It takes a powerful narrative to survive an onslaught of spoilers leaking months before anyone could actually experience it for themselves. Thankfully, the story of The Last of Us 2 is powerful enough to overcome any spoilers, even when they were running rampant for weeks ahead of the game's late June launch, and there was seemingly no avoiding them.
For The Last of Us 2, a huge slab of leaked gameplay and story information emerged in April, some two-odd months before the game's delayed release date. Somehow there had been a The Last of Us 2 hack, which meant a lot of the main story beats suddenly popped up in Reddit posts, Twitter threads, and all over the internet.
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We live in a world where spoilers, and discussions around spoilers, have become the frustrating norm. People now flock to the mute button across browsers, Twitter, and other social media platforms in an increasingly attempt to shield themselves from their favourite IPs being ruined by overzealous chatterboxes, and I fear it's only going to get worse. Especially if the Last of Us 2 spoilers are anything to go by.
People were posting spoilers in live stream comments, replying to Twitter posts and YouTube videos - literally anywhere they could be spread, you could find them.
Warning, from here on out, there will be a discussion of the Last of Us 2's main story beats, so click away if you've not finished the game yet.
Partly to shield the majority of the GamesRadar team, and partly as an interesting experiment, I took it upon myself to wade through our own Twitter, on-site, and YouTube comments muting literally hundreds of copied and pasted spoiler posts, images, and video links, purging them to the confines of the internet trash. This meant that a long time before I would see the Last of Us 2 title screen, I already knew a lot of what the game would throw at me. Or at least I thought I did.
That's the funny thing about leaks. Although they can be absolutely spot on, they can also leave you with a mirage of misinformation and muddled timelines. In my adventures through early spoiler town, I discovered the following "facts" about the game:
- Ellie kills Joel
- Joel and Ellie die
- Joel dies
- Abbey kills Joel
- Ellie kills Abbey
From that list alone you can see exactly how complicated the leak became as it started to get warped with time and digital conversations. Conflicting statements, screenshots taken out of context, and more, all contributed to the online cacophony around The Last of Us 2. This eventually meant that I went into The Last of Us 2 almost knowing what was going to happen, but not knowing exactly what, or when, or sometimes how.
It's an odd sensation to go into a game with the shadow of expectation hanging over it. In those opening hours where it's clear that Abbey and Ellie's stories are going to collide, in some kind of catastrophic event, but wondering whether it would be Abbey that kills Joel or something else entirely was an odd feeling that only served to fuel that anxious feeling in my stomach.
Once Joel was out of the picture (honestly, even just thinking about it makes me well up), the only spoiler that really hung over me for the rest of the game was the potential of Ellie dying. Everything else came as a welcome surprise. Turns out that spoilers out of context can lose their poignancy.
But, that was never the case for The Last of Us 2's powerful narrative. During my 35-odd hours with the game, I never once cursed knowing hints of what could be to come in Eliie and Abbey's story. Naughty Dog has woven a story so intricate and sensitive that it was impossible for it to feel cheapened by any prior discussions. Its ability to raise so many questions around violence and revenge, all the while shifting my allegiances from Ellie to Abbey, meant that even the spoilers that did turn out to be true lost their impact.
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