People were excited when US video game company Naughty Dog said more information about The Last of Us Part II would be coming at Sony’s State of Play, a mini-event showcasing the latest from Sony’s first party studios.
Well, much to the joy of fans Naughty Dog finally revealed the release date for its eagerly anticipated zombie post-apocalyptic adventure. The Last of Us Part II will be hitting shelves on February 21, 2020, and like its 2013 predecessor will be a PlayStation exclusive, which will initially be released only for Sony’s PS4 console. It makes sense, though, that at some point Naughty Dog will put out a PS5 edition of The Last of Us Part II, taking into account the very likely release of PlayStation 5 sometime next year.
The US game developer had previously said this sequel to The Last of Us will be quite a bit different to their classy 2013 zombie game. Specifically, the tone of Part II will be darker, with lead writer and creative director Neil Druckmann admitting that fans of the first game might not like what’s coming in the sequel. This is because while the first game’s theme was love, Part II will be about hate – and viewing the trailer which Naughty Dog put out during the Paris Games Week back in 2017, it’s clear that protagonist Ellie will be going through a rough ride in this Last of Us sequel.
But while Naughty Dog’s approach to the sequel might put off some players, the fact that this will still be a mostly linear, story-focused game is something that will likely be welcomed by the legion of Last of Us fans out there. And it’s a good thing that Naughty Dog has resisted the temptation to turn The Last of Us into an open world game like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series – the fact this won’t be bothering players will a million side distractions like the typical open world game does will help keep people on the edge of their seats throughout the game, as Neil Druckmann told IGN.
“Unlike an open world game that is usually open all the time, that [type of] game doesn’t work for us for The Last of Us because that loses tension. If I need to go rescue someone, and [the game] says ‘OK go rescue them right now…or do these 10 other things on the side,’ you lose tension”, said Druckmann.
But although this will be more focused than the typical open world game released these days, don’t expect this to be smaller than other Naughty Dog games like the first Last of Us or the more recent Uncharted 4. Actually, according to Druckmann The Last of Us Part II is “the biggest game” Naughty Dog has made to date.
“The story we laid out four years ago is really complex, has a large cast of characters. The core of it is simple, but where it goes and the twist and turns are complex”, said Naughty Dog’s creative director. “We needed more time for cinematics, we needed more locations, we needed more types of enemies. So the scope of it kept growing”, added Druckmann.
Of course, aside from Naughty Dog sticking to its guns and delivering a story-focused game like the first Last of Us, a big change in this sequel is the change of protagonist. You see, instead of playing as grizzled veteran Joel, you will take control of Ellie here, who has transitioned from being the scared little girl she was in the first game to a fearsome predator who can slice and dice her enemies with bows, knives and guns.
This doesn’t mean Joel will be missing from this Last of Us sequel though: the trailer above shows gruffy Joel is still alive and kicking. And even though you might think he’s only got a minor role to play in this sequel, it’s actually the opposite as Neil Druckmann told IGN.
“So much of The Last of Us is about this duo and their dynamic and how they are together, how they play together. I will say Joel plays a major part of this game”, said the Naughty Dog man.
Also interesting is the fact that Ellie will be able to jump in this sequel, a new use of verticality which will add new gameplay possibilities to the game, especially where stealth is concerned.
“Now we can create verticality, Ellie can get to heights, get to second floors…a lot of it is about evading enemies by moving around them, on top of them, sometimes going into basements below them”, said Druckmann.
Taking into account all we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that Naughty Dog’s upcoming game has the potential to be one of next year’s top sellers. This is surely a game that could convince anyone who hasn’t yet got hold of a PS4 to do so before it hits shelves, as The Last of Us Part II is looking like it could be game of the year material when it ships early next year.
Note: The Last of Us Part II will be released on February 21, 2020. Available on PS4.