You read that right: The Last of Us 2 is nearing the end of development and will be in our hands in 2020.
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 2 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 hearts 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 but it wasn't until September 2019 that we were finally told the game's release date during a State of Play livestream. Now we know for sure that we'll be joining Ellie on her next adventure in February 2020.
UPDATE: Neil Druckmann has teased that there are some parallels between The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part 2. 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? May 29, 2020
- What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
The Last of Us 2 trailers
The most recent trailer for The Last of Us 2 is also its release date announcement trailer. Shown during the September 2019 State of Play stream, it confirms the game will be coming on February 21 2020 and shows Ellie in action as well as a glimpse at Joel.
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. It's a different creature in many ways to the original The Last of Us but it looks like something to look forward to, with more advanced enemies to challenge us and more complex gameplay to thrill us.
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 Last of Us 2 came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game was 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
After hoping, praying and speculating we finally got confirmation during the September 2019 State of Play that The Last of Us 2 will be released on February 21 2020.
However, that changed when game director Neil Druckmann published an open letter to fans about a planned delay, saying the new launch date would be May 29 2020 instead.
What we know so far
Pointing out Parallels
Fans have been noticing some neat visual parallels between The Last of Us and The Last of Us 2. And Creative Director Neil Druckmann has been noticing this noticing. Picking up on a recent tweet comparing the beginning and end scenes from both games, Druckmann pointed out that these won't be the only parallels.
It's a teasing comment that's left many fans asking for more information and some are theorising that there could be narrative and visual parallels between the games. Regardless, those who enjoyed the original game are likely going to be happy to see any nod of acknowledgement which will tie the titles together in a more meaningful way.
New job listings
Naughty Dog has posted a mysterious job listing recently for an online systems programmer for a new online experience. While the listing doesn't detail which game the person will be working on, there are naturally some rumors milling around that it could be for an online experience related to The Last of Us 2, though there's an argument to be made for another Uncharted instalment.
A few months ago, Naughty Dog confirmed that The Last of Us 2 won't launch with an online mode due to a wish to completely focus on the game's substantial single-player story. However, it was added that something would be coming eventually and separately from the main game. We won't know for certain what game this online project is related to but it's exciting to see that something is in the works.
Halley Gross Interview
Narrative Lead and Co-Writer of The Last of Us 2, Halley Gross, has been talking to Official PlayStation Magazine (via Wccftech) about working at Naughty Dog and writing the character of Ellie.
In the interview, Gross praised her colleagues at Naughty Dog as "wizards" and said that they're working together to "make the most complex, nuanced character in a videogame". This character is undoubtedly Ellie who Gross touches on later in the interview.
Ellie, Gross explains, is a traumatised character on a "mission for justice" who is, overall, "driven by love" for other characters like Joel and Dina.
According to Gross, the narrative is about seeing who Ellie "can become when she grows up in such a hostile environment." This, unfortunately, means putting Ellie in difficult situations which will test her values and her drive: "while we love Ellie, and we’re really excited to see her grow up, we’re certainly not going to coddle her".
Neil Druckmann Interview
In an interview with the official PlayStation Blog, Neil Druckmann has been casting some light on what we can expect from The Last of Us Part 2 when it’s released in 2020.
Rather than throw in new enemies just because they can, Druckmann says that the studio has carefully considered new Infected additions like the Shamblers. These new enemies emit clouds of burning acid and will force players to consider how they approach combat in a different way, especially when they’re appearing alongside the fast Runners and powerful Clickers.
Human enemies are also more dynamic. According to Druckmann, every human enemy in the game will have a unique name so that when they die their comrades might scream out their name in grief. Human enemies can become emotional and unpredictable, making combat more dynamic and realistic.
Fans of visuals will also be happy to know that The Last of Us 2 will be making the most of the power of the PS4 like The Last of Us did with the PS3 before it. This means, according to Druckmann, that the game is “able to have much wider environments, sequences with a horde of infected, several squads of enemies looking for you in big spaces.”
Similarly, this has made it possible to give Ellie and all of the other characters a new animation system called motion mapping making their movements more responsive and more realistic:
“The fidelity we can get in the faces and the motion capture — we can better translate what the actors are doing on stage into the game, and get these nuances so we can rely more on the way someone blinks or the way they squint instead of lines of dialogue. It allows the writing to be much more nuanced than it’s been before.”
The Last of Us 2 is going to be an ambitious game. So ambitious that the adventure will be split across two discs. Following Sony’s State of Play livestream where the game’s release date was confirmed, it was confirmed in retail listings that Ellie’s adventure will be sold in two discs. At the very least you’ll be getting them together and not years apart.
There are few things more frustrating than a completely incompetent ally in a combat scenario when you're playing a game and, fortunately, it seems that won't be a concern with The Last of Us 2. In an interview with GameSpot, the game's co-director Anthony Newman said that the team took criticisms with regards to allies in the first game on board and are looking to rectify them in the sequel.
“In the past in almost all of our games, the allies have done kind of fake damage, where you see them shoot enemies and it's a little bit theatrical—like their bullets are clearly doing way less damage than yours,” Newman said.
For The Last of Us 2, however, ally bullet “do exactly as much damage as yours do" so players can count on the AI to help them.
September PlayStation Events and Multiplayer
The Last of Us fans finally got confirmation that The Last of Us 2 will launch on February 21 2020 during the September State of Play alongside a brand new trailer that features plenty of action and a look at Ellie and Joel.
Over the course of the event, it was also confirmed that The Last of Us 2 will not launch with a multiplayer element. In a tweet, Naughty Dog stated that its main focus for the game's launch is its single player which is "far and away the most ambitious project Naughty Dog has ever undertaken".
That doesn't mean, however, there will never be any online element to The Last of Us 2. The tweet goes on to clarify that at some point in the future an online element for the game will be launched when it's ready.
Any online element will be worth the wait, however, according to series co-creator Bruce Straley who left the studio in 2018. Taking to Twitter, Straley noted that the online multiplayer is "extremely ambitious" and that any delay is for "good reasons" and that fans are "in good hands".
Some brand new The Last of Us 2 footage was apparently shown behind closed doors during the recent GameStop managers conference in Nashville. The footage, which will be available to the wider world "soon", was short and showcased some of the game's stealth aspects, including how clickers can be used to your advantage.
When this "soon" that the footage will be released is isn't yet known but one opportunity for Sony and Naughty Dog to show some new footage would be during Paris Games Week in October if it doesn't drop even sooner.
More from Troy Baker
The teasing for The Last of Us 2 continues at Manchester Comic-Con. Troy Baker, voice of Joel, has once again been talking about the game and this time he’s said:
“There is nothing about this game, nor the reveals, that hasn’t been 100% carefully crafted and methodically curated. All I can tell you is that as much as you’re clamoring for it, you’re not ready.”
If that’s true then the careful curation possibly extends to Baker’s excellent hyping here. What that tells us is that we’re not going to hear anything about this game’s release date until Sony and Naughty Dog want us to and it could be a little while longer before we do.
Troy Baker shedding some light
Things have been a little quiet around The Last of Us Part II lately so Troy Baker, the voice of Joel, has caused some excitement merely by mentioning the game. During Manchester Comic-Con, Baker was asked what can be expected from the sequel and wasn't able to give away much. What he did say, however, was that "it's hands down the most ambitious game that Naughty Dog has ever done for sure. It's far larger than I thought was going to be possible." That's a pretty big statement to make and one guaranteed to leave fans salivating.
When it came to the release date, though, Baker wasn't able to make any announcements. Not because he didn't want to (though obviously and understandably he didn't) but because he and his fellow cast members don't know the release date just yet. "Last time we announced, we slipped," he explained, "And they don't want to do that again."
Rumors of a delay
There was much excitement on May 29 as a result of PlayStation exclusive Death Stranding finally getting its release date confirmed as November 8 2019. This has, however, had a ripple effect which is concerning fans of The Last of Us 2.
With Death Stranding now slotted in as PlayStation's big exclusive release for the holiday season of 2019, it's been rumored (by Kotaku's Jason Schreier among others) that The Last of Us 2, also originally said to be looking at a late 2019 release, will now be pushed into early 2020.
This has not been confirmed by Naughty Dog or PlayStation so it remains nothing more than rumor at the moment. It's also worth pointing out that The Last of Us 2 has never had a set-in-stone release date anyway.
However, an early 2020 release date for The Last of Us 2 does not seem impossible at this point as PlayStation having two such huge releases close together at the end of 2019 would be a surprise indeed.
A recent interview with Ellie actress, Ashley Johnson, has also added to those early 2020 rumors as, when asked by the interviewer when the game will release, she appears to begin to say February. However, nothing has been confirmed by Naughty Dog just yet so everything stands as rumor only at the the moment.
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.
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 rumors have suggested that we will see some kind of news around this time. Hopefully we’ll see a confirmed release date in the coming months.
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.
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.
E3 2018 brought us our first proper look at the gameplay in The Last of Us Part 2. Given Ellie is now the leading playable character, it was expected that things would be a little different from the first game and the presentation at the show made this fairly clear.
Ellie will have some moves similar to Joel but there are some things she'll be able to do that are completely different. For one thing she can jump – the new jump button should make the world of The Last of Us Part 2 more complex and more enjoyable to traverse. It also has the potential to make combat more interesting. Speaking of combat, Ellie doesn't really throw punches as her first form of attack, she has a stealthy knife. Melee combat generally appears to offer a little more than the original game, with evasions and an environment that can help as well as hinder your fighting.
Not only has Ellie matured as a character, the enemies she faces have developed and they're more realistic than ever. The Infected in The Last of Us Part 2 are smarter and more reactive than their predecessors, making them a tougher foe to face. AI has improved, allowing enemies to communicate with one another and to look for Ellie when she's hiding. Expect some tense moments to arise from this.
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