The Last of Us was my favorite game of all time. There are a lot of reasons why it is an incredible video game, and will always be, in my mind, replayable, shocking, and worthy of many tears and hours put into it. Naughty Dog, the developers of The Last of Us, announced the sequel to the game in December - The Last of Us: Part II. They announced it at the PSX event with a teaser trailer that doesn't reveal very much. You can watch that here.
Before I discuss the trailer and the potential for The Last of Us: Part II, I will briefly review the original game (spoilers ahead).
The Last of Us tells the story of Joel and Ellie, an unlikely pair in a dangerous world dominated by the victims of a brain virus that has transformed its hosts into vicious, fungus-covered monsters. Joel is a cold middle-aged man with a dark past. Ellie is a rambunctious and fiery fourteen-year-old girl who's been infected, but appears to be immune. Joel must lead the immune Ellie on an arduous cross-country journey from Boston to Salt Lake City, where she can be potentially used for a vaccine at the lab of a prominent militia group. Joel and Ellie travel through cities, suburbs, and wilderness filled with humans who have turned to any means to survive, and the infected. Throughout the course of the game, which spans a year of in-game time, we see how Ellie and Joel grow extremely close. This leads to the dramatic and shocking ending in which Joel kidnaps Ellie from the Fireflies (the militia group who would be creating the vaccine) in order to save her life, but probably also damn the rest of the surviving human race. Joel lies to Ellie, telling her there were others like her and that they didn't need her, ending with her asking Joel to swear to her that this was true. He does so and she simply responds: "Okay."
The original game was so great because it was at the pinnacle of video game storytelling. It was written beautifully, with the relationship of the two protagonists at its core. This was supported by the horrifying yet beautiful settings, threatening and intelligent enemies, and gorgeous score composed and performed by Gustavo Santaolalla. The gameplay was difficult, realistic, and fun, if clunky at times. A combination of stealth, action, scavenging and exploration make this rather linear game have a less-confined feel to it. The detail of the settings you journey through adds a lot to the overall world of The Last of Us as you can pick up notes left behind by loved ones telling of the horrifying takeover by the infected, or see graffiti telling of the resistance of the people against the military after martial law was enacted. Overall, the game was emotionally compelling, beautiful, and a hell of a lot of fun.
So, Part II. What could be next for Joel and Ellie. If you watched the trailer, you will have seen a few important things. Let's break it down...
1. Ellie is the focus.
Ellie, who is now 19, as Neil Druckmann - creative director of both games - has said, will be the main protagonist of the new game. In the trailer, she looks visibly older, and more pissed off. She also plays the guitar and sings an ominous song, so we know Joel did eventually teach her to play the guitar as he promised in the first game. We got the chance to play as Ellie during the "Winter" portion of the game, but I know that I speak for many people when saying that we're desperate for more time as her.
2. We have no idea what Joel is doing... yet.
We do see Joel in the trailer, but this is brief and vague. As Ellie sings inside of a room, surrounded by a few dead bodies, the blurry image of Joel enters the house and walks to the room Ellie sits in. We see his back, and the side of his face before the focus once again shifts to Ellie. Interestingly, in the brief moment we see him, he looks to have not aged. He says "What are you doing, kiddo? You really gonna go through with this?" This, combined with his appearance, has led many fans to theorize that Joel could be either dead (Ellie is imagining him from beyond the grave, sort of like a spiritual guide), missing (Ellie is imagining him in his absence), or still with Ellie, but probably feeling much more passive as he continues to age. The focus of the game is clearly shining on Ellie, so we'll have to wait to see in what capacity Joel returns.
3. Ellie's out for blood, but why?
Ellie responds to Joel's questions saying, "I'm gonna find and I'm gonna kill every last one of them." So she's angry for some reason. Angry enough at a bunch of people that she's already killed a few people and is only looking to kill the rest. Why? Neil Druckmann said the first game was about love, and this new game will be about hate. It's going to be dark and violent, and Ellie's going to be a big part of that. But WHY???
Well, let's talk about some plot theories.
I. Ellie is going to kill Joel's killers.
This is a popular one, and would make sense as to why Ellie is so pissed off. What would make her want to go kill so many people other than someone killing her father-figure, protector, and best friend Joel?
II. The Theseus Theory.
This is a new theory I happened upon and I'm a huge fan of it. It's rather extensive so instead of trying to explain it, I'll just link the video for you guys to watch here.
III. Ellie is going to kill her lover's killers.
We know that a new secondary character, who will be LGBT in some way, will play a role in Part II. We have no other details, but perhaps the only other person to warrant such a bloody ordeal for Ellie would be someone she's fallen deeply in love with. This is most likely another girl, as we know that Ellie is gay. But that would just suck because we want our girl to find love!
We will have to wait a little bit longer to gain more knowledge about what's coming in The Last of Us: Part II. Either way, I'm counting the days, because I am truly excited for the sequel to my favorite game ever.