The Last of Us Part 2’s main draw is, of course, going to be its narrative and the way it portrays its characters, but the game is making noticeable improvements in other areas as well. This is supposed to be Naughty Dog’s most ambitious game ever, and that’s showing in more ways than one, whether that’s improved animations, better enemy AI, more competent companion AI, or just a larger scope in general.
One more area where The Last of Us Part 2’s gameplay in particular is seeing noticeable improvements is its upgrade mechanics. According to co-director Anthony Newman, the sequel’s progression mechanics offer a lot more choices and much better options in terms of how you want to upgrade Ellie as compared to what the first game offered, where upgrades were, more often than not, cursory stat boosts for Joel. Speaking with GameSpot, Newman said that these upgrades can have “drastic effects on the way that you played a game.”
“There was so much we really wanted to explore in terms of player strategy,” he said. “We really wanted to try and double-down on allowing players to express themselves strategically and find their own way to play the game. And so something I’m really thrilled about is the new player upgrade system where rather than having upgrades that are just minor stat booths to different things, we really wanted to have upgrades that potentially unlocked entirely new abilities or just had drastic effects on the way that you played a game.”
Newman went on to give examples that will give players completely new abilities, which will open up new options for how to tackle different situations.
“One totally new ability you can get is holding your breath while aiming to steady your aim,” he said. “It doesn’t come by default but you can learn it over time. There are entire crafting recipes, like the silencer for the pistol, that you can only learn via the player upgrade system. Or some really extreme upgrades where you can craft two of an item for the same resources. You can craft two trap mines or two smoke bombs for the same resources.”
Combined together, all these options mean much more build diversity in terms of how players progress Ellie as they see fit than the first game. “You can find these synergies between playstyle, a set of weapon upgrades that you get at the workbench, a set of player upgrades that all create this confluence of a unique version of the game for yourself,” Newman finished.
The Last of Us Part 2 is out exclusively for the PS4 on February 21, 2020.