Who are the real monsters in The Last of Us 2? It could be the terrible people who hurt someone Ellie cares about, or maybe Ellie and Joel themselves as they slip back into their murdersome ways like putting on a comfortable sweater you haven't worn since February. My money's on the freakishly mutated Infected who have nothing but mushrooms where their brains should be and a reflexive urge to spread the fun(gus).
That goes double for the new Shambler enemy type, which The Last of Us 2 game director Neil Druckmann revealed more about in an interview with PlayStation Blog. He started by explaining why we're just now seeing a new kind of Infected, even though we seemed to have a pretty good grip on their lifecycle before.
“In the first game, there is all this documentation about the different stages [of the infection],” Druckmann said. “Now we have to justify why there are different stages. Why are there mutations of these things? Without getting into it here, there is something about the environment and how much time has passed that has allowed these mutations to occur.”
In the original game, Joel and Ellie had four different kinds of Infected to worry about: Runners, Stalkers (which were rare and TOO DAMN SCARY), Clickers, and Bloaters. Each was dangerous on its own and more deadly when found with other types that could cover their weaknesses. In The Last of Us 2, Shamblers will make group encounters even tougher.
“We have Runners that close the distance quickly,” says Druckman. “We have Clickers that move slowly but are one-hit kills. Shamblers provide this area of attack, where they have this cloud of gaseous acid that burns materials around it. It burns your skin. The way you saw it in this demo is that they’re mostly on their own. It gets really interesting because you have a cloud that hurts you when you enter it, but it also blocks your view, then Runners burst through it. So the combinations get really interesting.”
That is the most game-developer-speak way possible to say "you are going to hate these new things we made and we are very happy about that." At least The Last of Us 2 upgrade system will give you some new tools to use as you desperately cling to life.
See where the GR+ team thinks the sequel's story is going as we explore how The Last of Us 2 will end.