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The Last of Us 2 dev tricks video features spinning trees and blocky NPCs

The Last of Us 2
(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Some The Last of Us 2 development tricks have been outlined in a new video that showcases the extraordinary talents of the devs at Naughty Dog.

The video, from YouTuber Speclizer, highlights nine techniques the studio used to facilitate development on its latest game. By manipulating the game's camera, Speclizer gets a close look at parts of the game that most players never get to see, and that Naughty Dog did its best to keep hidden.

A few of those tips are purely visual. One instance shows the clever use of camera angles to prevent animators from needing to create complex process, like Ellie putting on her shoes. Others explain how the 2D lighting in the barn dance scene is made to look 3D, or how complex textures - like the mess the mutilated moose made of the snow - are added to the game. One particularly amusing clip outlines the Billboard technique, which moves flat objects to ensure they're always facing the player. Traditionally reserved for objects far away from the player, Speclizer's use of the camera results in the trees of rural Washington spinning in place as they turn to point towards the ever-changing viewpoint.

While most focus on visual trickery, other tips have gameplay and performance ramifications. One clip explains how Naughty Dog simplifies the appearance or animation of distant NPCs to save computing space, showing some charmingly stuttery characters wandering around Jackson, and some extremely blocky, entirely faceless people patrolling the WLF stadium in Seattle. Another shows how developers can use extreme close-ups to teleport the player without them noticing; in the fight between Abbie and Ellie, the two characters need to be in a specific spot when they fall through the floor, and Naughty Dog moves them there no matter where the scuffle takes place.

This isn't the first time Speclizer has seen beyond what Naughty Dog expected the player to see. In previous out-of-bounds videos, they've discovered that The Last of Us 2 models are so detailed that they have fingerprints, and that Abby can kill Tommy in the sniper section - if she's fast enough.

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Ali Jones

I'm GamesRadar's deputy news editor, working with Ben T across our gaming news articles. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.