The Last of Us 2 may be one of the most-anticipated games of 2018 / 2019 / who-knows-when (we still don't have a release window yet), but it surely won't be one of the most fun. That's not coming from me, by the way; that's the sentiment from creative director Neil Druckmann, who said in a recent interview with Buzzfeed that while developing the game, the team at Naughty Dog doesn't think in terms of fun.
"For us, with The Last of Us specifically (Uncharted is a little different in our creative approaches), we don’t use the word 'fun,'" Druckmann told Buzzfeed when asked if the team ever tries to make the combat less serious. "We say 'engaging,' and it might seem like a minor distinction, but it’s an important one for us."
"We believe that if we're invested in the character and the relationships they’re in and their goal, then we're gonna go along on their journey with them and maybe even commit acts that make us uncomfortable across our moral lines and maybe get us to ask questions about where we stand on righteousness and pursuing justice at ever-escalating costs."
His answer makes sense, and honestly, I'd be a little worried if Druckmann and his team did refer to TLOU2's gameplay as "fun". This is a game full of brutal violence, as we saw in the E3 gameplay demo:
And that pit you feel in your stomach when Ellie shoots a woman in the face, or drives a hammer into someone's skull? That's what Druckmann and his team want. It's supposed to be uncomfortable. "Our aesthetic approach to violence is to make it as grounded and real as possible, and we watch - sometimes uncomfortably - a lot of videos from the world, right? The world that we know, and trying to say, 'Okay, we don’t want to make it sexy. How do we make it real? How do we make it uncomfortable because art at times should be uncomfortable?'"
Engaging. Uncomfortable. I don't know about you, but these are the descriptors I want from The Last of Us 2. Anything but "fun".
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