Spoiler Warning: The following piece contains spoilers regarding certain plot points in The Last of Us. If you have not completed the game and do not want to be spoiled, please avoid reading any further, and do yourself a favor: go play this game.
Chandler: I have found myself questioning if I really want The Last of Us 2. The Last of Us was just so great as a complete package. The narrative perfectly guided Joel on his journey, from losing his daughter as the infection began, to completing that circle through his bond with Ellie. To tell the story of their continued survival would just feel like an ancillary subplot, potentially undermining the well designed emotional evolution that took us through multiple aspects of Joel’s grieving process to the ultimate conclusion of the game. Endings are written as endings for a reason.
Why not a prequel? We could explore Joel’s time between the death of his daughter and meeting Ellie, right? Once again, I feel that this isn’t pertinent to his story. We saw the major emotion-altering moments in his life — the ones that we needed to see in order to understand why his relationship with Ellie became what it did. There can’t possibly be anything near as intensely captivating in the 20 years that we fast forwarded past, and if there was, again, I fear that it may work only to subvert the original’s plot by creating solecisms of poignant moments, as we already know Joel’s state of mind and heart by the time he meets Ellie.
I don’t want The Last of Us 2. Joel and Ellie don’t need a forced prequel, sequel, or anything in between. We got all that we need with Joel and Ellie through The Last of Us and the Left Behind DLC. That said, I do think there is potential in the universe. It’s a fascinatingly dark world, and surely there are many more impassioned stories taking place. We got just a glimpse at a few stories as Joel and Ellie made their journey, from Bill and his partner, to the tragic story of Henry and Sam. What I do want from the next game in The Last of Us’ world is to leave Joel and Ellie’s story behind and get into the head of someone else we don’t know yet. How does the apocalypse affect a broken home? What about a story of a group of orphaned siblings? There are numerous opportunities to explore relationships, values, and survival.
On that note, let’s not call it The Last of Us 2. Maybe have it be a play on the title to indicate that it is an entirely different story, but set in the same world. The Virtuous of Us. The Last of Them. I know, these are mediocre names at best, and having a story as a basis would likely unveil a far better name, but it gets my point across. Tell another complete story Naughty Dog, in that way that you do so well. I trust what you’ll do with the gameplay. And I trust what you’ll do with the story, as long as you let Joel and Ellie’s beautiful song be sung. It’s perfect as is. Though let’s be honest, if you do revisit those two, I’ll probably end up begrudgingly loving that too.
Dan: Sorry, but I have to disagree with you Chandler. That title isn’t mediocre, it’s terrible. But, all joking aside, I would love to see a return of Joel and Ellie. I think both characters have a strong enough presence to continue shining even past what we saw from the original The Last of Us. The only issue of course would be the risk that both of them could become diluted characters that feel more like a marketing construct, than a poignant memory that will still be with gamers for many years to come.
But, with that said, The Last of Us is absolutely ripe with potential outside of the two protagonists that we already know, but I would love to see what happened to them after a prolonged period of time. Ellie has already more than proven herself capable, so with her becoming an adult, and Joel getting further in his age, I think there are some interesting concepts that could be touched upon. The most obvious would be the swap between characters, where Ellie could become the protector of a much older Joel. The question of what happens to us as we age and how that is handled in a world torn apart and left to the wild could be something that flips the script on a number of gaming tropes.
Past that I would love to see some utilization of the newer technology on top of how the original already pushed the script. Obviously newer visuals would be an absolute must, but given the already beautiful visuals of the original, I would be fine with even the slightest upgrade. Some advancements in physics and animations would be great, but I would love to see more possibilities to use the environment, as that would only add to the characters’ presence in the world.
I would of course like a bigger focus on the game’s multiplayer aspect though, as it was one of the most underrated competitive modes of the last few years. While having to try and keep a group of survivors alive by looking for supplies is an interesting idea, I honestly hated that I could have almost a hundred people in my group who couldn’t bother to get anything themselves. So, besides having a bunch of freeloaders, I think maybe having the ability sub-manage a group would let players be able to capitalize on a risk vs. reward gameplay that could appeal to non-competitive fans.
While we are still sitting a bit away from a true confirmation about The Last of Us 2, I honestly couldn’t think of a reason why they shouldn’t do it. I know the concept of revisiting something that was so meaningful to so many people is a daunting task, and one that is sure to cause some concern for fans. But I honestly have absolute faith in Naughty Dog and their ability to not shy away from doing what is needed to maintain or even push an already beloved tale of hope.
Do you want Naughty Dog to continue to push forward in this post-apocalyptic world? Would you like to see Joel and Ellie again, or entirely new characters? Let us know in the comments below, email us at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net, or share your survival strategies with us @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife.