After the success of the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog sought to stretch their capabilities with a third-person survival horror title that tested our sympathies and employed dynamic interactions like no other game before it. At the close of The Last of Us, with Joel and Ellie safely back together near Tommy's settlement, the sins of the story unfold with a dark brilliance.
Ellie is alive, though suffers from survivor's guilt, while Joel's lie, the reason Ellie remains breathing in the first place, is sinking into his spirit. The concluding few moments of the game gave players both a sense of clarity, as well as an open-ended interpretation of what may come next, allowing our imaginations to run wild. Naughty Dog's 2013 post-apocalyptic game was a narrative art piece that stressed survival in the face of deeply personal moral ambiguities. The Last of Us is heralded as one of the greatest games ever made, named Game of the Year for a plethora of awards, and is even among the best selling video games of all time (for a PlayStation exclusive, that's incredible). So, when The Last of Us Part II was unexpectedly revealed, naturally the industry lost its mind.
In 2016, at the PlayStation Experience event, fans were introduced to a whole new sequel that would give players control over Ellie, instead of Joel. The Last of Us Part II is among the most anticipated upcoming releases and was even nominated "Most Wanted Game" at the 2017 Golden Joystick Awards. Its clear fans are dying to get their hands on it, but when exactly is the game expected to be released? Rumors of a delay are swirling, causing fans to not only fear the worst but spread doubt, as well.
At E3 last year, Naughty Dog showed off a crisp gameplay trailer that really drove the anticipation home. The latest in-game footage highlighted how the developers are delving into this dark atmosphere, both in the external environment and on the inside of the character's mind. Troy Baker revealed some info at Manchester Comic-Con, stating:
"It's hands down the most ambitious game that Naughty Dog has ever done for sure. It's far larger than I thought was going to be possible."
Speculation is rampant when it comes to the actual release date. Some in the industry are saying the game will release this coming October, other insiders theorize it won't come out until February 2020. No one wants to compete with Kojima's mind-boggling title, Death Stranding, which launches in November, so it's safe to assume Naughty Dog will wait until next year, unfortunately. The dark uncertainty is definitely getting to the fans, who are as emotionally distraught as the very characters depicted in the game.
More To Come At GamesCom?
With GamesCom fast approaching, the possibility of more The Last of Us II news and content is stifling. Hopefully, we get an even more in-depth trailer, but all ears are perked up in anticipation for that fretful day when the game will finally be playable. Perhaps we will get a release date at GamesCom? So far, from a very distant observation, the production of the game is well underway and wrapping up. The story will involve opposing character relationships and revenge, as you might expect, what with the lie Joel told Ellie hanging over his head like a ticking time bomb. Creative director over at Naughty Dog, Neil Druckmann, had this to say on the nature of the game:
"With society broken down, how far would you go for justice? How much would it consume you? How much would it take away from your humanity? How much would it destroy your relationships? These are all interesting questions for us to explore."
Whether it's released this year or the next, on current-gen or next-gen consoles, is better than the first or merely falls flat on itself, all remains to be seen. Naughty Dog's track record for truly immersive, narrative-driven experiences has made them unrivaled in the gaming industry. Our expectations are high, and anticipation rises every single day it's not released. Fans really don't want to wait for the game to come out next year, but it looks like they will have to. If there's anything The Last of Us taught me, it's not simply patience, it's sound judgment in the face of emotional conflict. If you follow your heart, you will survive. Riley says it best:
"There are a million ways we should've died before today. And a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight...for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether it's two minutes or two days...we don't give that up."
So keep fighting, The Last of Us II will be playable in no time.