The Last of Us Part II, announced at PlayStation Experience 2016, is still early in development, but the long-awaited sequel was greeted with excitement and surprise alike when it was initially unveiled.
As we await for more information about The Last of Us Part II, we can only speculate about what the story will hold and how the game will play. But following the amazing game that was The Last of Us, this sequel will have big shoes to fill.
In order to maintain, or even surpass, the bar that was set by the original, TLoU Part II should avoid these five things.
Keeping TLoU Out of the Open World
Open world games have been a major part of many of the games released in the past few years. Games like the Far Cry 4, Final Fantasy XV, Horizon: Zero Dawn, as well as games in the Elder Scrolls series, have all brilliantly implemented open world settings. While this concept works really well for certain stories, this is one that will not work within TLoU universe.
Naughty Dog has been implementing larger areas in their campaigns in recent years, as seen in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. However, they have yet to create an open world game for this generation of consoles. While opening up areas of the map can be exciting and allow for more exploration, opening up the world itself creates a much different gameplay experience. A decision like this will not benefit the world of The Last of Us because the original game was a narrative driven story, first and foremost -- and many open world games struggle with that type of focus.
Assuming Naughty Dog continues to do what it does best, Part II will be a game that is mainly narrative driven. This type of game does best when the narrative can move along in a controlled environment, which an open world is not. The characters of TLoU are the most important pieces of the game and when characters inhabit an open world, it is easier to lose focus on their development.
The Last of Us Part II will do best if it is in a linear environment, just asThe Last of Us was.
The Last of Us Part II Shouldn't Just be About Ellie
The Last of Us Part II reveal trailer has been the center of focus for many fan theories. One such theory suggests that Joel, even though he appears in the trailer, is actually dead. While it has been confirmed that Ellie is the main playable character in Part II, this does not necessarily mean that Joel will not accompany Ellie on her journey this time around.
Since Joel was the character by which we experience the story of The Last of Us, it would be an incredibly harsh choice to kill him off for the sequel. The bond that was established during the original is what makes the game so striking and relatable to so many people. It would be a mistake for Naughty Dog to kill off one of the two main characters that came from the original.
The Last of Us Part II will be Ellie's story to tell and in an industry dominated by male main characters, Ellie has such an important place in this story. However, Joel is a huge part of TLoU universe as well. Naughty Dog should carry on the story of two characters that many fans have grown to love and are hoping to see in the sequel together.
Part II Shouldn't be an Explanation for the First Game
The Last of Us had an ending that polarized its audience. The ambiguity that followed the final scene left fans with questions and frustrations alike. But that is what makes the game a masterpiece.
The final scene was meant to leave the player wondering what was going to happen. Did Ellie really know the truth? Was her response an acceptance of Joel's lie or was it a genuine example of trust?
The Last of Us Part II should not be the answer to these questions.
Part II should not aim to be the final say on that final scene of TLoU. While we will certainly learn about the affect that moment had on Ellie and Joel simply because we are getting a new game with the same characters, Part II should not spend its time giving an explanation of Joel's reasoning or Ellie's understanding.
Players can learn about the fate of Ellie and Joel through the interaction they may have in the game. Naughty Dog would be wise to show how that moment changed or didn't change Joel and Ellie's relationship rather than telling the players forthright. Ultimately, the focus of the game should be about the new story not on what happened in the past.
Don't Rely on Choice-Based Mechanics
TLoU succeeded as much as it did because of its storyline. Narrative Director Neil Druckmann beautifully guided these two characters on an incredible journey that always went a particular direction that would always end with the fateful scene we all know today.
Changing the way in which we engage with the characters with a choice based system in The Last of Us Part II certainly would give the player more control over the story. However, within the universe of TLoU, a choice based system in which the choices we as players make alters which storyline we follow will not benefit the game itself.
The ending of the original game was so polarizing because there was no other option. The story always ended in the same exact way, no matter how many hours you put into the game or how many infected you did or did not kill. Each player gets the same experience in terms of the story. If The Last of Us Part II deviates from the single story track, it could create a disparate experience for their players and distract from the story they really want to tell.
Part II should allow players to fully explore and experience a well thought out story that knows what it wants to say and where it wants to take us.
It Shouldn't Have a Sad Ending
As we have seen from the reveal trailer and heard from Neil Druckmann, The Last of Us Part II is about hate and revenge. This narrative choice is in complete contrast to the original's story of a loving bond, and it leads us to believe a dark story is to be told.
While TLoU had a frustrating end, the course of the story was one of mutual love and respect growing between two unlikely people. Inversely, the story of Part II should end with a much more resolute and resolved plot thread. Since the game will likely take an even more somber tone than the first, a conclusion that doesn't leave the audience speculating -- and gives them a little hope -- will do the game justice.
Whether Part II is the end of TLoU series is, of course, still unknown. A resolved and, dare I say, happy ending will close the chapter on TLoU universe in a way that the first couldn't, and now we know why.
The success of this game will depend on how Naughty Dog handles returning to a game that is held so high by so many. But if their previous IP's are any indication, this game will successfully do the original justice.
There are many things that we can hope for in The Last of Us Part II. The return of Joel and Ellie is a reason to celebrate already, but with so few details confirmed to us now, we only have speculation and hopes.
In order to deliver another quality game and successfully implement this sequel, Naughty Dog should build on what they've already established. Sticking with a linear story line as well as a linear environment will let the audience spend quality time with the characters we are waiting to see again. And looking toward the future -- and not the past -- will let audiences get another glimpse into the amazing universe that Naughty Dog has created.
The Last of Us was a brilliant game that definitely deserves a sequel. Here's to hoping the sequel is just as good or even better than the original!
What are you hoping for in The Last of Us Part II? Let us know in the comments below.