For the moment, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is the big-name Naughty Dog sequel that fans are clamoring for more information about — but an intriguing bit of information stowed away on the LinkedIn profile of one of the studio's former character artists seems to suggest that The Last of Us 2 might be on its way as well.
Michael Knowland is currently a senior character artist at Avalanche Studios, working on recently unveiled Just Cause 3. However, up until April of this year he was working at Naughty Dog — and it seems that as well as helping Uncharted lead Nathan Drake look the part for his current-gen debut, Knowland was doing early work on a sequel to The Last of Us.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Knowland spent a month 'prototyping head sculpts' for a game that he refers to directly as 'The Last of Us 2'. That doesn't give us much indication of how much the project has progressed, but it would seem to indicate that plans for the sequel are in motion — although we may not see anything official for a while.
After The Last of Us became such a critical darling following its initial release for the PlayStation 3 — as well as being a convincing commercial success — many speculated that a sequel seemed likely. However, many fans felt that the game was a perfect standalone experience, and that forcing a sequel would diminish some of the impact of the original.
In a situation all too familiar to the video game industry, the logic of sales and scores suggested that a followup was inevitable, even if the game's story had been told (and will be told again in a film adaptation). That said, based on Naughty Dog's track record, hopes were high that the studio would go about making a sequel the right way; a stance that was mirrored by Troy Baker, the lead voice actor for the first game.
We've only just seen the first gameplay from Uncharted 4, so expect the focus from Naughty Dog to be on that game until it releases in 2015. After that, however, it seems increasingly likely that the studio has more of The Last of Us in store. The fact that the developers are taking their time with the sequel bodes well — but that won't assuage fans desperate for more information.
Will Joel and Ellie make a return, or will the sequel focus on completely new characters? Can we expect any major changes in the way the game plays? How far into development is the project? At present, there are far more questions than there are answers — all we know is that it seems some work has already been done. Game Rant will keep you updated on The Last of Us 2 as more news becomes available.