The latest in Naughty Dog's series of The Last of Us 2 dev diaries focuses on the little details that make the studio's characters stand out, and how the cast of the upcoming sequel takes this ground-up approach to new levels.
"Our hope with this game is to create the most authentic characters you've seen in a game," says narrative lead Halley Gross. "Not just Ellie, not just Joel, but that every character you see is dimensional."
Director Neil Druckmann reiterates Naughty Dog's research-driven approach to storytelling and mo-cap-driven performances, and also touches on some of the technological advancements that help The Last of Us 2's cast come across as more human.
"Some other advancements we've had now [include]... we can make veins pop on their forehead if they're really angry, or we can redden their skin," he says. "[These] could be based on emotion, could be based on what's happening to them physically. How red their eyes can get is controllable, how tears flow off their eyes and their face is all new tech that we've developed for this game."
This goes beyond characters, too. Art director John Sweeney outlined how Naughty Dog researched and scanned environments and foliage in and around the Seattle areas where the game is set, from major buildings to individual bus stops. These weren't replicated perfectly, but rather used as a foundation to build the decrepit, overgrown environments you'd expect from a post-apocalyptic game.
We saw eight minutes of The Last of Us 2 gameplay just yesterday - here's a slice of what to expect from the sequel when it launches June 19.