Our hopes and dreams for Naughty Dog’s upcoming behemoth.
To say that The Last of Us Part 2 is a game that a great many people are looking forward to would be a massive, massive understatement. Because of course we’re looking forward to it- it’s probably one of the most highly anticipated games of this generation. It’s a sequel to one of the greatest games of all time, it’s being made by a studio that can seemingly do no wrong- how can anyone not be excited?
And of course, given that excitement, it goes without saying that all of us also have our own visions of what we want to see in The Last of Us Part 2- what we want it to do, what we want it to not do, what we want it to change or improve. In this feature, we’ll be talking about our own ideal version of The Last of Us Part 2.
Do note that there are a few spoilers ahead for The Last of Us and its DLC, Left Behind, so proceed at your own risk. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
The twenty year time skip right at the beginning of The Last of Us proved to be nothing short of genius, because a) we got to see all these characters as hardened survivors rather than people who’re scrambling to adjust to their harsh new realities (which is something we’ve seen more than enough of in post-apocalypse stories), and b) Naughty Dog ingeniously gave themselves the room to fill in that massive gap with so much backstory for these characters and the relationships they had with each other. It’s clear that The Last of Us Part 2 will delve into those backstories as well (especially since it’s taking place after another time skip of five years)- and we really hope that it’ll do so through flashbacks (at least partially). For instance, not only would seeing flashbacks of the early years of the apocalypse bring some variety to the proceedings in terms of tone, it would also help show how much these characters have gone through, and how that has changed them as people. There’s also the fact that flashbacks would be a great way to at least briefly bring back some characters who otherwise would not be able to return- like Tess, for instance. Or…
Riley may not have been a major fixture in The Last of Us’ base game, but as Left Behind would go on to show, she was still a crucial part of the game’s story. She’s an integral part of Ellie’s past and her development as a character, and even though she’s only on screen for a short time, she still has a place in the hearts of Last of Us fans. Which is why we’re hoping we’ll at least hear (and hopefully see) more of her in The Last of Us Part 2. The aforementioned flashbacks could be a great way to give her more screentime, but even if that doesn’t happen, Naughty Dog can get a lot of mileage out of drawing parallels between her and Dinah and the relationships they both share with Ellie.
Ellie’s mom was only ever briefly mentioned throughout The Last of Us, but there’s definitely a story to tell there if Naughty Dog wants to tell it. There are a lot of theories out there that suggest that she’s going to have a role to play in The Last of Us Part 2– and while we’re not quite sure how that would work (given that she’s dead and everything) we would love it if that were to happen. Even if she doesn’t show up and is actually dead (which she very well might be), we hope Naughty Dog give us some more backstory about her- not least because that’s something that would also have a significant impact on Ellie’s own arc.
Bill only stuck around in The Last of Us for an hour or so – a couple hours at most – but he sure left his mark on all of us. Written and portrayed as a strong personality that you wouldn’t forget, Bill is a character that a lot of Last of Us fans are really hoping to see more of in the future, so we can get to more about know him and his past with Joel (for example, just why did Bill owe Joel those huge favours?). We get that working him into The Last of Us Part 2’s story might prove tricky, since it seems like the game’s story is going to take Ellie even further west rather than back east, but let’s hope Naughty Dog can find a way to do so without it seeming forced.
Alright, enough of the story- let’s talk gameplay. More specifically, who we’re going to play as. Yes, Ellie is, of course, going to be the main playable protagonist, taking over from Joel, but do we really think we won’t get to play as Joel even for a little bit? We really, really don’t. Not only would there be a wonderful symmetry in getting a playable Joel section in the sequel the way we got one for Ellie in the first game, it would also be something that would please The Last of Us fans immensely. Maybe we could even play as Joel in one of those flashbacks we spoke of? Fingers crossed.
Combat in The Last of Us is always a messy affair, which is perfectly in line with the world Naughty Dog are portraying with these games. And while gunplay is a core part of that combat, melee combat is often just as important- which is why we’re hoping melee will see improvements in the upcoming sequel. It’s already been confirmed that there’s going to be a dedicated dodge button in The Last of Us Part 2, so we’re already quite confident that there will indeed be plenty of improvements. There’s also the fact that with Uncharted, Naughty Dog consistently improved the melee combat with each new game- hopefully The Last of Us will follow that same pattern.
This was one area where The Last of Us was passable at best and downright mundane at worst. More often than not, puzzles in the game boiled down to boring activities looking for planks, or pushing crates, or helping Ellie cross water bodies. If there’s one part of The Last of Us that’s in desperate need of improvements, this is it, and we’re hoping that Part 2 will provide those improvements. Puzzles need to be better designed, so that they actually require players to think, rather than being the bland affair they usually were in the first game.
GREATER FOCUS ON SURVIVAL
The Last of Us was at its best when it was pushing players up against the wall, bearing down on us with scant resources, scarce ammo, and dangerous enemies. Scrounging the environments to pick up scraps with which to make items was crucial, as was being judicious and effective with the little ammo that was available to us. With The Last of Us Part 2, Naughty Dog need to take that even further. Put an even greater emphasis on the survival mechanics, make scavenging an even more crucial part of the gameplay loop, make us feel like we’re constantly on the edge of horrifying failure- that’s what horror is all about, after all. And if Naughty Dog could do horror as well as they did in their first ever crack at it, imagine what they could do with a sequel.