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The Last of Us: Left Behind Plot Point Explained by Druckmann; Ellie’s Job Revealed

February 24, 2014 Written by Jason Dunning

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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR LEFT BEHIND AHEAD

TURN BACK NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T BEATEN THE DLC

The chances of a sequel to The Last of Us and what Naughty Dog might be doing next weren’t the only things Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley talked about in their recent Reddit AMA, with the recently released Left Behind DLC also getting quite a bit of attention.

One of the biggest moments of Left Behind is when Ellie kisses Riley, which obviously raised questions about Ellie’s sexuality. Giving at least their side of it, Druckmann explained:

Actually our intention in writing (and the actors’ performances) is that they’re gay… but I understand that people have different interpretations to the material.

When a commenter brought up that people think it may have been a platonic kiss between friends, Druckmann replied, “It wasn’t my intention in writing that scene for it to be platonic… but at the same time I can’t tell people their interpretation is wrong, even if I disagree with it.”

Druckmann also explained that the reasoning behind Ellie being gay is because “it was the best decision for the character and the story of Left Behind… nothing less, nothing more.” They had even considered putting this reveal during the main game of The Last of Us, “but didn’t have to commit to anything since it wasn’t necessary for that story. Pinned it down for Left Behind since it was integral for its story.”

As for the decision to use a shopping mall in Left Behind, they “used the similar settings for both stories to show (without dialog) that Ellie is remembering (and drawing strength from) her time with Riley while she’s trying to save Joel. The mall made for a nice metaphor of kids skipping school in the Riley story.”

A fun tidbit that Neil revealed is Ellie’s role at military school, which was brought up when someone mentioned how Ellie said, “I’ve done this before, I’m kind of an expert” when stitching up Joel. Turns out, “She worked in the school’s infirmary, stitching up soldiers. We had some lines that we recorded where she tells Riley about it — but we had to cut them since they didn’t really help build their relationship and felt too expository.”

Moving to the ending of Left Behind and how it didn’t show Riley’s death, “it simply wasn’t necessary for this story – which is why we never even considered going there,” Neil said. And while the moments between the ending of Left Behind and Riley dying would be “an interesting story to explore,” they left it out “because it wasn’t necessary for Ellie’s arc in Left Behind.”

Druckmann then got very honest when explaining what the biggest challenge in creating Left Behind was:

Not fucking up the original game. Basically making sure we create a story that can stand on its own while giving new insight to the original story. Also, getting the nuances of Ellie and Riley’s relationship was really difficult — took a lot of iterations that are probably invisible to the player.

You can also expect a Making Of for Left Behind to be released soon (with footage of mo-cap and more), though it won’t show the kissing moment as it “seems too personal to put out there.”

What did you think of Left Behind? Let us know in the comments below.