The Last of Us 2 gameplay video highlights open-ended levels with stories and fights you might not even find

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

The latest The Last of Us 2 video reveals that levels are now so open-ended, you might miss story moments or combat encounters. 

That comes in the latest behind-the-scenes video on Naughty Dog's sequel that is all about the kind of gameplay you can expect from it. Head here to check out the latest video, "Inside the gameplay."

If you thought The Last of Us gave you space to explore, prepare yourself for The Last of Us 2. The developers don't want the sequel to feel like a series of combat encounter. "That pushed us to make our level design even more open than it was in the first game, which for us at the time, was pretty open" says co-game director, Anthony Newman, "In this game we've gone so far in making the level design open that there are actually entire story moments, entire combat encounters, like full scripted sequences, that you might completely miss." 

You read that right - you might miss a chunk of story in The Last of Us 2 if you don't explore enough. Since Naughty Dog titles are usually quite linear, this is a big deal. "There are things where we feel like, even though a portion of our player base may never see these things, the fact that when you do encounter them you feel like you discovered them, it lends them this charm and this magic that I think is unique to games," Newman gushes. 

Aside from the expansive world, The Last of Us 2 gameplay will focus on surviving the post-apocalyptic world and its many obstacles. "Obstacles could be infected, it could be other people, it could just be the environment, it could be rushing water," Neil Druckmann says. And you'll have to navigate those obstacles as Ellie, the focal point of Naughty Dog's decisions regarding how the game plays. "The gameplay philosophy is putting you in the shoes of Ellie and everything that means," says game director Kurt Margeau. "It means giving you a threat, constantly, as this world has. It means giving you the hard choices."

If you thought there were some hard choices in the original game, then you should mentally prepare for The Last of Us 2, which seems to be doubling down on the difficulty. "Because this game takes place in such a hostile universe, and our characters are pushed to do really difficult things, we want to put you in alignment with those choices," explains narrative lead Halley Gross. "We want you to understand how hard certain decisions were for these characters, 'cause they're hard for you." Gross' voiceover lines up perfectly with a shot of Ellie slowly stabbing a guy in the neck, so, talk about a hard decision.

Druckmann reiterates that the gameplay and story are melded together, and that mechanical systems help to tell the story. "You have to feel the pressure of survival," he says. "Survive by the skin of my teeth, how do I use all the scrap around me? Any kind of bullet, any kind of rag, any kind of bottle of alcohol, how do we give you that sense of being a survivor in this world?" I don't think I'd survive very long, tbh…

Ellie's physical stature will also affect gameplay as she's smaller and more nimble than Joel. You'll feel the pressure of trying to survive a fight with people who are larger than you, and you'll have to rely on her nimble movements to get a leg up. That's why there's two new mechanics: jump and prone, which let Ellie use elevation (or the lack thereof) to her advantage.

It certainly seems like The Last of Us 2 has vastly improved upon the core mechanics of the original title, which will make for a game that's even more stressful and intense than its predecessor. We'll see just how intense when The Last of Us 2 debuts on June 19, although we can expect more from PlayStation's "Inside the Last of Us Part 2" series, as it's debuting a new video every Wednesday from May 13 to June 3.

If you're in the market for a new console, check out The Last of US 2 PS4 Pro bundle (it's pretty).

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.