Neil Druckmann speaks in detail about the new Shamblers, the returning Stalkers, and more.
With The Last of Us Part 2, Naughty Dog are doing what any developer should with a sequel, and attempting to improve upon the first game in every way possible. That doesn’t just apply to a more intense narrative experience– improvements are being made to several aspects of the gameplay as well. One of the ways The Last of Us Part 2 is doing that is by introducing several new enemy types. One of these – the new Infected called Shamblers – has already been revealed, and with its thick fungal outgrowths acting like armour and its ability to dispel noxious gases, it definitely looks like a threat to be on the lookout for.
Speaking recently with IGN, creative director Neil Druckmann spoke about that a little bit more, talking about the philosophy behind the Shamblers’ design, as well as the new ways The Last of Us Part 2 uses returning Infected type to make them an even bigger threat than they were in the first game.
Speaking about the Shambler, Druckmann explained that its strengths as an enemy type is that it forces the player to stay on the move, and makes combat situations even more tense when there are several other Infected to contend with at the same time as well.
“One [reason for the Shambler] is it gets you to move, and the corrosive damage is [useful] when we don’t want you to just stand still, we want the fights to feel dynamic,” Druckmann said. “And, two, like any good horror [enemy], it limits your senses, it blocks your vision. So while the mechanic on its own might seem simple on paper, it’s when you start combining it with all the other infected that can be coupled with the Shambler, it becomes really interesting. You have this situation where it bursts and you have this cloud you’re trying to run away from and you don’t quite see where the Shambler is. Now you have a Runner running through that cloud emerging from it; now the Runners become more dangerous.”
But it’s not just the new enemy types that are more threatening- older Infected types returning in the sequel pose more danger as well. For instance, there’s the Stalker, which Druckmann says wasn’t really utilized that well in the first game, but will become a formidable enemy in the sequel.
“With the first game we introduced the Stalkers, [but] we didn’t really get a chance to develop them and develop different setups with them,” he said. “We can really play to the horror of the infected and instead of just charging at you, they will actually run away from you and hide, and look for opportunities to surprise and lunge at you. Then they’ll attack as a pack, which creates a different kind of tension. You know they’re around, they’re actually more quiet, so listen mode doesn’t always reveal where they are.”
Additionally, Clickers have also been buffed up. Since Ellie – unlike Joel in the first game – can dodge incoming attacks, Clickers had to be made faster and more nimble in the sequel to compensate for that. Meanwhile, thanks to the additional power afforded by the PS4, Naughty Dog can also throw many more Infected at the player at the same time than they could before.
“Because we introduced dodge and now you can dodge Clickers in a way you couldn’t in the first game, now with Clickers, we have to find ways to make them more dangerous,” Druckmann said. “Because when they charge at you, with Joel, he’d die; Ellie can dodge out of the way. So now Clickers are faster and more nimble as well to compensate for all the new mechanics that Ellie has. Likewise because of the tech of the PS4, we can have more infected onscreen. There are scenarios where you could have a whole hoard of Runners chasing you and, when the number is larger, Runners become more dangerous.”
As Druckmann explained during the recent The Last of Us Part 2 gameplay deep dive, there are more new enemy types in the game that haven’t been revealed, so it should be interesting to see what they are and how the affect the dynamics of stealth and combat.
The Last of Us Part 2 is out for the PS4 on June 19.