How Much of the Fake E3 2016 The Last of Us 2 “leak” was Right?

Back in September 2016, a magazine scan detailing “The Last of Us 2” leaked. This was supposedly follow-up coverage from the game’s announcement at E3 2016, something that never happened. The Last of Us Part II would be revealed months later in December 2016. Some theorized that Sony cut The Last of Us Part II reveal from E3 2016, instead filling the end slot with a live demo of Days Gone, a game that was featured near the beginning of the press conference as well. This would have, theoretically, lead to this magazine article never being published.

In September 2016, I was gullible. 2020 Max is educated now. It helps by writing a complete history on The Last of Us Part II’s development. Just looking at the spelling and grammar points to a fake. But now that the game is just 10 days from release, I have a pretty confident in looking back at what this “leak” actually got right. I thought it’d be fun, so I transcribed the scan below with my comments interjected. You can see the original Imgur post here.

Our team wanted to focus on the realism, from facial expressions and characters movement to the narrative and story. And speaking about the story…As the game is scheduled to 2018 and its precursor was launched in 2013, Ellie will be 5 years older, aging 19, exactly the same time that separates the two games.

Naughty Dog certainly had a focus on realism with facial expressions. They poured a ton of tech into creating digital doubles. Ellie’s age is also correct, despite the gap in real world time being either the reason why.

According to Neil Druckmann, director of the first game, Ellie “(…) grown up and got more mature, just as the players did, and you will see that through her journey.”

The grammar / structure of this “quote” is bad.

Bruce Straley – who has also worked with the first game and in the recently launched ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’ – gives us a sneak peak in regards of the new possibilities we will have in this sequel:

Outside of the grammar, this is rather telling of the validity of this “leak.” Bruce was likely a part of early discussions and design for the sequel, but he did end up leaving Naughty Dog not terribly long after the launch of Uncharted 4.

“The larger scenarios leave many possibilities of interaction, and this was a big deal to the team. The gameplay freedom is huge. We want the player to be creative and explore these mechanics as much as possible, using anything they have at their disposal in each location.

According to the producers, the game will not be a ‘sandbox’, but it will bring open-world features, being able to explore between – and I quote – ‘city scaled areas’.

This is by far the most accurate claim, but also, arguably, the easiest to predict in a post-Uncharted 4 world. The direction the studio was taking with wide-linearity was no secret. It is surprising to look back now though with the knowledge that Seattle is the main city that The Last of Us Part II takes place in and appear to be quite open.

“Ellie will show herself as a strategist in these occasions, given that in these 5 years she’s learned a lot with Joel, much more than what the previous gave has revealed”, says Straley. “But that doesn’t mean she won’t show us her wilder and more violent side. However, that will depend a lot on the situation, and maybe, even the players.”

Very generic, safe, but plausible early dev talk. I imagine this is pretty easy to cook up.

Finally, Druckmann tells that the game will show us important moments that shaped the personality of this new Ellie we are getting to know. “They are directly related with what we wrote in The Last of Us storyline structure. It’s all we can say at the moment. The Last of Us 2 is about a journey of seeking answers, and we want to impress the players with revelations and the way they happen.”It’s possible that The Last of Us 2 will be coming with the new version of PS4, that supports 4k resolution. A new version of The Last of Us Remastered, also with 4k support, is in Naughty Dog plans as well.

More generic talk, but they were right about The Last of Us Remastered getting PS4 Pro 4K support. An easy prediction at the time, for sure.

If you want a real and in-depth look at the development of The Last of Us Part II, I’d encourage you to look at Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era. I spent the last four months working on the story. You may read it or listen to it as a podcast. I’m biased, but I don’t think there is a better way to prepare for The Last of Us Part II.