As endings go, The Last of Us’s was pretty conclusive. But as it turns out, that hasn’t stopped The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog from cranking out a sequel in the form of The Last of Us 2 – or, The Last of Us Part II if we’re using its proper name.
Given the first game was hailed by players and critics alike as a masterpiece with excellent, emotional storytelling and engaging, realistic characters, we have to admit that the decision to release a follow-up isn’t particularly shocking. We’d probably have been more surprised if there wasn’t one. And yet, when The Last of Us 2 was first announced, we’d be lying if we said our heart didn’t skip a beat.
The Last of Us 2 was first announced by Naughty Dog at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer and as we’re now into 2019, we’re now hoping to hear an official release date any day now.
Although we got a closer look at the game, Sony didn’t give us any hints during E3 2018 when we’d see the game, but it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see what becomes of Ellie in the brutal post-cure world.
[Update: The Last of Us 2 is entering the final stages of development. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
- When can I play it? It’ll be a while from now, late 2019 or early 2020
- What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
The Last of Us 2 trailers
The most recent trailer we have for The Last of Us 2 was shown during E3 2018. This trailer finally gives us a look at Ellie in an intimate scene before cutting away to some of the brutal but stealth-based combat we can expect to see in the game when it’s launched.
The gameplay sequence gives us a look at Ellie fighting for her life in the wild. Success in a fight appears to require the right balance between stealth and all out attack as damage seems to have a more realistic impact. Ellie can move quietly between areas, taking weapons from bodies and crafting, before bursting out and taking down her enemies.
See the gameplay for yourself below.
The Last of Us Part 2 had another trailer drop during PSX 2017. During a panel it was confirmed that the game will be set in the city of Seattle and the darker themes we know are coming were touched upon. You can watch the panel for yourself below:
Another trailer for the game was shown at Sony’s press conference during the 2017 Paris Games Week. This trailer is around 5 minutes long, focusing on conflicts between the human factions in the game. It shows part 2 is going to have a dark story, perhaps even darker than the first, and the trailer is fairly harrowing to watch.
Visually impressive though it is, do note that it’s gory before you watch it for yourself below.
The first look at the game came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game is early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:
The Last of Us 2 release date
The Last of Us 2 has been in the works for a while but we’re still waiting for a definite release date. Considering Naughty Dog has seen the bad side of promising a solid release date and missing it before it’s hard to blame them for not committing at this stage.
In a recent interview with Vorterix, the game’s composer, Gustavo Santaolalla, said that it’s going to launch in 2019. Naturally, this hasn’t been confirmed so we’d take it with a pinch of salt. However, it doesn’t seem all that implausible as a release window given that in-game footage was only shown as recently as Paris Games Week.
What we know so far
Into the final stages
News around the Last of Us 2 has been hotting up recently as the game inches closer towards completion. Naughty Dog has now confirmed that the final scene for the game has been shot and the game’s co-director, Anthony Newman, has tweeted out a recruitment call as the studio begins to “close out” the game’s development.
Lot of awesome positions open to help us close out this game… I especially want to highlight the Melee Animator position, I guarantee you will be working on some *dope* animations working with my good friend @Leethul 🗡️💀 pic.twitter.com/vmlVkJlfTl10 May 2019
As promising as these announcements are, they don’t reveal anything about whether or not we can expect to see The Last of Us 2 this year or next. Regardless, development has reached a critical stage and though Sony won’t be attending E3 2019, that doesn’t mean it can’t make some announcements around the time of the show. In fact, recent rumours have suggested that we will see some kind of news. Hopefully we’ll see a confirmed release date in the coming months.
We could see more before E3 2019
Sony isn’t coming to E3 2019 but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be making announcements around that time and a big update for The Last of Us Part 2 could be imminent. Hopes have been raised by an industry insider on a Resetera thread which discusses a potential release date for the game. User Aokiji, who has made some accurate leaks before, said “Considering we’re getting an official TLOU2 update before E3, would be really weird if it wasn’t 2019 now wouldn’t it .”
Now, any news that doesn’t come from Naughty Dog or Sony itself should, of course, be taken with a pinch of salt. However, the time feels ripe for an update on the progress of the game. With E3 2019 only just over a month away, we don’t have long to wait to find out.
Definitely coming to E3 2018
Sony has confirmed the time and date of its E3 conference as June 11 at 6pm PT/ 9am BST. And Sony Worldwide Studios boss, Shawn Layden, has confirmed during a PlayStation Blogcast that the Last of Us 2 will feature. Layden said that Sony has decided to “refresh and remake its show” and that fans can expect to see “deep dives”, gaining a better understanding of where Naughty Dog is and plans to go with the title.
Mocap is underway
Things have been quiet on the official news front for The Last of Us 2 but we’ve been glad to see some studio insiders and actors from the game posting images on social media which show that the game’s motion capture is well underway. Actors Ashley Johnson and Shannon Woodward have both posted images of themselves wearing mocap suits. They didn’t give much away but the fact that Naughty Dog is this far into the motion capture process suggests we might at least be closer to hearing about a possible release date.
Troy Baker is impressed
The Last of Us 2 is still in the works, but we now know that one of its lead voice actors, Troy Baker, has had an in-depth look and he thinks the game is ‘awesome’. It’s not clear whether Baker just saw some gameplay or had the chance to go hands-on himself but according to GameRant he said during MCM Comic Con at Birmingham “It’s a fantastic story. It’s a fantastic game. We just finished a playtest. It’s looking awesome. I can’t for it to be on shelves.” Though we can’t be sure where exactly in the development process it is (during PSX, it was said that Naughty Dog had reached around the 50 to 60% mark) this playtest is an encouraging sign.
With Neil Druckmann having been promoted to Vice President of Naughty Dog, The Last of Us 2 now has two confirmed directors. Druckmann will, of course, still be heavily involved in the creation of the game but it’s now being headed up by Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, both of whom were lead designers on Uncharted 4.
Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go.
At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place in the city of Seattle, five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence.
This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about…something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly.
She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game’s well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride.
As Joel is such a passive presence in the trailer there’s been speculation that he’s actually dead, appearing in Ellie’s mind’s eye, and Ellie’s anger and vengeance will be directed at those who caused his death. This isn’t entirely unlikely but it’s purely speculation at this point. It is worth pointing out, however, that Neil Druckmann did reveal in an interview with PlayStation Lifestyle that this announcement trailer footage is not a scene that will actually take place in the real game.
In the trailer for the game shown at Paris Games Week in 2017, we got a look at how dark the game is likely to be. The trailer focuses on the opposing relationships between human characters in the game and features some seriously cringe-inducing violence.
It doesn’t tell us much about any new characters of how they’ll relate to one another but it does confirm that we’re going into a dark game world in The Last of Us part 2.
In a recent panel at PSX both Druckmann and Gross said that though the game’s story will indeed be dark and there’ll be a focus on the theme of hate, “there is hope” and there will be “lighthearted moments.”
We can’t pretend we’re not relieved to hear this after the game’s controversial Paris Games Week trailer which, Druckmann said, was intended to highlight the game’s exploration of the pursuit of justice.
Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage.
The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger.
When asked at a PSX panel whether or not Joel or Ellie may die, Druckmann responded that “no one is safe” highlighting that the game’s story really could go anywhere.
Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game’s story.
Not much is being said about gameplay at the moment. Neil Druckmann said at a PSX Panel that there would, however, be some differences as a result of Ellie being the playable character rather than Joel.
“Ellie plays differently than Joel […] Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.”
It’s hard to glean much from this, but if Naughty Dog take the approach that’s frequently taken with playable female characters, Ellie will probably be more swift on her feet than Joel was but perhaps less able to take damage.
This won’t be the first time we’ve had the chance to play as Ellie, after the first game put us in her shoes for a short mission, but here the purpose of the mission was to make her feel weak in comparison to Joel. We can only hope her abilities will be expanded for the sequel. In the Paris Games Week trailer she certainly looks far physically stronger than she did in the first game.
We expect to see much more in terms of gameplay from E3 2018 after Druckmann stated in the PSX panel that more details for the game would emerge at that event.
What we’d like to see from The Last of Us 2
A new setting
Given that time has moved on 5 years from the end of the first game, it’d be nice to see Joel and Ellie in a new location too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be far from the setting of the first game but considering we have the two lead characters and their relationship to keep us tied to the first game, it’d be nice to play in a new location to keep things feeling fresh and make the introduction of new characters feel more plausible.
Druckmann has said that this game’s story will be larger than the story of the first game and we imagine this necessitates a slightly more expansive setting.
More frightening enemies
The infected in the first game are terrifying and threatening and we want to see more of that. Things don’t have to change too much but new classes of enemy, new character designs and new ways to defeat them would be excellent.
Considering we’ll be playing as Ellie now rather than Joel we imagine players will have to learn to take a different approach to combat anyway as it’s been said she’ll play differently.
It’d also be great to see more human enemies as well as the infected. We saw more than a few morally grey factions make an appearance in the first game so to expand on this and maybe introduce some more elements would be interesting.
The exploration of the morality of humanity in post-apocalyptic scenes is always interesting, particularly considering in games you’re interacting with it directly and feeling its impact more strongly than in most mediums.
The Last of Us 2 has the chance to make a real emotional impact through the human areas it presents us with.
The return of multiplayer
Multiplayer in The Last of Us was surprisingly good so we wouldn’t be averse to seeing it return here. If the game’s main story is going to be as heavy as we expect, it’d certainly be nice to have the option to break free for a while without leaving the game world and connect with others online.
(Image credits: Naughty Dog)