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Naughty Dog thought The Last Of Us "was going to tank"

The Last Of Us (opens in new tab)? That defining game of the PS3 and then equally exceptional apocalyptic PS4 experience? Yeah, Naughty Dog didn't think it was going to work. In a chat with Will Wheaton on the PlayStation YouTube channel, creative directors Neil Druckmann, Bruce Straley and co-lead game designer Anthony Newman admitted that the team just wasn't confident about Joel and Ellie's adventures.

"We thought it was going to tank," smiles Straley. "We thought we were going to ruin the name and image that's been so heartily built for years. Blood, sweat and tears. We thought we were ruining Naughty Dog's reputation." His fellow director chimes in. "The joke throughout production was 'the downfall of Naughty Dog,'" adds Druckmann.

"A big part of it was on the mechanical side," explains Newman. "I thought, we'll be lucky to scrape by with an 85% or 82% on Metacritic just because it wasn't gelling. It wasn't coming together. It was really like a set of really lucky breaks in terms of gameplay decisions we made that really made everything fall into place and turned into a fun game."

Unsurprisingly, the characters were always key during development . Naughty Dog co president Evan Wells explains that they were always front and centre for the team. "When these guys came to Christophe and me with the pitch, that was the core of the idea 'We're going to make a game that is building a relationship across the entire experience," he says. "We've done it in the past where it's just a mission or two but we wanted this relationship across the whole game and see what that kind of game would be like. And that's what we made."

See the video below as the team go into detail on Joel and Ellie's relationship and how Naughty Dog managed to give us all those gosh darned feels.

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Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.