- The Last of Us Part 2 release date: TBC
- Formats: PS4, PS4 Pro
- Developer: Naughty Dog
It's been too long since we heard the sound of a clicker hunting us through a ruined urban landscape, but at least we know more information about the The Last of Us Part 2 can't be far away. Massive gaming trade show E3 is next month, and game director Neil Druckmann has confirmed that we'll see more of The Last of Us Part 2 at the show. We can even start to hope for a release date, even if it's just a seasonal hint, like summer 2019.
Until then, here's everything that you need to know about The Last of Us Part 2 so far, including the return of Joel and Ellie, new faces, new timelines and more.
The Last of Us Part 2 will focus on Joel and Ellie
As the first teaser trailer suggests, the story will again focus on Joel and Ellie. This wasn't a given though, according to Druckmann he and Naughty Dog’s other bigwigs briefly toyed with the idea of making The Last of Us 2 about other characters. Thank Ellie’s viscera-splattered guitar they saw sense. “The Last of Us is about these two characters specifically,” Druckmann elaborated 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.”
And here we were thinking The Last of Us 2 was going to put us in the decomposing shoes of a Clicker who just wanted to know what it was like to fall in love. 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.
When it comes to The Last of Us 2 story details, we expect to find out whether or not Ellie has bought into Joel’s lie, and if not, explore the resentment that’s bound to have festered in her for the past five years. Druckmann has also hinted the story may touch on religion. Don’t be surprised if the Fireflies want revenge on Joel, either. Seeing as he killed their leader Marlene and wiped out a good chunk of their forces during the final chapter of the first game, we’re inclined to assume that they’re interested in exacting some extra bloody payback. If the Fireflies are trying to finish Joel and anyone who stands with him, perhaps Ellie is referring to the faction when she glibly promises to “kill every last one of them,” during The Last of Us 2’s first trailer. Joel’s noticeable reluctance against Ellie’s resolve could be an indication of his fear of her discovering the truth about what went down at Firefly HQ during the climax of the first game.
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The Last of Us Part 2 will let you play as Ellie
“Joel was the star of the first game,” says Druckmann. “Ellie’s the star of this game.” Naughty Dog’s potty-mouthed teen is one of the most authentically written characters in PlayStation history, so it’s no surprise that PlayStation’s premier first-party studio is allowing her to blossom even further as the lead character of The Last of Us 2.
“Ellie plays differently than Joel,” admits Druckmann. “I’m getting into risky territory here [laughs]. Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.” Don’t worry, Neil. You failed to spill even a single bean. Naughty Dog is understandably keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to Last Of Us 2 gameplay details, but it seems safe to assume Ellie will handle quite differently to the way Joel did last time out.
In the first Last Of Us, you briefly play as Ellie over the course of the game’s mesmerising, entirely sinister Winter chapter; with the roles reversed as the resourceful teen becomes Joel’s protector after he’s badly injured by a group of dastardly cannibals. Naughty Dog also went on to devote an entire piece of Last Of Us story DLC to Ellie (the brilliant Left Behind), so players are already somewhat accustomed to stepping in the toes of the teenage prodigy. From both of these sequences, we learned that Ellie is much quicker than Joel, and her fleet-footed stealth crawl made it easier to outflank enemies. On the flipside, it also meant she could take way less damage than her Texan chum. If you do get to play as Joel in certain sections of The Last of Us 2, don’t be surprised if he’s more cumbersome to control than Ellie - in fairness, dude has some serious city miles on him.
The Last of Us 2 Part 2 will feature new characters, and nasty things will happen to them
Paris Games Week furnished us with our newest look at The Last of Us Part 2. And decidedly brutal it is too. Devoid of either Joel or Ellie, the cutscene depicts a currently unknown female character being dragged into the camp of a violent cult (of which it's later suggested she might be a member), whereupon she's rapidly strung up and interrogated while near-hanged from a tree.
The 'conversation' is quickly interrupted though, as a second woman is hauled in. Clearly no friend of the cult herself, her own interrogation rapidly turns very nasty by way of a hammer to the elbow. From there on in, it's all axes, arrows, and leg-based choke-holds, as things really get out of hand, leading to our first (brief) look at The Last of Us Part 2's Cordyceps fungus zombies.
What can we learn from all of this? Well despite the lack of known characters or narrative context (a scenario which has led many to question the value of the brutality on show), we get a pretty decent view of the state of The Last of Us' world five years after the first game. The Cordys clearly remain a significant threat, and if anything, humanity seems even more divided and factional. The presence and behaviour of the cult seems to back director Neil Druckman's earlier statement that this game is about hate, where the first was about love, as does the curiously conflicted reaction of a later, seemingly benevolent character to the sight of a woman hanging from a tree, choking her last.
It might have seemed that things couldn't get worse by the end of the first game, but so far, that seems far from the case.
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 Part 2 fan tattoos will definitely be a thing
Other than brief glimpses, story details are pretty sketchy at the moment. We know Ellie is seriously angry, we know she wants revenge, and it looks like Joel is back for the ride… even if he is a strangely passive presence in the first Last Of Us 2 trailer. With most of the first game’s key players returning, including Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson reprising their roles as Joel and Ellie, and Neil Druckmann once again acting as creative director, the stage is set for Naughty Dog to deliver one hell of sequel. Oh, and Ellie totally has a badass tattoo now. That’s one cool way to hide your zombie bites...
Since so many asked for them, here're Ellie's Tattoo (designed by @nataliehall) & outfit (designed by @coyotehackles). pic.twitter.com/cPGsX8vppkDecember 7, 2016
The Last of Us 2 release date is currently unknown
No real surprise on this one. Naughty Dog has been burned a couple of times promising release dates the studio couldn’t quite deliver, subsequently singeing its stupidly talented fingers when the games were delayed. 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 in regards to The Last of Us 2 release date.
Thus, The Last of Us 2 currently has no ETA. And, while the trailers so far have been mighty polished, we haven't seen a second of gameplay yet. As such, it wouldn't be wise to expect a more specific launch window than 'some time' any time soon.
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The Last of Us 2 has been in the works for a long time
Turns out, everyone who works for or with Naughty Dog is really good at keeping secrets. Who’d have thunk it? Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson have been working on The Last of Us 2 for a couple of years now, so god knows how long Neil Druckmann has been beavering away on the game’s script. “He [Neil] sent me that scene a couple of years ago, with that song which is by Shawn James [Through The Valley],” says Johnson speaking at the PlayStation Experience.
Druckmann admits he first pitched The Last of Us 2 to Johnson back when he told the actress about the original game’s Left Behind DLC. “So as we walked through the whole story of Left Behind, Ashley’s crying at the end,” says Druckmann. “Then I’m like, ‘I have one more story I want to pitch’, and I walked her through the story of Part II, and she’s bawling by the end of it.” To put that into context, Left Behind came out in February 2014. That’s some damn fine secret-keeping.
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The Last of Us 2 story is set five years after the original
In terms of hard facts we have on The Last of Us Part 2, this is the biggie. Set half a decade on from the events of the original game, the sequel to Naughty Dog’s masterful apocalyptic adventure stars a now 19-year-old Ellie. And if The Last of Us 2 trailer that debuted at Sony’s PlayStation Experience earlier in December is any indication, she is PISSED.
Quite why Ellie is so miffed is a mystery, but we do know father figure Joel will once again be by her side in The Last of Us 2. The main playable character of the original is a weirdly sedate presence in the trailer; all passive dialogue “You really gonna go through with this?”, and ghostly entrances. ustic cover of Shawn James’ “Through The Valley”) was about rainbows and cuddling kittens.
Quite why Ellie is so miffed is a mystery, but we do know father figure Joel will once again be by her side in The Last Of Us 2. The main playable character of the original is a weirdly sedate presence in the trailer; all passive dialogue “You really gonna go through with this?”, and ghostly entrances.
This has led some to some Last Of Us 2 theories where folk are speculating Joel is actually dead. Whether Naughty Dog is trying to pull a Sixth Sense on us or not, it’s clear Ellie and Joel’s relationship is once again the central theme of The Last of Us 2.
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 visuals will be stunning with the most advanced character models to ever hit PS4
Forget the Uncanny Valley, The Last of Us 2 is going to rock the most believable characters Naughty Dog has ever rendered. Hell, listening to Druckmann, they’re gonna be the most sexily sophisticated virtual people ever to grace PS4. “Within Sony’s group this is by far the most advanced character model we’ve ever created,” says Druckmann. “Just the way the flesh can move over the bone… we could never cut to a close-up of eyes before, because we could never get the fidelity. Now we can.”
Getting back to the basics. #TheLastOfUsPart2 https://t.co/i5VS3KgT8LDecember 5, 2016
Using new mo-cap and rendering techniques, Naughty Dog’s artists are transposing some of Ellie and Joel’s facial features onto renders of their actors, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. Druckmann showed off the technique in a behind-the-scenes video at PSX. It showed a render of Johnson with Ellie’s distinctive freckles imprinted over the actress’ face. “We create digital doubles of them, while our artists create a whole new sculpt, a next-gen sculpt, of Joel and Ellie… We’re trying to take the performance of the digital double and transpose it onto Ellie.”
So basically, Naughty Dog are amalgamating the characters and their actors’ facial features to ensure Joel and Ellie are the most authentic virtual lifeforms you’ve ever seen on PS4. Imagining anything that looks better than Uncharted 4’s uncannily lifelike motion-capture is pretty freaky, but if any studio can raise of the bar of its own prestigious achievements, it’s Naughty Dog.
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…