Developer Naughty Dog has been making up for its long silence around The Last of Us Part 2 with an influx of new information over the last few days. Eager fans not only got a concrete release date for the game, but also a new trailer and a good deal of discussion on the developers' part - during which one unexpected change to the game's combat mechanics was revealed.
In the first game, shivs were crafted on the go; players could make one, sneak up on a clicker, and knife it in the neck as a means of killing the monster. The Last of Us Part 2 will reportedly work differently, and despite its continued caginess over story elements, Naughty Dog has at least been more willing to speak about its gameplay.
Speaking to VG247, The Last of Us Part 2 co-game director Anthony Newman shared a very specific piece of information about combat: shivs, which were a sure way to eliminate clickers previously, have been scrapped and replaced by Ellie's unbreakable switchblade.
"For us, Ellie’s switchblade was just so signature to her character...we were really challenged with how we could make stealth against Clickers challenging, while still allowing her to get stealth kills against them as if she had a shiv."
To balance out the change, players will now have to keep a close eye on their stealth. Before, movement speed had no bearing over whether an enemy heard Ellie coming; now, she'll now have to take agonizingly slow steps to surprise a clicker with her switchblade.
"I think one thing that’s pretty cool with Ellie’s switchblade is for us, it’s really about her getting the opportunity, so all she needs is an enemy to drop their guard down, and that’s why we went kind of extra hard on the stun strike system," Newman added. Players who can get the hang of this system will be able to maximize Ellie's deadliness, particularly if they can knock an enemy to their knees and before finishing with the blade--and given the massive size of Part 2, there will be plenty of opportunities. It's all about raising the skill ceiling of the game, and those who take the time to learn all the ins and outs of combat should notice the differences between being a seasoned player and a beginner.
Naughty Dog seems to want combat in The Last of Us Part 2 to be even more involved and engaging than the first game. The goal was making sure "there’s always something new to experiment with," and if done well, players are sure to appreciate the change.
The Last of Us Part 2 releases on February 21, 2020 as a PS4 exclusive, and has a number of pre-order options available now.