The heartbreaking opening of The Last of Us could have looked and felt very different.
The first episode of the official The Last of Us podcast has arrived, and it starts with the first moments of the first game. It's a logical place to begin that also holds some of the most emotionally charged moments in blockbuster video games. Speaking to podcast host Christian Spicer, director Neil Druckmann revealed the game nearly had a different start.
"Initially the opening was you played as Joel, and you would go over to your neighbor's house, and see your neighbor get infected, and have to do your first kill there as Joel, then come back to your house and get Sarah and be on your way. But the more we thought about it, it felt like I've kinda seen that before."
Naughty Dog came into The Last of Us "wanting to do something fresh", Druckmann said, and that came with extra benefits the studio didn't plan for. Like coming up with an intro that not only was an emotional gut punch but also mirrored the later events of the game.
"So it was like, how do we make this interesting? And in one of our brainstorms we got the idea of, well, what if you saw everything through Sarah's eyes? And that became exciting, because you're playing a much more innocent, not as capable person, so you feel the fear of the world falling apart around you, and you feel more helpless.
"We have very limited time with Sarah and we need to establish this character and create all this empathy, because she is the reason why Joel ends up the way he is when we're jumping into the future. And it was a nice foreshadowing of where the story's ultimately going when you play as Ellie. Kind of like you're playing these two daughters that this guy ends up having."
The official Last of Us podcast will delve deeper into the making of the original game for the next three weeks, before turning to The Last of Us 2 starting on July 7.
Check out our final The Last of Us 2 preview to see where it all goes from here.