The Last of Us Part 2 is an elusive beast, popping up at various gaming events with a mind-blowing trailer, and then fading back into the darkness without so much as a release date for us to hold on to. The fact that Sony isn't holding its usual PlayStation Experience this year means that we're unlikely to get another substantial look at the game until 2019 too.
Luckily what we have seen has been beautiful, brutal, and already has us invested in Ellie's mental, physical and romantic well-being as she struggles in the post-post apocalypse. There's still so much we don't know - How does Ellie feel about the choice Joel made to save her at the end of the last game? Where is Joel, and why hasn't he appeared in any of the trailers yet? Who are the strange cult that have made such an impression in the footage we've seen so far? - but here are all the hard facts we have gathered about The Last of Us Part 2.
- The Last of Us Part 2 release date: TBC
- Formats: PS4, PS4 Pro
- Developer: Naughty Dog
The Last of Us Part 2 release date is currently unknown
No real surprise on this one. Naughty Dog has a history of delays, and it's understandable that the studio might not want to commit to a Last of Us Part 2 release date yet. Both The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 were pushed back on more than one occasion, so it seems wise that Druckmann and co. are currently playing it cool. Given that we've only just seen a gameplay demo as of E3 2018, this one might still be a way off.
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The Last of Us Part 2 story will focus on Joel and Ellie. But Joel is still (mostly) missing
We haven't seen Joel yet, but we (probably) know he's still around, as the latest E3 gameplay demo makes explicit reference to Ellie's "old man". Still, that doesn't name Joel explicitly, so there's still a chance his presence will be a psychological one rather than a literal one. Naughty Dog does love misdirecting its audience before its big games release.
When discussing the possibility that the game might follow a new cast, director Neil Druckmann has stated that “The Last of Us is about these two characters specifically,” at last year's PlayStation Experience. “‘Part 2’ is saying this is going to be a larger story; it’s going to be a complementary story to the first game, but together, the two combined are going to tell this much larger tale.” So yes, Joel will be a major part of the story. We just don't yet know in what capacity. Joel's daughter, Sarah, was the driving force of the first game, and, well...
Either way, judging by Druckmann’s comments, this follow-up is going to be much more closely linked to its predecessor than many other triple-A sequels. Seeing as the last game ended on such a wonderfully ambiguous, quasi-cliffhanger, we expect The Last of Us 2 to deal with the lie Joel told Ellie during that emotional epilogue.
Don’t forget, the weathered Texan smuggler basically doomed humanity to extinction when he stopped the Fireflies from performing a lethal operation on Ellie that could have produced a cure for the Cordyceps Brain Infection. Sure, he saved his surrogate daughter’s life, but he also went against her wishes; damning humanity to generations of scratching out an existence against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse.
Whether or not Ellie bought Joel's lie is currently unknown, but what we do know is that she seems really, really angry - though not without humanity. In the game's first trailer, she states an intent to "Kill every last one of them" (whoever "them" might be), and the E3 2018 trailer intercuts moments of tender friendship and romance with extreme violence on a par with with the graphic horror of French New Extreme cinema. Whatever's going on, Ellie is in an interesting place.
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The Last of Us Part 2 gameplay shows Ellie meting out a whole lot of bloody violence
As of Sony's E3 2018 presentation, we've now, finally, had an intensive look at some The Last of Us Part 2 gameplay. And "intensive" is indeed the world. Very much taking its cues from the first game's meaty, improvisational, evasion-driven guerrilla combat, The Last of Us Part 2 looks to take a somewhat quicker, more nimble approach with Ellie as its protagonist - she can grab bottles and hurl them seamlessly at attackers without breaking a sprint, for instance, and her transitions between various types of cover and combat look a lot slicker than Joel's. That said, the level of graphic violence has clearly gone up.
The Last of Us was no slouch when it came to uncomfortable gore, but the Last of Us Part 2 gameplay demo is on a whole other level. Following a tender scene of friendship and romance, we starkly cut to Ellie, knife already in a man's throat, gutting him like a fish. It only stays messy from there on out, the violence depicted as hovering somewhere between extravagantly graphic bloodletting and gritty, anatomically realistic unpleasantness. It's nasty, crunchy, choking, gurgling, and wheezing stuff throughout.
Hopefully there's a reason for that. The first game was, after all, a violent game about violence, in which the unglamourous depiction of killing with repercussions formed a great deal of the point. With so little context for Ellie's actions so far, it's hard to know whether The Last of Us Part 2 is doing something clever here, or just trying to win a 'maturity' arms-race with itself. We'll probably only know for sure when we get hold of the final game.
The Last of Us Part 2 trailer selection is high on mood and threat, low on context
We've actually now had a few different The Last of Us Part 2 trailers, yet still, somehow, we have very little idea of what's going on. The first was an ambient piece, reintroducing Joel and Ellie while giving very little detail of the scenario. The second was a sustained, gruelling bout of violence, depicting a bunch of characters we don't know, but hinting at a far more tribalised society with at least one murderous cult in its midst.
As of E3 2018 though, we have a proper, focused look at Ellie and her story, told through both cutscene and The Last of Us Part 2 gameplay. Though you probably watched it on the way to scrolling down here. No, we're still not sure what's going on either.
The Last of Us Part 2 takes place in Seattle (partly)
Fans had already worked this one out pretty well, but The Last of Us Part 2 director Neil Druckmann confirmed it at PlayStation Experience 2017: a "large part" of the game will take place in Seattle.
The original began in Boston then went on a journey across the United States as far west as Salt Lake City. When we last saw Joel and Ellie, they'd headed back east a ways to Jackson County in Wyoming, planning to stay at the settlement led by Joel's brother Tommy. We don't know how long that arrangement lasted, but Ellie's clearly done more traveling since then.
Still, that's just a "large part". It seems unlikely that The Last of Us Part 2 will remain rooted in the Pacific Northwest after how much roving the first game did. Maybe Ellie will make her way down the coast? We don't know if things are as bad on the western seaboard in terms of infection and military oppression. But it wouldn't be much of a survival story if Ellie just traipsed down to Portland and lived happily ever after.
The Last of Us 2 is being co-written by one of Westworld’s writers
Gross is actually a talented Jack - should that be ‘Jill’(?) of all trades - having also acted in shows as diverse as Comedy Central’s Broad City to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It’s not clear if Naughty Dog approached Gross following Westworld’s astronomical success, or if she’s been helping out on The Last of Us 2 for a while. Regardless, it’s super exciting to see a writer who’s penned scripts for the hottest show on the planet get involved with the story of The Last of Us 2.
Gross is actually a talented Jack - should that be ‘Jill’(?) of all trades - having also acted in shows as diverse as Comedy Central’s Broad City to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It’s not clear if Naughty Dog approached Gross following Westworld’s astronomical success, or if she’s been helping out on The Last Of Us 2 for a while. Regardless, it’s super exciting to see a writer who’s penned scripts for the hottest show on the planet get involved with the story of The Last Of Us 2.
Couldn't be prouder to be a part of this! https://t.co/hXSWa1QhoXDecember 3, 2016
The Last of Us 2 is not co-directed by Bruce Straley
After directing both The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 alongside Neil Druckmann, it’s been revealed that Bruce Straley won’t be co-directing The Last of Us Part 2. Considering his last two games are stone cold classics, it’s an undeniable bummer. Naughty Dog confirmed Straley won’t be involved with The Last of Us 2 in a statement to Kotaku, though the developer did hint he may be working on his own game (a new IP, perhaps?) when he returns to work:
“Bruce recently decided to take some much deserved time off after shipping two critically acclaimed games in the last few years. He’s looking forward to returning to the studio soon and jumping back in on his next project.”
Whether Druckmann will take on the dual roles of both creative director and game director on The Last of Us 2 is unclear. Perhaps Naughty Dog will bring in a new director to allow Neil to concentrate fully on ensuring this sequel’s script lives up to the impeccable standards set by the original.
Update: Bruce Straley has since left Naughty Dog, so he definitely won't be joining back in on the company's future projects, either.
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The Last of Us 2 soundtrack will feature the original game's composer
Gustavo Santaolalla is the man. Specifically, a man who is very, VERY good at writing music. The Argentine composer won back-to-back Best Original Score Oscars for his work on Brokeback Mountain and Babel, before going on to conduct The Last of Us’ masterfully melancholic soundtrack. Druckmann recently confirmed Santaolalla is returning to compose the music for the Last of Us Part 2, especially notable as it’s the first time he’s returned for a sequel.
“We’ve been talking about this project for a couple of years,” Druckmann admits at the PlayStation Experience. “He’s never done a sequel to anything he’s done. He’s so prolific and so good. He has these passion projects he just picks and chooses. He doesn’t care about the money. He started writing some new themes for us, and for this trailer you hear some new themes at the beginning, and a new rendition for the original theme at the end.” Buckle up, eardrums. If /that/ giraffe scene is anything to go by, The Last of Us 2 is going to be one of PS4’s most invigorating audio experiences…