At the very end of the PlayStation 3’s life cycle, Naughty Dog and Sony delivered one of the most critically acclaimed games of the generation with The Last of Us. The post-apocalyptic masterpiece is easily one of the best games on the PS3 and one of the best games of the last generation in general, but even so, there’s always room for improvement in The Last of Us 2.
Taking into account the sales success of The Last of Us, as well as the critical acclaim, it’s no surprise that The Last of Us 2 is on the way. The game’s existence was accidentally confirmed during a live-stream of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection by Naughty Dog, and now speculation is running wild among fans regarding improvements for the sequel.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of five things we hope to see from The Last of Us 2 whenever it does release. Keep in mind that this list will have some spoilers for the first Last of Us.
Joel and Ellie’s Story Continued
Anyone that played through The Last of Us will have a hard time forgetting its ending. With so much moral ambiguity at play, Naughty Dog chose not to end this chapter in Joel and Ellie’s life with a firm statement, but rather a lot of questions. Even so, tere are those that feel this ending was the absolute perfect way to finish Joel and Ellie’s story, and would rather see the post-apocalyptic sequel take on new main characters. While others still want to see the story of Joel and Ellie continued.
Troy Baker (the voice actor of Joel) has denied any knowledge of The Last of Us 2, which could be a sign Naughty Dog is moving on without Joel, or it could just be Baker playing coy. Considering the fantastic performance he gave as Joel in the first game, and the award-winning performance of Ashley Johnson as Ellie, it would be a shame not to see their harrowing trek through the post-apocalyptic landscape continue.
More Character Development for Side Characters
The first game is the story of Joel and Ellie, and it spends a significant amount of time developing them as characters, and rightfully so. However, with most of the background information and character building already done for Joel and Ellie, the sequel can spend more time on side characters, perhaps even making them playable for stretches of time.
Particularly, we would love to see Joel’s brother Tommy have more screen time than he did in the first game. If the ending of The Last of Us is any indication, it looks like Joel and Ellie will be starting the next game at his settlement, so that offers plenty of opportunity to have him featured as a more central character.
Less Linear Levels and Objectives
One of the main criticisms lobbed at The Last of Us is its extreme linearity. The game is very straight-forward, and while it does encourage players to explore the environment a bit, there is basically one path to the end. If Naughty Dog is able to incorporate levels that are even more open than they were before, and include objectives that allow players to tackle them from multiple angles, then they can easily silence some of the loudest critics of the first game.
Explore the Past
Fans were hungry for more after The Last of Us, and Naughty Dog satiated their appetite with the excellent The Last of Us: Left Behind. This brilliant expansion explored Ellie’s past, revealing a lot about her character that wasn’t apparent in the main game.
While we wouldn’t want an entire Last of Us game set before the events of the original, The Last of Us 2 could feature flashback sequences like Left Behind. After all, there was 20 years between the start of the outbreak and Joel and Ellie’s journey, offering plenty of ground to cover in flashback sequences.
Flashback sequences could also give Naughty Dog the opportunity to revisit characters that didn’t make it out of the first game alive, like Tess or Nolan North’s David. It could also be really interesting to explore the events surrounding Ellie’s birth, and Marlene’s relationship with Ellie’s mother Anna.
Alternate Story Paths
The Last of Us is one of the most emotionally charged experiences that can be found in video games, with engrossing, cinematic cut-scenes that are beautifully acted and presented. However, the frequency of these scenes and their length had some criticizing The Last of Us as being “more movie than game”. While we don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment, The Last of Us 2 could take a few cues from Sony’s recent Until Dawn, which is basically an interactive movie that features an absurd amount of alternate story paths to keep the plot engaging for players every time they play the game.
By having alternate story paths, it would greatly increase the game’s replayability. With the exception of those that enjoy finding collectibles and the trophy hunters out there, most people probably didn’t feel like going back through the main campaign again. The Last of Us’ heavy focus on story and its cinematic nature, while definitely two of the game’s strong suits, also kept it from being a game that people played repeatedly, so if The Last of Us 2 incorporates choice-driven alternate story paths, it could give gamers the excuse they need to play through the campaign multiple times.
Naughty Dog created an endlessly intriguing fictional universe with the first Last of Us, and there are a near infinite number of directions they can go in with the sequel. While we have no doubt that Naughty Dog has its own ideas for the sequel, these suggestions could help better the overall experience.
In the meantime, gamers will likely have some time to wait before they start hearing anything official about the game. So far, all Naughty Dog has said is that development on The Last of Us 2 won’t start until Uncharted 4 is finished.
The Last of Us 2 currently lacks a release date or even a release window, but it’s a sure bet that whenever it does release, it will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive.