Released in 2013, The Last of Us follows Ellie and Joel as they struggle to survive amid the outbreak of a mutant fungus that has ravaged the world as they know it and infected human hosts, transforming them into bloodthirsty creatures. In Part II, the pair have now settled in Jackson, Wyoming. Ellie is 19, lives on her own and has forged lasting relationships in the community. But they soon suffer a violent event, and Ellie sets off in search of retribution.
The story spans multiple season and climates. “Our goal was to make these environments not only beautiful, but as grounded and authentic as the cities they’re based on,” Druckmann explained. Much of the story takes place in Seattle 25 years after the pandemic began. The world is now completely overgrown. “It’s a war zone in the wake of the pandemic, with two factions fighting for resources,” he said, adding that one began as a result of military occupation of Seattle.
Druckmann went on to say that the game offers “some of the largest environments we’ve ever created.” He gave the example of some streets being so flooded that a boat is required in order to navigate them, along with architecture and weather changing as the characters press on with their journey.
On the other side of the bloody conflict is a group of religious zealots. Druckmann described them as “deeply tribalistic and territorial, known for being stealthy, using overgrowth as cover.”
Throughout the game, the director emphasized that “every human is in danger at falling victim to the infected.” Among the enemies, runners are more aggressive, while the blind but extremely deadly clickers post a large threat along with stalkers who surprise victims with deadly violence.
“Overcoming these threats will require careful consideration,” said Druckmann, emphasizing that equipment and skills can be used to the player’s advantage in combat. Outside, guard dogs can pick up scents and alert their handlers to a threat. If needed, Ellie can flee a difficult encounter and return stronger after collecting resources. In some of these combat encounters, allies can meaningfully provide assistance.
There will often be multiple threats present, and players must choose whether to attack separately and directly, or find ways to pit characters and enemies against each other. Training manuals are scattered throughout the environment to help the greater missions.
Druckmann pointed out that there is an extension of agency and personalization of weapons through a new workbench system in the game. Survival requires using parts and ingredients found in environment, such as pistol suppressors and proximity mines. “All of these gameplay systems are meant to immerse you in the world and Ellie’s emotional journey,” he said.
Druckmann labeled the game, which is set to be released June 19 on PlayStation 4, “Naughty Dog’s largest and most ambitious” so far.
View a recording of the extended gameplay footage, below.