Naughty Dog is on its final lap before hitting the finish line and releasing The Last of Us Part 2. The studio made a brief pit stop to deliver a 20-minute showcase via PlayStation’s May 27 State of Play presentation.
The presentation gave us an in-depth look at The Last of Us Part 2’s gameplay. Primarily, it expanded on the narrative and minute-to-minute combat. Naughty Dog introduced the game’s new mechanics and enemies as well. We also got a look at a brand new extended piece of gameplay towards the end of the State of Play show.
One thing remained clear throughout, The Last of Us Part 2 is an ambitious and visceral piece of gaming.
Back on the open road
Naughty Dog Creative Director Neil Druckmann provided a curated look at The Last of Us Part 2’s story in the presentation. Picking up several years after the events of The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie find themselves living a peaceful life in the city of Jackson, Wyoming. After what is described as a “violent and traumatizing event”, Ellie journeys down a path in search of retribution.
In The Last of Us Part 2, Ellie travels across the country to new locations across multiple seasons. A large focus of the narrative finds Ellie in the dilapidated city of Seattle. The Last of Us Part 2 will feature some of the largest environments Naughty Dog has created. Therefore, travelling by horseback and by boat will be necessary during Ellie’s journey.
Given that it’s been over 20 years since the Cordyceps Brain Infection outbreak began, environments are broken down as wildlife has taken over. Utilizing the Naughty Dog engine, new traversal mechanics have been implemented. Ellie is now able to climb, swim, and use ropes to navigate the different elevations and environments.
New and deadly threats
Of course, the threats of the Clickers, Runners, Stalkers and other stages of Infected are introduced. We caught glimpses of a new variation known as Shamblers. Naughty Dogs also teased another enemy with a blood-curdling scream.
That being said, the Infected won’t necessarily be the most threatening force Ellie will be fighting.
In the sequel, Ellie finds herself in the middle of two warring factions fighting for territory and resources. The first is a militaristic group known as The Washington Liberation Front. Having gathered weapons from the now-defunct U.S. army, the WLF is an organized militia who has taken over Seattle as the quarantine zone fell.
The other faction, which is just as menacing if not more, is The Seraphites. This group is made up of religious zealots. They are more tribalistic, using stealth and silent weapons to dispatch their enemies.
Hunt or be hunted
As with the original, The Last of Us Part 2 encourages players to use stealth combat when encountering enemies. Skulking in the grass or going prone can hide Ellie’s position. Dogs can also track her down by following her scent. Being on the move and using consumables to create distractions will help in avoiding the enemy.
However, while stealth is a huge focus, it is not mandatory. If found, Ellie can run away and hide, or go in loud with her firearm drawn. She has a number of weapons at her disposal. Guns, a bow, a knife, and throwables are all available.
Crafting and upgrades will also be part of The Last of Us Part 2, allowing players to create their own playstyles. Much of the original’s UI and crafting menu remains, albeit in a cleaner state. A workbench system is implemented to upgrade weapons via scraps and other consumables found in the environment. Ellie can craft suppressors, throwables, and arrows to replenish her stock.
The combat seen on-screen exemplifies brutality and darkness. Through its savagery, Naughty Dog demonstrates how high the stakes are in this world where civilization has fallen. Although communities have been built, order and the feeling of hope still come in small doses.
Ellie’s animations while engaging with enemies feels full of raw emotion. Leaving off from the end of The Last of Us, Ellie appears to have adapted to the vicious world around her. In stark contrast to the lush and green environments, the game appears to be quite dark in tone.
Upping the ante
There’s always a certain level of detail and craft when it comes to a Naughty Dog game. The studio has continuously set the bar quite high when it comes to delivering emotional and memorable narratives. Many consider The Last of Us a masterpiece in gaming, especially for its storytelling.
The case is still open on whether or not Naughty Dog outdoes themselves this time around. However, given the studio’s repertoire, The Last of Us Part 2 is likely to be a success.
Ambition appears to be at the forefront of The Last of Us Part 2. Naughty Dog gave clean-cut examples of this throughout a mere 20-minute presentation. Although the studio has had its fair share of hurdles including a number of delays, and a tactless leak, the Naughty Dog team has persevered.
The Last of Us Part 2 will release on June 19 on PlayStation 4.