Fast facts

  • The Last Of Us Part 2 release date: TBC
  • Formats: PS4, PS4 Pro
  • Developer: Naughty Dog

The Last Of Us part 2 takes place years after the original, and is all about hate

It’s happening. Despite having one of the most complete, cathartic endings in PlayStation history, Joel and Ellie’s delightful doomsday stealth shooter is getting a sequel with The Last Of Us Part 2. The headline news? It’s set five years after the first game, and now it’s Ellie, not Joel, who stars as the playable character.

Other than that, story details are pretty sketchy at the moment. We know Ellie is seriously angry, we know she wants revenge, and it looks like Joel is back for the ride… even if he is a strangely passive presence in the first Last Of Us 2 trailer. With most of the first game’s key players returning, both Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson reprise their roles as Joel and Ellie, and Neil Druckmann once again acting as creative director, the stage is set for Naughty Dog to deliver one hell of sequel. Oh, and Ellie totally has a badass tattoo now. That’s one cool way to hide your zombie bites…

The Last Of Us 2 story is set five years after the original

In terms of hard facts we have on The Last Of Us Part 2, this is the biggie. Set half a decade on from the events of the original game, the sequel to Naughty Dog’s masterful apocalyptic adventure stars a now 19-year-old Ellie. And if The Last Of Us 2 trailer that debuted at Sony’s PlayStation Experience earlier in December is any indication, she is PISSED. 

“If the theme of the first game was about the love between these two characters… then this story is the counter to that: it’s about hate,” says Neil Druckmann, the creative director on The Last Of Us 2 speaking at a special PSX panel. No kidding. We didn’t think Ellie’s little guitar ditty was about rainbows and cuddling kittens. 

Quite why Ellie is so miffed is a mystery, but we do know father figure Joel will once again be by her side in The Last Of Us 2. The main playable character of the original is a weirdly sedate presence in the trailer; all passive dialogue “You really gonna go through with this?”, and ghostly entrances. 

This has lead some to some Last Of Us 2 theories where folk are speculating Joel is actually dead. Whether Naughty Dog is trying to pull a Sixth Sense on us or not, it’s clear Ellie and Joel’s relationship is the central theme of The Last Of Us 2.

The Last Of Us 2’s main character is Ellie

Another bombshell, and entirely the right decision. “Joel was the star of the first game,” says Neil Druckmann. “Ellie’s the star of this game.” Naughty Dog’s potty-mouthed teen is one of the most honestly written, bullshit-free characters in PlayStation history. That PS4’s premier developer is allowing her to blossom even further as the lead character of The Last Of Us 2 is downright thrilling.

“Ellie plays differently than Joel,” admits Druckmann. “I’m getting into risky territory here [laughs]. Some things are evolution, some things are reinvention, but there will be a gameplay reveal down the road.” Don’t worry, Neil. You failed to spill even a single bean. Naughty Dog is understandably keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to Last Of Us 2 gameplay details, but it seems safe to assume Ellie will handle quite differently to the way Joel did last time out.

In the first Last Of Us, you briefly play as Ellie over the course of the game’s mesmerising, entirely sinister Winter chapter; the roles reversed as the resourceful teen becomes Joel’s protector after he’s badly injured by a group of dastardly cannibals. During this segment, we discover Ellie is much quicker than Joel, and her fleet-footed stealth crawl made it easier to outflank enemies. On the flipside, it also meant she could take way less damage than her Texan chum. If you do get to play as Joel in certain sections of The Last Of Us 2, don’t be surprised if he’s more cumbersome to control than Ellie – in fairness, dude has some serious city miles on him. 

The Last Of Us 2 plot is definitively about Joel and Ellie 

Druckmann admits he and Naughty Dog’s other bigwigs briefly toyed with the idea of making The Last Of Us 2 about other characters. Thank Ellie’s viscera-splattered guitar they saw sense. “The Last Of Us is about these two characters specifically,” Druckmann elaborated at the PlayStation Experience. “‘Part 2’ is saying this is going to be a larger story; it’s going to be a complementary story to the first game, but together, the two combined are going to tell this much larger tale.”

And here we were thinking The Last Of Us 2 was going to put us in the decomposing shoes of a Clicker who just wanted to know what it was like to fall in love. Judging by Druckmann’s comments, this follow-up is going to be much more closely linked to its predecessor than many other triple-A sequels. Seeing as the last game ended on such a wonderfully ambiguous, quasi-cliffhanger, we expect The Last Of Us 2 to deal with the lie Joel told Ellie during that emotional epilogue. 

Don’t forget, the weathered Texan smuggler basically doomed humanity to extinction when he stopped the Fireflies from performing a lethal operation on Ellie that could have produced a cure for the Cordyceps Brain Infection. Sure, he saved his surrogate daughter’s life, but he also went against her wishes; damning humanity to generations of scratching out an existence against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. 

When it comes to The Last Of Us 2 story details, we expect to find out whether or not Ellie has bought into Joel’s lie, and if not, explore the resentment that’s bound to have festered in her for the past five years. Druckmann has also hinted the story may touch on religion. Don’t be surprised if the Fireflies want revenge on Joel, either. Seeing as he killed their leader Marlene and wiped out a good chunk of their forces during the final chapter of the first game, we have to think they’d like to exact extra bloody payback. If the Fireflies are trying to finish Joel and anyone who stands with him, perhaps Ellie is referring to the faction when she glibly promises to “kill every last one of them,” during The Last Of Us 2’s first trailer.

The Last Of Us 2 is being co-written by one of Westworld’s writers

Ellie and Joel are still very much Neil Druckmann’s brainchildren – that’s a thing, right? – but for The Last Of Us 2, he’s getting in some fresh blood to help with the script. Excitingly, one of Westworld’s writers has come on board to assist with the plot of The Last Of Us 2. Halley Gross, who wrote two episodes of HBO’s ultra sexy sci-fi Western series (namely, Trompe L’Oeil and The Adversary), has confirmed she’s co-writing The Last Of Us 2’s story. 

Gross is actually a talented Jack – should that be ‘Jill’(?) of all trades – having also acted in shows as diverse as Comedy Central’s Broad City to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It’s not clear if Naughty Dog approached Gross following Westworld’s astronomical success, or if she’s been helping out on The Last Of Us 2 for a while. Regardless, it’s super exciting to see a writer who’s penned scripts for the hottest show on the planet get involved with the story of The Last Of Us 2. 

The Last Of Us 2 is not co-directed by Bruce Straley

After directing both The Last Of Us and Uncharted 4 alongside Neil Druckmann, it’s been revealed Bruce Straley won’t be co-directing The Last Of Us Part 2. Considering his last two games are stone cold classics, it’s an undeniable bummer. Naughty Dog confirmed Straley won’t be involved with The Last Of Us 2 in a statement to Kotaku, though the developer did hint he may be working on his own game (a new IP, perhaps?) when he returns to work:

“Bruce recently decided to take some much deserved time off after shipping two critically acclaimed games in the last few years. He’s looking forward to returning to the studio soon and jumping back in on his next project.”

Whether Druckmann will take on the dual roles of both creative director and game director on The Last Of Us 2 is unclear. Perhaps Naughty Dog will bring in a new director to allow Neil to concentrate fully on ensuring this sequel’s script lives up to the impeccable standards set by the original. 

The Last Of Us 2 release date hasn’t been set yet

No real surprise on this one. Naughty Dog has been burned a couple of times promising release dates the studio couldn’t quite deliver, subsequently singeing its stupidly talented fingers when the games were delayed. Both The Last Of Us and Uncharted 4 were pushed back on more than one occasion, so it seems wise Druckmann and co. are currently playing it cool in regards to The Last Of Us 2 release date.

“We have an idea, but we’ve learned now several times not to say that publicly until we’re confident,” Druckmann admitted at PSX. “We’re going to hold off on saying when it’s going to come out for a while.” We’d love if The Last Of Us 2 could somehow sneak onto our PS4s in 2018, yet we wouldn’t be shocked if Joel and Ellie’s sequel doesn’t launch until 2019. Dear lord does waiting ever suck. 

The Last Of Us 2 visuals will be stunning with the most advanced character models to ever hit PS4

Forget the Uncanny Valley, The Last Of Us 2 is going to rock the most believable characters Naughty Dog has ever rendered. Hell, listening to Druckmann, they’re gonna be the most sexily sophisticated virtual people ever to grace PS4. “Within Sony’s group this is by far the most advanced character model we’ve ever created,” says Druckmann. “Just the way the flesh can move over the bone… we could never cut to a close-up of eyes before, because we could never get the fidelity. Now we can.”

Using new mo-cap and rendering techniques, Naughty Dog’s artists are transposing some of Ellie and Joel’s facial features onto renders of their actors, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. Druckmann showed off the technique in a behind-the-scenes video at PSX. It showed a render of Johnson with Ellie’s distinctive freckles imprinted over the actress’ face. “We create digital doubles of them, while our artists create a whole new sculpt, a next-gen sculpt, of Joel and Ellie… We’re trying to take the performance of the digital double and transpose it onto Ellie.”

So basically, Naughty Dog are amalgamating the characters and their actors’ facial features to ensure Joel and Ellie are the most believable virtual lifeforms you’ve ever seen on PS4. Imagining anything that looks better than Uncharted 4’s uncannily lifelike motion-capture is pretty freaky, but if any studio can continue to better its existing, best-in-class achievements, it’s Naughty Dog. 

The Last Of Us 2 soundtrack will feature the original game’s composer

Gustavo Santaolalla is /the/ man. Specifically, a man who is very, VERY good at writing music. The Argentine composer won back-to-back Best Original Score Oscars for his work on Brokeback Mountain and Babel, before going on to conduct The Last Of Us’ masterful, melancholy soundtrack. Druckmann recently confirmed Santaolalla is returning to compose the music for the Last Of Us Part 2, especially notable as it’s the first time he’s returned for a sequel.

“We’ve been talking about this project for a couple of years,” Druckmann admits at the PlayStation Experience. “He’s never done a sequel to anything he’s done. He’s so prolific and so good. He has these passion projects he just picks and chooses. He doesn’t care about the money. He started writing some new themes for us, and for this trailer you hear some new themes at the beginning, and a new rendition for the original theme at the end.” Buckle up, eardrums. If /that/ giraffe scene is anything to go by, The Last Of Us 2 is going to be one of PS4’s most invigorating audio experiences… 

The Last Of Us 2 trailer was shot around two years ago

Turns out, everyone who works for or with Naughty Dog is /really/ good at keeping secrets. Who’d have thunk it? Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson have been working on The Last Of Us 2 for a couple of years now, so god knows how long Neil Druckmann has been beavering away on the game’s script. “He [Neil] sent me that scene a couple of years ago, with that song which is by Shawn James [Through The Valley],” says Johnson speaking at the PlayStation Experience. 

Druckmann admits he first pitched The Last Of Us 2 to Johnson back when he told the actress about the original game’s Left Behind DLC. “So as we walked through the whole story of Left Behind, Ashley’s crying at the end,” says Druckmann. “Then I’m like, ‘I have one more story I want to pitch’, and I walked her through the story of Part II, and she’s bawling by the end of it.” To put that into context, Left Behind came out in February 2014. That’s some damn fine secret-keeping.

Related The Last Of Us 2 news

Joel’s dead, Ellie’s pregnant – The Last of Us 2 theories fans are all arguing over

The Last of Us 2 concept art gives us a glimpse of what’s in store. Ellie, what have you done?

The Last of Us 2 loses co-creator Bruce Straley but gains a Westworld writer

The Last Of Us 2’s themes might involve religion and “the choices that defined who we are”

The Last Of Us 2 stars Ellie as the playable character and is a story about hate: “she’s seen some sh*t”

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