Our take on The Last Of Us Part 2 release date and story

The Last Of Us: Part 2Joel and Ellie are back with the recent confirmation that The Last Of Us: Part 2 is finally on the way and while the release date is “a ways off” according to director Neil Druckmann the arrival of the reveal trailer below kicks things off in dark and dramatic tones. Announced at Sony’s PlayStation Experience 2016 event in December 2016, there’s not much to go on apart from the trailer itself, but that’s just enough to kick off the speculation about what to expect and when to expect it.

The opening game was the game of the year when it arrived in 2013, so the pressure is on for the sequel to land with the same kind of intensity and emotional connection to the characters as its predecessor. It was such a stand-out game that Sony and developers Naughty Dog went on to release a Remastered version of the game for the PlayStation 4, so when the next game arrives you’ll be able to hit them up back to back on the same console with added impact of the current gen graphics.

The Last Of Us: Part 2 reveal trailer:

Release date speculation

Apart from the woolly “ways off” reference above, there’s not really that much to go on for the UK release date for the game. On the face of things you might imagine that we’re looking at 2018 at the earliest, but we’re convinced it’s going to be a little sooner. Our best bet in on Christmas 2017 at the very latest due to the importance of exclusive content to the console war that is ongoing between PlayStation and Xbox. The limp release of the PlayStation 4 Pro and the impending arrival of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio – dubbed the most powerful console ever and planned for “holiday 2017” according to xbox.com – has put the pressure on and Sony needs The Last Of Us: Part 2 sooner rather than later. If that isn’t enough to indicate that it’ll be a 2017 release, you can add the fact that the scenes in the trailer below were being worked on two years ago, so we’re thinking development may well be further away than they’re letting on.

You can keep tabs on the latest from the developers at the Naughty Dog Twitter page, which includes some random cosplay, a how-to crochet Ellie and some cool behind the scenes stills.

Story – rumours, conjecture and what we know for sure

What we can take from the trailer is that Ellie has got a pretty grim job ahead of her as she’s planning on finding killing every last one of them. Who the “them” are is still out for debate, but the fact that the opening sequences show a sign that has been spray-painted with the Fireflies insignia acts as a pretty big indicator that they could be in the frame. It looks like a simple case retribution, but then you can never second guess Naughty Dog developments.

There’s a lot of speculation online that suggests that the reveal trailer points to the possible death of Joel with his halo of light arrival part way through and the references to Ellie going it alone in her fight. However, there are just as many coherent arguments that counter this, not least of all the slightly obvious nature of using a main character death as the premise for the game. Added to this is the need to address the ending to The Last Of Us and what it means for the relationship between Joel and Ellie.

While both arguments have their pros and cons, we doubt it’ll end up being the cheap options, which would indicate that there’s going to be something more complex and emotive behind Joel not going along with Ellie in her death hunt. We’re also expecting at least a little misdirection in the trailer as Naughty Dog try to keep everyone guessing ahead of the release date, so if anything all bets are off.

What we do know for sure following the PlayStation Experience 2016 Part 2 panel discussion is that the story will be told from the standpoint of Ellie this time around, contrasting to the first film, which was seen through the eyes of Joel. It takes place around five years after the events of the first game, and will see you taking control of Ellie at nineteen years of age. You can see from the trailer that she’s looking pretty fired up, but it’s still the same endure and survive world that she lives in, so it’s going to be one hell of a challenge.

Druckmann described it as a larger, complimentary story to the first game, as well as being a polar opposite to the importance of love to the plot of the previous installment. This time hate is the order of the day and with references in his comments during the panel discussion to it being a “statement” it’ll be interesting to see whether or not it taps into themes that cross over into the real world endure and survive. You can watch the full panel discussion below, but be warned, it’s over 40-minutes long, so you might want to get yourself a cuppa before pressing play.

The Last Of Us: Part 2 PlayStation Experience 2016 panel discussion:

Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker are back as Ellie and Joel and the developers used some pretty fancy motion capture reanimation to create their facial features, but with the look of the characters. From the sound of things, the game may well be the fanciest looking we’ve seen on PlayStation to date, so we can’t wait to see the gameplay reveal when it eventually arrives.

First impressions

If all goes to plan for PlayStation and Naughty Dog with The Last Of Us: Part 2 then it could be one of the greatest games in history, but then it’s never easy following something that has become as seminal as the original title. There’s going to be a lot of hype about the game in the run-up to the eventual release date, along with the weight of expectation, so no pressure guys. Early signs are positive, leading to more questions than answers, so hopefully that’s a good indicator that the game is going to be just as nuanced. Gustavo Santaolalla is back to compose the music, so it should be just as memorable as the 2013 original.

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