, which harkens back to him appearing as a dark, shadowy outline as he walks towards the doorway. The overall point is that the distinctive conversational tone and the shot-reverse shot, between-characters camera transitioning from The Last of Us have been abandoned here, and that’s what makes Ellie the main focus and Joel seem slightly less than real.
How did Joel die? Could be anything at this point, we know he was a middle-aged man in The Last of Us (Part I) and if Part II is moving us roughly five years into the future then he could have simply passed away for less interesting reasons such as coming down with a flu that he couldn’t get over, or not being able to carry on after the injuries he’s sustained. But this is The Last of Us, and so there’s no doubt that his demise will probably have been more dramatic.
As mentioned above, the game will be all about Ellie, and Druckmann went as far as to say that in the sequel we will be playing as Ellie, and, touching back on the deceased fireflies laying around all over the house, she seems very, very bitter this time around. This looks as though its more than just the same as the teenage angst moments we saw from her in the first instalment. Druckmann also stated that this new game will be about hatred, and, more specifically, making the player feel the “hate” Ellie feels. My guess here, and the popular fan theory, is that Joel was perhaps killed by the fireflies in revenge for choosing to take Ellie away from them, of course saving her life in the process. You have to remember that Ellie’s immunity could very well have been the answer to developing a cure for the cordyceps virus and saving mankind, but Joel would not let her be sacrificed, which we understand comes from his desire to be a father figure for Ellie, and wanting to relive the life he had before the crisis with his daughter Sarah.
Of course, there are other theories out there. IGN posits that perhaps Ellie’s seemingly ineffective dose of the virus is slowly catching up with her, and that her growing rage, and general mental state may indicate that she’s gradually turning.
The Last of Us Part II is yeat to receive an official release date.