In the last few days, Naughty Dog have spoken a lot about the “cycle of violence” acting as a driving force for The Last of Us Part 2’s story, and how that affects the gameplay as well. Major improvements are being made to work that goes on behind the scenes to make the combat feel more natural and much more lifelike, so that when you’re engaging in that violence and brutally killing all your enemies, it’ll make you feel uncomfortable the way the game wants you to feel.
And there’s a lot of ways the game’s going to do that. For example, big improvements are being made to the artificial intelligence to make enemies (and companions) more competitive and efficient, and to the game’s animations to make every movement seem lifelike and seamless, but then again, there’s also other details, like them having better communication with each other, or each of them having their own name, that lends them humanity. It’s the kind of attention to detail you can only expect from Naughty Dog.
Another similar detail? Every single character and enemy you see in the game has an actual heartbeat of their own. It’s not a gameplay mechanic in the game – for example, it’s not something that will affect your stamina or your aiming or anything like that – but it’s just there, for Ellie, for her companions, her human enemies, the dogs, hell, even the Infected.
“Just every facet of the game updated some new level,” co-director Anthony Newman explained while speaking with Polygon. “One of them is the audio where, I’m not sure if you noticed it, but as Ellie sprints around and then she settles, she’ll kind of [mimics heavy breathing] catch her breath.
“What’s happening behind the scenes is that [Ellie] has a heart rate that is oscillating up and down. It goes up when you sprint, it goes up when you melee, it goes up when you take damage, and goes up into the presence of enemies. And that modulates the bucket of breathing sounds that she’s able to use.”
“It’s been incredible because I found myself able to play cat and mouse with Clickers better than ever before because I can kind of understand them by the noises that they’re making,” Newman continued. “And the humans will do the same thing with breathing and sprinting and stuff.
“So not only do our human enemies have names, they have hearts!”
Again, that’s the sort of obsessive level of attention to detail Naughty Dog is going for – as is par for the course for them – with the upcoming sequel. They have said that this is their most ambitious game ever, and bigger and better in every aspect, and it’s stuff like that that lends credence to those statements.
The Last of Us Part 2 is out on February 21, 2020 for the PS4.