Naughty Dog was “Worried” That Left Behind Would Diminish The Last of Us Experience

February 7, 2014Written by Jason Dunning


There’s just one week to go before The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC releases on February 14th (expect our review soon!). Before the new DLC is unleashed to the world, though, Creative Director Neil Druckmann discussed the new story with Eurogamer, where they said Left Behind has about two hours of playtime, depending on your difficulty setting. Also, when Neil heard the interviewee’s positive thoughts on Left Behind, he replied, “We were worried that we’d somehow diminish the experience of The Last of Us. So that’s great to hear.”

Putting you in the shoes of Ellie and Riley before the events of The Last of Us, the game’s only single player DLC could have gone in a completely different direction and starred Ish, as Neil explained:

The only reason we discussed it is because we thought there was so much demand for it. The thing with Ish, I think it’s one of those things that’s better left to the imagination – everyone has a different idea of what he looks like, how old he is or how he’d behave. It felt like we’d take something away from that by fleshing it out. Even in the DLC, we actually had at one point a note that we wrote out that you’d find that continued Ish’s story. It was a really moving note about him and his relationship with Susan, but it felt too much like fan service, too much of a coincidence that you’d find this note.

In the end, it was pretty easy for Naughty Dog to pick Ellie and Riley as the stars in Left Behind, with Druckmann saying, “We had a quick brainstorm of ideas, and pretty quickly none of them lasted more than a sentence or two. We’d keep coming back to this story. It felt like a story that could stand on its own and had its own arc, that fit with the themes of The Last of Us, but more importantly it gave new light on the main story. It fits all those criteria on what would make a story worth telling.”

Of course, anyone who has played through The Last of Us knows how Left Behind ends, and it forced the development team to ask, “Is there anything new here, and is there any other insight I could gain from this? And it’s not so much about how it ends. It’s about this journey, and seeing the impact the relationship has with Ellie and how deep it went. It felt like a new insight into who Ellie was.”

Looking at the gameplay of Left Behind, there will be less combat than you saw in the main game, but a new mechanic allowing the infected to fight the humans while you’re hiding will be introduced. As it turns out, “It is something we wanted in the original game – we had some areas in Pittsburgh where we wanted to use it. We’d set them against each other and add more strategy to the combat. But it’s one of those things where the game was so ambitious and so big, we kind of had to say… We had a prototype, and it was good but we didn’t have enough time to polish it. And the story didn’t require it, so it was one of those things.”

How excited are you for Left Behind next week? Let us know in the comments below.