After nearly a year and a half of radio silence, Naughty Dog and Sony finally opened the floodgates, letting out a deluge of new information and footage for the upcoming The Last of Us Part 2. Over the past week, we’ve learned a great deal about the hotly anticipated sequel that we didn’t know before, and here in this feature, we’re going to talk about the eleven biggest and more interesting new details to have emerged. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
The one thing we’re all most excited about in The Last of Us Part 2 is its story, so it makes sense to start on that front. Part 2 is picking up five years after the first game, or twenty-five years after the cordyceps outbreak. Ellie, now 19 years old, is where we left he and Joel at the end of the game, in Jackson County, Tommy’s settlement, and things have settled down (to some extent) over five years. The game begins during winter time, as Ellie sets out with Dina, her close friend, for a routine supply run.
Things go wrong, with the two of them getting ambushed by an unknown group of people. A Bad Thing™ happens – which the new trailer wasn’t too subtle about – which leads to Ellie setting out on a quest for revenge against the new group. All the way back when The Last of Us Part 2 was first announced, the developers said that where the first game was a story about love, the second one is about hate, and it’s becoming clearer now. With Part 2, Naughty Dog is looking to follow Ellie’s journey into rage-fueled violence, and how far she would be willing to go to get revenge.
JOEL IS BACK
Since the day The Last of Us Part 2 was first revealed, one figure who’s been noticeably absent the entire time in all the trailers and footage we’ve seen of the game is Joel. Fans have been wondering when Naughty Dog would be showing what’s become of him, with many even theorizing that he had died, but with the new trailer, we finally got to see the man once again. He only came onto the screen for a handful of moments, right at the end of the trailer, but we can now safely say that Joel is back, and as per Naughty Dog, he’s very much going to be an important part of the game and its story.
The Last of Us might not technically be a stealth game, but stealth is still a huge part of its gameplay loop. It follows, then, that Naughty Dog would want to make improvements in that area with a sequel, and with The Last of Us Part 2, that’s exactly what they’ve done. Enemy AI, it seems, has received a big boost, while additional movement options for Ellie and larger, more vertical areas also means stealth is more dynamic.
So let’s go over each of those individual improvements one-by-one, starting with…
The Last of Us might be widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, but it did catch some flak from fans for a few things- most notably, its AI, which saw companion characters running around with reckless abandon even during tense stealth sections, and enemies somehow being completely oblivious to them even if they were right in front of their eyes.
With The Last of Us Part 2, it seems Naughty Dog have addressed those issues, with the developers claiming they’v completely overhauled the AI. Enemies now much harder to sneak up on, they communicate with each other a lot better and actually work together, while companion characters also follow the rules of stealth and try and remain hidden in the environment to avoid detection.
With The Last of Us Part 2 putting players in the shoes of Ellie as the main playable protagonist instead of Joel, the developers are also altering aspects of the gameplay accordingly. Ellie is a lot more nimble and mobile than Joel, and as such, during gameplay, has more movement options. She can slip through cracks in walls and the environment, while she also has a dedicated jump button, which also works nicely with the more vertical layout of levels.
Meanwhile, Ellie can now also go prone and crawl on the ground, under cars, and through tall grass, but even while she’s prone, she can turn around, aim, and shoot in any direction. And it’s not just with stealth that The Last of Us Part 2 gives players more movement options- there’s now also a dedicated dodge button which players can make use of during melee combat. There’s another additional wrinkle in combat- when Ellie gets shot with an arrow, her aiming and movement are affected, and she has to physically pull the arrow out of her. Finally, thanks to Ellie always being equipped with a switchblade, shivs are gone, as is their durability mechanic.
NEW ENEMY TYPES
The Last of Us Part 2 is also introducing some new enemy types, two of which were recently unveiled. The one that’s got everybody talking is dogs- this addition, it seems, is significantly going to shake up stealth. Certain human enemies will now have dogs with them, and these dogs can track Ellie’s scent, which means they’re always on you. Players can see the trail Ellie’s scent leaves behind in listen mode, and while you can distract dogs by throwing things like bottles and bricks, they still look like a formidable force, and will catch Ellie’s scent if she’s ever too close to them. Oh, and don’t worry- Naughty Dog assures us that we don’t have to kill dogs if we don’t want to. We can just sneak right past them, even though it’s going to be much harder to do that.
Meanwhile, we also got our first look at a new type of Infected. Called the Shambler, it’s like a cross between Clickers and Bloaters. Like Clickers, Shamblers are blind and track prey through echolocation, and with fungal growths all over their body acting as armour, they can take a lot of punishment before going down. They can also spray deadly clouds of spores whenever they’re hit, or when you’re close to them, or when they die.
The Last of Us Part 2 is going bigger than its predecessor in every way- even in literal terms. There’s going to be much bigger areas in the game than before, allowing greater room for exploration, but even in combat and stealth sections, the arenas Ellie finds herself in will be larger. And not only will they be larger, they will also be more vertical, allowing players to move about during stealth sections to allow for greater dynamism.
That said, you don’t have to be worried about The Last of Us going open world- open world settings are great, but they don’t work for every game, after all. According to Naughty Dog, The Last of Us Part 2 is one such game. So even though there’s going to be larger levels and less intense areas that will allow players more time and space to explore, the game is still very much going to be a scripted, guided, linear, and handcrafted experience.
SIZE AND SCOPE
Even though The Last of Us Part 2 isn’t an open world game, it’s still going to be massive. In fact, according to Naughty Dog, it’s the biggest game they’ve ever made, with the developers saying that in terms of size, scope, and ambition, it far outmatches anything else they’ve ever worked on. That means the game is also going to be a lot longer than you’d expect, while the developers have also given assurances that it isn’t going to be an unnecessarily padded out adventure, and that it will have the kind of pacing the first game did as well.
While Naughty Dog hasn’t given an approximation of how long the game is going to be, they have said that the three hours various media outlets got to recently go hands-on with and the demo we saw at E3 2018 together account for “a tiny fraction” of the game, and that there’s still a lot, lot more they haven’t shown us yet. We do know, however, that the game is so big, its physical release will be shipping on two Blu-Ray discs.
UPGRADES AND CUSTOMIZATION
Scavenging pills in the environment and using those pills to upgrade your character is still a thing in The Last of Us Part 2, but has been expanded upon quite significantly. Upgrading Ellie gives players more options, with their being dedicated skill trees, encompassing things like stealth, crafting capabilities, improving your health, combat abilities, and more. There’s even several dedicated options to upgrade your archery skills. You can even find training manuals, similar to the first game, and here, they can give Ellie access to new skills and abilities.
Weapon customization has also undergone some significant improvements. You’ll still be using parts you find in the world to customize and upgrade your weapons on workbenches, but here, too, you have a lot more options with things like range, recoil, and more. You can, in fact, even craft silencers for your weapons (which is an ability you unlock in the skill trees), which will help you out in stealth sections. Silencers are consumable though.
We’ve spoken about the size and scope of The Last of Us Part 2, but here’s something else to give you an idea about just how ambitious Naughty Dog says this game is. It’s so big, they decided to entirely cut out Factions, the multiplayer mode in the first game. As per Naughty Dog, while development on Part 2 was ongoing, their ambitions for both the single player and the multiplayer continued to grow, until they realized that they could not focus on both at the same time and fit them both in the same game together, leading to them cutting out multiplayer entirely.
That said, this doesn’t mean multiplayer is gone forever. Naughty Dog recently said in a statement on Twitter that though The Last of Us Part 2 won’t have multiplayer, we’ll still get to see the fruits of the labour of their multiplayer team and the work they did on Factions for the sequel before that got cut out. What form we will see that in or when we will see it isn’t something they’ve talked about yet, but we can probably expect to see a multiplayer-only The Last of Us game in the future.