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What We Want To See in THE LAST OF US: PART II

What We Want To See in THE LAST OF US: PART II

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for The Last of Us. Read with caution if you haven’t played the game yet.

Over the weekend, Naughty Dog bookended the PlayStation Experience with two massive game announcements we weren’t expecting: the Chloe-centered standalone title, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and The Last of Us: Part II. Following the press conference, the community had different reactions to the news. While most were excited for Chloe’s well-earned return to the Uncharted franchise, fan response to The Last of Us sequel news was more polarized. On one hand, a lot of people are excited to see Naughty Dog bring Joel (voiced by Troy Baker) and Ellie (voiced by Ashley Johnson) back for another adventure; on the other, fans are skeptical of Naughty Dog’s decision to continue with the same characters.

I fall somewhere in between and have a ton of ideas of where the developer could take things to make the sequel interesting and worth the direct-sequel risk. Before we dig in, let me catch you up with where the first game ended. In the final few cut scenes of the The Last of Us, Joel saved Ellie from the Fireflies, and stopped her from sacrificing herself for the cure in the process. On his way out, with Ellie unconscious in his arms, Joel encountered Marlene who tried to convince him to do the right thing and hand Ellie over to save humanity. Instead of complying, Joel selfishly shot her and took Ellie with him. Later when Ellie woke up, Joel explained that the Fireflies no longer needed her for the cure. When she asked Joel whether he was telling the truth, he lied to her face and she accepted it and showed ALL of the disappointment in her face (see image below).


With that background out of the way, let’s dig in:

Dealing with the lie

The most important thing Naughty Dog needs to address is that final lie. Towards the end of The Last of Us, Ellie was prepared to give up her life if it meant it would end the Cordyceps epidemic. By rescuing her from the Fireflies, Joel took that away from both Ellie and the rest of humanity. Judging by the look in her eyes, and what the developers have said post-launch, Ellie knows Joel lied to her, but accepted it because of the father/daughter bond they formed.

My hope is that this tension is addressed early on in the game, and comes to a head at some point. The only question is, how long will Ellie continue to accept Joel’s lie? Will it push her away from Joel, Tommy, and the settlement? Whatever it does, the issue needs to be present, and wedged, if ever so slightly, between the pair.


Fly with the Fireflies

Considering the circumstances of the lie, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Ellie turned to the Fireflies at some point, or at least sought them out. During the short trailer, we see a stop sign brandishing their symbol. Was Ellie in Firefly territory? Did they turn on her to get the cure from her? Or did they do something else to get back at her and Joel for depriving them at the end of the first game.

In any case, I am interested in learning more about the Fireflies. The first game did such a great job of blurring the lines of good and evil. I would like to see a prominent Firefly character step into the light in the sequel and extend a hand to the settlement. Their intentions after all are to save humanity. Maybe there is a place to meet in the middle? Of course, as I theorized above, the union probably won’t end well. It would also be interesting to see a playable section from one of their members, and more details on their origins, how they operate, and what they’re planning.


Death in the family

Since the trailer debuted, one of the most interesting theories I’ve seen floating around is that Joel is going to be killed off, and that was actually his ghost speaking with Ellie. Unless Ellie gets attached to another character (which is entirely possible), the only thing I see pushing her towards that level of vengeance is the death of her fatherly companion. As Ellie pointed on in the heated Ranch scene in the first game, she’s lost everyone she’s ever cared for, except for Joel. The thought of him leaving her with his brother Tommy cut deep and pushed her to run away. How far over the edge would losing him push her?

I mainly want to see this one because I want Naughty Dog to take a risk. They played it too safe in Uncharted 4. I know this is going to sound dark, but they had the perfect opportunity to kill Nathan’s brother Sam, but instead kept him and the rest of the group alive until the very end. Everyone lived happily ever after, which felt like a weird end to the franchise. With The Last of Us being much grittier, I hope they take the leap, especially when you consider their original statements that they wanted The Last of Us to be only one game, or that if they were to continue, it would be in the same world with different characters.


Losing her mind alone.

During the official PSX panel for The Last of Us: Part II, Neil Druckmann revealed that the sequel will shove Ellie into the spotlight as the main playable protagonist. It’s hard to tell exactly how old she is from the trailer, but it’s clear she’s much older and wiser than she was in the first game. If she does lose Joel, this decision would make sense, and would play into the possibility that he’s haunting her. Many think the developer will pull a sixth sense and reveal later on that he’s actually been dead all this time. I doubt they’d go that route, but there is a reason she’s alone.

While it would be nice to see Joel, Tommy, or another companion by her side, I want to see Ellie tackle the world on her own for a while. She’s an interesting character, so it would be fascinating to watch her grow from the experience. She’s out for vengeance and Joel questions her decision to take every last of one of “them” out. So if he doesn’t end up dying, maybe he lets her forge her own path without him.

That’s just a few of the things I would like to see in The Last of Us: Part II. Of course, it’s too early to tell now. Keep it posted here for future updates about the game.

What do you hope happens in The Last of Us: Part II? Let us know in the comments, join the conversation on Facebook, or start one with me on Twitter: @Samantha_Sofka!

Images: Sony, Naughty Dog

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