Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us turned out to be a huge success when it released back in 2013, being broadly praised by critics and selling millions in the process. However, it’s now been revealed that the team working on the game were far from sure that the title would be a hit while it was in development.
Speaking to Wil Wheaton in PlayStation’s latest Conversations with Creators video, co-director Bruce Straley states that he ‘thought it was going to tank’. Straley goes on to suggest that he and his team were concerned that they were ‘ruining Naughty Dog’s image’.
Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case. The Last of Us is perhaps the most highly acclaimed title that the studio has created to date. Moreover, it became the fastest-selling PlayStation 3 title ever upon its release — not the sort of thing that you’d expect to ruin a studio’s reputation.
The bleak outlook that the developers had on the game’s potential for success centred around its gameplay. The Last of Us adds a generous twist of stealth to the more bombastic third-person action of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, and the team behind the game were reportedly worried that this change ‘wasn’t gelling’.
However, it certainly came together in the end, based on the way critics responded to The Last of Us. That being said, the game’s narrative was really the star, and that was what stood out to most people who played it. Positive response to the story ahead of release was apparently the turning point for the team’s outlook on the title.
Now, The Last of Us has etched its mark on the video game canon as the swan song of the PlayStation 3 — even if the remastered version for the PlayStation 4 is perhaps the definitive way to experience it. As with any successful title, fans have now set about clamouring for a follow-up.
It seems likely that Naughty Dog will make those wishes a reality, as rumors persist that the studio is hiring for the game’s sequel. While the original seemed to be designed as a one-off, there’s certainly plenty of scope for another trip to the vision of a post-apocalyptic Earth that The Last of Us put forward.
Of course, work on a sequel would mean the pressure is really on for the team. Fans didn’t know what to expect from The Last of Us — but given it’s enormous success, expectations will be very high indeed for the as-yet-unconfirmed follow-up.