Alright, now that the initial shock of the reveal is (kind of) over, PSX held a panel for The Last of Us Part II. The panel featured writer/director Neil Druckmann, Ashley Johnson (Ellie), and Troy Baker (Joel). One of the first details Druckmann opened up about was how far in the future the game is set. At the start of TLoU, Ellie was 14, now she’s 19. Most interesting perhaps is the reveal that she’ll be playable, instead of Joel — she’s the star this time around, even more so than last time.
Druckmann also touched on a bit of story information. If the last title was about Joel and Ellie building a loving bond, then Part II is on the opposite end. This story is about hate, as seen in the trailer by Ellie’s determination to kill every last one of who we’re assuming are Fireflies.
The topic of returning to the series was also broached, with Druckmann saying he’s aware there are fans who worried about a sequel. He asks fans of the first game to trust Naughty Dog and have faith saying, “we’re gonna do right by you.” With their unbelievable track record, it’s hard not to trust them.
Of course, the discussion then went to whether or not there was ever a consideration of introducing a new main cast. Druckmann said they “played with so many ideas” regarding new characters, but TLoU is about Ellie and Joel. When asked if the series could exist without those two, he answered: “They’re the heart of it. I can’t see it without them at its core… It’s about human relationships,” but theirs is the most important.
Interestingly, this trailer is internally old news. It was apparently shot roughly a year and a half ago. In fact, when Druckmann met with Johnson about the Left Behind DLC, which launched Valentine’s Day 2014, he also pitched her the story for TLoU Part II. There was debate about when the trailer should be revealed. Some thought it best to debut at E3 2017 with its larger audience, but PSX was the final choice, as it is a more intimate venue for fans.
The trailer concludes with the now beloved theme. According to Druckmann, it’s a rendition of the previous one. He was also able to confirm that Gustavo Santaolalla, Award Winning Brokeback Mountain composer, will return. This is apparently the first time Santaolalla has ever returned to a franchise.
In discussing music, Ashley Johnson confirmed that it is indeed her singing Through the Valley in the trailer. She admitted to being uncomfortable with the prospect of singing at first. However, as we can hear, it’s paid off wonderfully.
During the panel, a few pieces of concept art were also unveiled. Check them out below (via ThisGenGaming):
In regards to when fans can expect the game to launch, Druckmann said they’ll be “holding off on saying when it’s coming out for a while.” He laughed, noting that Naughty Dog has learned their lesson about speaking too soon. The Last of Us was originally delayed a month, a first for the studio’s 20 plus year history. The release of this year’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was met with two delays. It’s safe to say this announcement trailer is the last (sorry) we’ll see of The Last of Us Part II for a while.