Like the original, The Last of Us Part 2 looks like it will feature some extreme violence, but its developers say that it’s not just a violent game but a game about violence and the effect that it has on people. Once scheduled for a February 2020 release, The Last of Us Part 2 is now slated to launch in May 2020.
It’s no surprise that The Last of Us Part 2 will be a violent game - it’s set in an apocalyptic wasteland teeming with infected zombies, after all - but the degree of violence was shocking when it was first revealed. A trailer for the game released in 2017 featured an extended scene of brutal violence against two women and was widely criticized in the media, with some commentators calling it out for relying on shock value and even missing the point of The Last of Us. More recent footage puts the game’s violence in more of a context but still doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of life in its world.
According to The Last of Us Part 2 co-writer Halley Gross, the violence in the game serves a greater purpose. In an interview with PlayStation Magazine U.K. - excerpted by RespawnFirst - Gross said that The Last of Us Part 2 is a story about “the cycle of violence” and “the effects systemic trauma can have on your soul.” Growing up in a hostile world has clearly had an effect on Ellie, who Gross has previously said she wants to be "the most complex, nuanced character in a video game.” That may be a tall order, but it would be in line with the first game. Even the voice actor who played Joel in the original The Last of Us says he considers the game’s protagonist to be more of a villain than a hero.
Of course, Ellie isn’t the only one affected by the cycle of violence in The Last of Us Part 2. Gross says the developers want players to empathize with other people in the setting, even if it’s easier just to see them as enemies. Naughty Dog is even giving hostile NPCs names to humanize them even further, leading to moments where NPCs will shout their friends’ names as they search for them after Ellie attacks them. Despite the violence surrounding Ellie, Gross says that she’s “driven by love” and that’s what motivates the sometimes unspeakable things she does to survive.
Naughty Dog isn’t making its job easy for The Last of Us Part 2. There was already plenty of controversy over how the original The Last of Us ended, and it looks like the developer is delving even further into moral ambiguity for its follow-up. However things turn out for Ellie, The Last of Us Part 2 is shaping up to be anything but a safe sequel.
The Last of Us Part 2 releases for PlayStation 4 on May 29, 2020.
Source: PlayStation Magazine U.K. [via RespawnFirst]