Over the last decade, Naughty Dog have made a name for themselves as masters of crafting scripted, linear experiences, but recently, their games have experimented with more open-ended design. Though far from open world, both Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and – to a much greater extent – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had huge, open areas where players were given the freedom to explore and tackle optional objectives at their leisure.
The upcoming The Last of Us Part 2 is not going to be an open world game – and Naughty Dog have given very good reasons for why that is the case – but the game will once again experiment with more open-ended areas. While speaking with the official PlayStation blog, creative director Neil Druckmann explained that when Naughty Dog wants the tension to drop and allow players to catch their breath and have more exploration-focused gameplay, the game will allow for that.
“As you saw with Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy, we’re experimenting with much larger layouts,” Druckmann said. “We’re going to do that with this game, and find ways to use that to mirror the story. When we want tension to drop, and we want you to think ‘What do I do next? What do I want to explore here?’ We have that.”
Naughty Dog have said that this is the biggest game they’ve ever created – about 50 per cent larger than the first game – so this definitely falls in line with that. And given how gruellingly intense and relentless this game looks like it’s going to be, the occasional tension-free (relatively) and exploration-heavy sections will come as a welcome reprieve.
The Last of Us Part 2 releases exclusively for the PS4 on February 21, 2020.