The Last of Us is widely considered to have one of the most perfect video game endings of all time, so how the hell is Naughty Dog going to a) follow on from the perfect closure of that denouement and b) somehow top it with its climax for The Last of Us 2. It's the question that's one everyone's minds right now so, naturally, I asked the GamesRadar team their predictions on how The Last of Us 2 will roll in the credits when it releases on February 21 next year.
This is the latest in a series of big questions we'll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter.
Ellie will exact her revenge on Joel
Neil Druckmann has referred to this sequel as a game about hate, rather than love, which is why I think the final moments we'll be a harsh mirror image of the original game's ending. It seems a safe bet that Ellie will find out that she had the cure for the virus but Joel refused to let her be experimented on so, while I have no idea how we'll get there, I reckon Ellie will withhold some type of info from Joel to hurt him, rather than protect him, as a form of revenge. That or Ellie starts a kennel service as a way of ensuring no more dogs need to be murdered in Seattle. Ben Tyrer
Ellie sacrifices herself to make a cure
The whole final point of the original game was that Joel prevented Ellie from being dissected to help create a cure to the fungus that had destroyed mankind, dooming humanity in the process. It's a simple, impossible decision: chose between someone you love, or the fate of every other living person. The final moments left it very open to interpretation as to whether Ellie fully understood what had actually happened, but I think Part 2 will lean in to her fully knowing her potential importance. Naughty Dog and director Neil Druckmann have made it clear they create deceptive trailers so while I think Ellie's love interest Dina will die, I don't think anyone will directly kill her. Instead I think the actions of whoever Ellie is threatening will accidentally lead to Dina being bitten by Clickers.
Ellie is out for revenge for that initially but the bulk of the game will see her trying to reach a government base so she can turn herself in as 'the cure', full of guilt over Dina's death, and the many more she could have prevented, and knowing full well what that means. In Joel's first trailer appearance he asks Ellie "you really want to go through with this?", while in his second he remarks, "you think I'd let you do this on your own?" while looking... what? Sad? Guilty? I think he's helping Ellie to make the sacrifice because he knows the good it will do despite the price paid and, while he failed to make the decision before, he's going to be there for Ellie if that's what she's decided to do. Leon Hurley
With a Joel-shaped cliffhanger – and a Last of Us 3 tease
The Last of Us felt one-and-done: it had the perfect send-off, filled with ambiguity and emotion. Chapter 2, however, is (and I’m groaning at just how cliched this sounds) probably going to pull an Empire Strikes Back, as the dark(er) chapter sandwiched in the middle of a trilogy, lost limb notwithstanding. Though don’t count it out.
That means Ellie is going to have to suffer a major loss – and I hope it’ll revolve around Joel. Whether it’s Ellie finding the recording of Joel shooting up the hospital (please, god, no) at the end of the last game, or his fate is left dangling in another bruising cut to black, I’m quite cynically expecting The Last of Us 2 to set up Chapter 3 in a way that'll have everyone buzzing for the next few years. Bradley Russell
Ellie makes the world burn
“You really gonna go through with this?” That’s the quote used in the recent promotional material which fits with the narrative of revenge Naughty Dog are telling in this chapter, but I think it points to something far bigger. Obviously Ellie is going to lose someone on this journey whether it’s Joel or Dina is up for debate but she’s going to be pissed about it. Having lost the thing that means the most to her I’m predicting that she takes a dark turn, and, realising that the same world she’s trying to save has taken away what matters most decides that if she can’t have what she wants no-one can.
A rampage ensues with Ellie going after everyone and anyone that’s ever stopped her being happy, but it’s not enough to dull the pain caused by her loss. The ending scene is Ellie in a wide field with a gun to her head as she pulls the trigger the screen cuts to black and ends any hope of a cure. So Ellie, “You really gonna go through with this?” James Jarvis
Ellie kills Joel and becomes a hermit
After working side by side with Joel to avenge the death of Dina, the Western Liberation Front shows Ellie footage of Joel blowing through the entire hospital from TLOU. They know that she won't give up pursuing them unless something derails her, and her relationship with Joel is her last remaining weak point.
Overcome with rage and blinded by this betrayal, Ellie turns from the footage and immediately kills Joel before murdering every member of the WLF in the vicinity. She walks off into the woods, presumably to live alone in a cabin for the rest of her years. Or until some plucky youngster ends up on her doorstep in TLOU3, begging for help. Alyssa Mercante
Ellie and Dina run off into the sunset with an army of dogs
I'll be upfront, I never finished the Last of Us. I've already received scornful looks from certain members of the GR+ team for admitting this. I picked it up on my PS4 in 2014, but eventually got far too distracted by Dragon Age: Inquisition to really commit to finishing it off. So naturally my knowledge of what went on in the first is pretty limited. All I remember is you play a beardy bloke called Joel who meets a young girl called Ellie...oh, and I think there was something about some group with a firefly emblem or some such. So yeah, that's what I have to work with.
I've also seen the Part 2 trailer, so riffing off of that, this is how I think it ends: Ellie is actually out to free all of the dogs and save them from fighting anyone. Once all of the poochy pals are free of the people with guns, Ellie and Dina (who is perfectly okay, by the way) run off into the sunset with an army of good doggos… and maybe Joel just mysteriously disappears for some reason to leave you with a cliffhanger that might never be answered. Heather Wald
Ellie kills Joel after he goes too far
The Last of Us is about horrible situations with no good answers, so there's zero chance The Last of Us 2 has a happy ending. That being said, this admittedly out-there hypothetical might just be grim enough to work. By the end of The Last of Us, it's clear that Joel will do anything to protect Ellie, including murdering dozens of soldiers (and her former caretaker) and lying to her about it.
It feels like he has nothing left to lose apart from her, or at least that's how he acts, and given the grim tone and rising stakes of The Last of Us 2, I have a feeling he and Ellie will butt heads in a big way. Like, a gun to the back of the head kind of way. I'm talking a full-on, Of Mice and Men-style, reluctant execution. Joel, driven to obscene violence by his not-unjustified Sad Dad energy, will present Ellie with an unsavory ultimatum. After learning of Joel's actions in the finale of the first game, Ellie will feel she has no choice but to side with the rest of humanity (including her apparently missing girlfriend) over Joel. What that means for Ellie's future, I can only guess. Austin Wood
Ellie dies in Joel's arms
The Last of Us opens with one of the biggest gut punches in video games: Sarah, Joel's daughter, dies in his arms after a narrow escape from rampaging infected and murderous soldiers. It sets up the character arc we see for Joel throughout the rest of the game: first distant and impatient with Ellie and eventually softening to a fatherly role as their travels continue.
You can bet Joel saw Sarah's moments flashing in his eyes when he decided to kill every last Firefly soldier and doctor in that Salt Lake City hospital, rather than let Ellie die for a potential cure. But the same protective rage he felt then will become Ellie's undoing as she carries it within herself, and though Joel will do his best to help her, it won't be enough. The Last of Us 2 will end just as The Last of Us began, with Joel's daughter dying in his arms. Connor Sheridan
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