The 2018 E3 show has come and gone, leaving a mess of game trailers, release dates, and spoiled surprises (thanks, Canadian Walmart). Each of the big publishers (with the exception Nintendo) opted to host their own press briefings as opposed to maintaining a significant physical presence on the E3 show floor. Sony decided to focus on a core of four big games for their 2018 show. Unarguably, the biggest jewel in the company’s crown is The Last of Us 2. Sony made the Naughty Dog-developed joint the show opener and it dazzled the live crowd and those streaming at home with its state-of-the-art visuals and animations. Neil Druckmann, the game’s director, and Halley Gross, the game’s co-writer, sat down with Buzzfeed recently to talk about the development team’s approach to crafting the narrative and world of The Last of Us 2.
Druckmann dove into what makes The Last of Us different from the ocean of post-apocalyptic games that continually flood the video game market, explaining, “What we do different at Naughty Dog is I think we have a radically different approach than most studios, and that is that we’re very character driven. What makes us unique is everything we do from gameplay to art to story is ultimately in service of a message; there’s something we’re trying to say. And second to that is that we say that thing with honest, well-told, strong characters.”
Those who got the opportunity to view the E3 gameplay trailer for The Last of Us 2 surely noticed the extreme level of graphic violence depicted. While blood and gore is commonly seen in lots of video games, the display from the E3 trailer felt different. When asked if the team ever wants the violence to feel “fun” or if violent moments are built into the game solely in service of enhancing the gameplay, Druckmann replied, “We don’t use the word ‘fun.’ We say ‘engaging,’ and it might seem like a minor distinction, but it’s an important one for us, which is, we believe that if we're invested in the character and the relationships they’re in and their goal, then we're gonna go along on their journey with them and maybe even commit acts that make us uncomfortable across our moral lines and maybe get us to ask questions about where we stand on righteousness and pursuing justice at...ever-escalating costs.”
When the pair from Naughty Dog were asked about Sony's Santa Monica Studio and the success of God of War and its novel implementation of Atreus as a NPC, Druckmann replied that they were friendly with the team, sharing tech and information relating to the creative process. He said that Naughty Dog welcomed the competition and hoped to one-up the God of War team by every measure.”You can tell Cory [Barlog, game director for God of War] that,” joked Druckmann.
The Last of Us 2 will be releasing for the PS4 and PS4 Pro. At this time, there is no concrete information about when the game will be available, but the current best guess is by the end of 2019.