Guest Appearance on Controlled Interests Episode 193 – PlayStation 5 Reveal Event Reactions and Analysis

PlayStation 5 Reveal Event Reactions & Analysis – CI Gamecast Ep. 193 – YouTube

Jerrad Wyche invited me onto his podcast Controlled Interests this week to discuss the PlayStation 5 reveal shortly after it aired. We had a fun and in-depth chat about everything that Sony laid out. Give the show a listen if you want to know how we felt about the PS5’s first real showing!

The PS5 Reveal Has Put All the Pressure Back on Microsoft – IGN

Opinion: The PS5 Reveal Has Put All the Pressure Back on Microsoft by Ryan McCaffrey for IGN

But none of those services ultimately matter without great games. And not “great” on the IGN scale (8 out of 10), but the 10-out-of-10 masterpiece-level games that Sony has delivered time and again this generation, and Microsoft hasn’t done since the Xbox 360 days. It’s not just a first-party situation either. Sony seems to have no issue with luring third-party developers to its platform with timed exclusivity deals. Microsoft, in turn, is more bearish on the practice. To that end, I would argue that there’s more riding on that July showcase than there’s ever been for another event in the entire history of the Xbox.

A video game console is only as good as the games you can play on it. Microsoft has been crushing it with the Xbox Series X reveals by announcing consumer friendly features, legacy support, and bonkers specs. Now, Microsoft needs the games.

Sony showed off a strong line-up of PS5 games last week and Sony has the history to instill confidence that these titles will be top tier. Microsoft needs to know this July showcase out of the park.

Xbox Series X Smart Delivery – Xbox Wire

Xbox Series X: Buy A Game Once and Play the Best Version Across Generations with Smart Delivery – Xbox Wire

Microsoft continues the trend of transparent, concise, consumer-friendly language detailing Xbox Series X features. They actually have a list fof currently supported games or crying out loud.

  • Halo Infinite 
  • Cyberpunk 2077 
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 
  • Destiny 2 
  • DiRT 5 
  • Scarlet Nexus 
  • Chorus 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon 
  • The Ascent 
  • Call of the Sea 
  • Gears 5 
  • Second Extinction 
  • Metal: Hellslinger 

Not a long list, by any means, but it will undoubtedly grow in July when Microsoft reveals their slew of games for the Series X. The next-gen console wars  are just beginning.

280 Characters is Not Enough

Some public bickering happened this weekend between Jason Schreier, Jeff Cannata, and Neil Druckmann. Jeff compared The Last of Us Part II and its artistic goal to the way he felt about Schindler’s List. I will not regurgitate, explain, provoke, or defend this discourse. If you are curious, start here and follow the trail.

This is not a defense of The Last of Us Part II. While I am clearly a fan, the game is not even publicly out yet. I have no idea if I will like it in the end or not. Rather, I will use this weekend’s squabble as a launch point for a far greater issue.

Empathy has all but vanished from any sort of discussion. Any room for level-headed critiques and courteous dialogue has been pushed aside by brevity. What was once the soul of wit has become the spirit of crassness. Opinion is passed around as fact. Understanding is no where to be found. Hot takes have melted cool conversation.

Twitter has become a mine field where the wrong tweet can spark a chain reaction of negative dog-piling. The loss of nuance, tone, inflection that quick-fire tweets naturally have can lead to misunderstanding. Emotion-fueled replies signal to thousands of followers that the original message is worthy of said response. A vast majority of folks take that at face value, never looking understand either party.

Twitter has been a source of poisoning the conversation around video games. My friend Logan has been dreading the discussion that surrounds The Last of Us Part II for these reasons exactly. It’s disheartening. It actively sucks the joy of upcoming releases. Fans don’t even form their own opinions anymore. It’s this person’s take or that person’s response. All black and white with no room to listen.

I’m quite tired of it.

Listen to people. Actually read. Ask questions. Reach out privately if you can. If a person is not respectfully engaging, mute and get on with your day. Do not feed the cycle of emotional hot takes. Don’t give bullies the reaction they thrive off of.

If you have more to say, make a blog.

The Last of Us Part II and Its Crisis-Strewn Path to Release – Wired

‘The Last of Us Part II’ and Its Crisis-Strewn Path to Release: by Darryn King for Wired

More unique access and insight to the development of The Last of Us Part II. Makes me wonder how Chasing the Stick would have turned out if I waited to publish after the game’s release.

Now, during this agonizing final stretch of development, Druckmann’s team is watching for players’ minute responses to the narrative and emotional beats. In the videofeeds piped out of the playtesting room, the dev team logs and annotates every clench of the jaw and widening of the eyes. Druckmann has even taken to spying on the gamers live from his office.

This is something briefly touched on back in 2013 with the documentary Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us. Even their approach and obsession with playtest has evolved. Playtests were a part of the game’s scope expanding in 2018.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves boasted epic set pieces that unspooled, in the parlance of the industry, “on the stick”—as the player played—instead of in passive cinematic cut scenes.

This is the core of Naughty Dog.

Even the dogs in The Last of Us Part II—which sniff out your scent trail and attack when they find you—are some of the most intelligent, realistic dogs in videogames ever. In Naughty Dog’s offices, playtesters have been horrified to find themselves committing acts of canine carnage. Yelps and whimpers and whines ring out, not all of them from the dogs. “It makes players feel dirty, and that’s part of the point,” Druckmann explains.

I’ve said it before, this game is going to be gruesome.

Druckmann is bombarded with anti-Semitic slurs, death threats, and messages informing him he has ruined the franchise.

Absolutely disgusting and saddening for this to happen to anyone. The anonymity of the Internet gives people a shameful boldness. Odds are too, that these despicable people will be buying the game day one. It fills my heart with grief.

The Games from the PS5 Event

Yesterday’s big blowout reveal for the PS5 was a blast. After months of waiting for more than a Wired article, Sony burst open the dam of information surrounding their next-gen console. The primary focus of the show was games. PlayStation CEO Jin Ryan opened the show with the exact type of language I wanted to hear.

“We are going to let our games do the talking.”

I wrote about the console design itself yesterday. It’s curvy, futuristic console that I love the look of. This post I wanted to focus on the games I enjoyed the most in the showcase. This post will not cover everything announced. If you want to see everything, Kotaku can help you out. A game console is only as good as the games you can play on it. These are the games that have me pumped for the PS5.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Trailer

What a way to kick off the proper PS5 portion of the show! Since the reveal, the game has been clouded in confusion on whether or not it is a sequel, spin-off, or enhanced port. This morning, Insomniac confirmed that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a standalone game. Jason Schreier says to think of it like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, a smaller spin-off, but still a new adventure.

Insomniac has had a long history with the PS5. From the earliest demos of the PS5 SSD, Marvel’s Spider-Man was the game shown off to display the speed. Clearly, Insomniac is one of the developers with the longest term of access to PS5 development.

As for the trailer itself, it focuses exclusively on the Miles expansion. No real gameplay or anything substantial, really. It’s more Spider-Man and it’s coming to the the PS5. This unfortunate  confusion, which could have been avoided, has muddied the reveal. I am glad it has been cleared up though so expectations can be set and folks can be excited for the launch later this year.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Trailer and Gameplay

Insomniac really just batting a thousand out of the gate. A brand-new Ratchet & Clank game will be such a treat. The 2016 remaster was an absolute blast to play. The gameplay shows off some unique properties of the PS5 performance, even at 1080p 30fps. The immediate world swapping/traveling, ray tracing with the lighting, and how Insomniac’s engine, which powers both Ratchet & Clank and Marvel’s Spider-Man, has a wide range of presentation.

Horizon II: Forbidden West

Trailer

The only prediction I got right from the event was this one. Everyone was expecting this announcement. And holy cow is does this game look gorgeous, especially when I watched the trailer in 4K on my television. Seems the plot revolves around some form of corruption polluting the land and Aloy is out to stop it. No date window on this one, but I imagine it will be PS5’s first major open-world exclusive. This is the top dog of PS5’s known lineup.

Resident Evil VIII: Village

Trailer

All for more spooky games. After a few years of remakes, it’s great to see a brand-new Resident Evil game. I really hope they keep VR support. Not only for PS VR, which is compatible with PS5 (plus the likelihood of seeing PS VR 2), but also the fact the VR itself seems more and more widespread, especially on PC. While I never finished Resident Evil VII, it was a standout title for VR and I think still is.

Honorable Mentions

I don’t have a ton to say about these three games, but I really enjoyed seeing them and the direction behind each title. Hitman III (trailer and gameplay) is not far off at all with a January 2021 release window. It also is the conclusion of this dope trilogy of Hitman games. IO Interactive is going to cook up some insane scenarios.

I’m glad to see Sony and Sumo Digital take on the Sackboy branding instead of Little Big Planet. Sackboy: A Big Adventure (trailer) appears to be a 3D platformer, instead of 2D. I’m curious what that means for level creation, if it exists at all in this game. I also wonder what style 3D platformer it will be. Level based or more open-world hub style? I’m leaning toward individual levels that explore mechanics and ideas.

I’m happy that Demon’s Souls (trailer) will no longer be locked to PS3 and that fans of the genre will finally have wider access to the game that kick started it all.

PS4 Backward Compatibility

The last point I wanted to touch on was actually what kicked off the entire show. There was a montage of big name PS4 games. While not as declarative as Microsoft’s messaging surrounding backward compatibility, this is certainly clearer than Sony’s original statements. This tells the consumer that you can play your PS4 games on PS5, don’t worry. It was a good way to open the show up.


The showing yesterday felt like E3. The excitement, energy, and discussion throughout the day was thrilling. It’s a feeling I’ve missed this year. I can’t wait to see what games Microsoft has cooked up in July.

PlayStation 5 Console Revealed

The day has finally come. Sony has revealed the PlayStation 5 console. It’s a slick, dual-toned console with a curvy elegance. Sony went bold, futuristic, and sleek.

There are two USB ports on the front; one USB Type-A and one Type-C. What I assume are the power and eject buttons are more prominent than their PS4 counterparts. Since the PS5 has already been confirmed to compatible with PS VR, there is hopefully another USB Type-A port on the back to keep that cable hidden. Can’t wait to get a look at the ports on the back of this thing.

I also can’t wait to learn about how this thing cools itself off. Mark Cerny directly talked about power consumption and heat in the Road to PS5 talk. The Xbox Series X looks like a beefy box when visually compared, but I am confident in its ability to keep cool. The PS5 seems to have dual vents, but I wonder what the system is. Cerny did tease that they came up with a unique solution.

Sony also revealed two versions of the PS5: One all digital and one with a 4K UHD disc drive. This ought to help keep the PS5 competitive with whatever price the Xbox Series X launches at.

Sony has made a great showcase today. Closing with the console design was a grand way to bring down the house. They’ve made up significant ground today in the next generation discussion.

Returning to Death Stranding Six Months Later

My relationship with Death Stranding is oddly circumstantial. I’ve been a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series since the 9th grade, which also made me a fan of series creator Hideo Kojima. His falling out with Konami is no secret and I was amped for his new project when it was announced for PS4. Then on October 13, 2019, just one month before Death Stranding (and when The Last of Us Part II was still scheduled for February), my PS4 Pro died. It was really terrible timing considering all the impending game releases and the fact that the PS5 would be launching in 2020. Not great timing at all.

But, I wanted to play those games at release, so I decided to buy the Death Stranding PS4 bundle along with the collector’s edition I had previous pre-ordered. I looked like a super fan walking out of Best Buy that night. After launch, I started playing the game and listening to the conversation surrounding it. Do we really walk/hike this much? Why do I have to hold the triggers down constantly? Are BTs really this frustrating to navigate around? What is this plot?

I remember hearing how long episode three was; how people were 20, 30, even 40 hours into the game and still in episode two. I remember Dan Ryckert, a staunch Metal Gear and Kojima lover, say he couldn’t believe Kojima made a bad and/or not fun game.This negative spin really shut me off to the game. I wasn’t feeling it. I put Death Stranding down.

I had a pretty high monetary investment into the game though. I also had daily reminders of it throughout my apartment. Besides the branding on the console, my wife Abby put the BB statue prominently on display atop our bookshelf, which is smack dab in the middle of our home. Friends would also ask where I was in the game; how was I enjoying it? I had to keep saying I put it down, but would return to it…someday.

After replaying all the Naughty Dog PS4 games and publishing Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era, I was in a gaming lull. I wasn’t really playing anything of my own accord while working on that story. My friends Logan and Mike encouraged me to go back to Death Stranding. So I did.

Death Stranding was exactly the game I needed to play right now. I also needed that six month gap. I needed the discourse surrounding Kojima’s first new IP in roughly 20 years to dissipate. With fresh eyes and plenty of time off, Death Stranding finally made sense for me to play.

The very first thing I did was tweak the difficulty settings and my play style. Why did I want to see this game through? I wanted to see Kojima’s story. So I dropped the difficulty from “Normal” to “Very Easy.” I wanted as little friction between me and the plot. On my end, I stopped trying to pick up miscellaneous packages: If it wasn’t on my path and wasn’t for my destination, I didn’t pick it up. No materials. No deliveries. I focused solely on the core objective of the current mission to push the story forward.

This immediately lifted off so much imaginary pressure. I knew every combat encounter would be a cake walk. Even if they were easy on “Normal,” I felt relieved knowing they would be so simple going forward. Typically in open-world games like this, I try to do most of the objectives. But I was having a miserable time doing so in Death Stranding; lumbering around with a pile of oddly shaped packages. With this new mindset, I had no qualms leaving packages to deteriorate in the rain.

Another personal adjustment was tweaking my play time. I wouldn’t play for more than 90 minutes at a time usually. I found that I felt pretty done with delivering after that amount of time. So I’d save and shut it down. There was zero urgency to beat the game as soon as possible to be a part of a conversation. That time passed. I was free of a social desire to be involved. The people I would want to talk about the game with anyway would be there when I beat it.

With these changes to my approach, I was able to wholly focus on the gameplay and story that Death Stranding was presenting me with.

As a kid, I loved maps and exploring outside. My room was map-themed with elements like a world map on the wall and globe rug. Video game maps are exciting to me. I love when physical maps are packed in like with Red Dead Redemption II or The Witcher 3. A huge factor in my love for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the ocean map and slowly filling it out over time. Firewatch still has some of the best map interaction around. I find maps and using them to navigate highly engaging.

I would also hike and explore woods near my home in Indiana. When I lived on St. John, the island forests were rich and dense. I read My Side of the Mountain and thought the main character Sam was living the dream.

Death Stranding’s core gameplay is a fusion of those two things. It involves studying the world map, filling in its edges by bringing locations onto the network. You plan routes, using markers to pepper the world with a digital overlay. Crevices and mountains force you to navigate around them or through them.

It reminds me of Lewis and Clark’s expedition west after the Louisiana Purchase. Land unexplored by Americans that was charted and navigated. They went coast-to-coast, along rivers and over mountains, and sent back things discovered along the way. Sam’s journey to reconnect America is similar in a basic premise.

More often than not, you have to go back-and-forth to delivery locations. Before returning to the game, I heard about climbing up a mountain repeatedly and how you’d have to cross the entire country at the end of the game. This filled my with a hardened weariness. But, when I actually got to these moments, I found them not as terrible as I presumed. I amped up the perceived terribleness so much during my six months off that I ended up finding these moments to be fair. Particularly the journey back across the America I had just finished connecting, I found it to be much shorter than I feared. I actually enjoyed it! I got to use my knowledge of the lands and routes that I had spent so much time navigating before to make for a swift trek.  Crossing a map that was once desolate and disjointed, but was now teeming with user-created shelter and tools was encouraging and uplifting. At the end of the game, when I passed a small sign that I had planted outside of the first city back in November, I had realized how far I had traveled and overcome; both in the game and in real life.

As for the story, the whole point I had in playing this game, it certainly has its own peaks and valleys. On the whole, the story is a wacky alternate future with super humans with gifts that are clearly birthed from the mind of Kojima. Some hit fine with me, like Fragile and Mama, others felt cramped or unfinished, like Deadman and Die-Hardman. Mads Mikkelsen’s role is the highlight, with a strong strand of intrigue to pull you along throughout the game. I was also quite fond of Norman Reedus’ role as Sam. Maybe it’s due to watching Norman portray Daryl on The Walking Dead for the past 10 years, but his performance as the loner turned hero came off to me as authentic and engaging.

The looming threat of the game though? Extremely frustrating. The world and its lore is dense and complex, built up in jam-packed, long cutscenes, particularly in the beginning, middle, and end of the journey. Kojima stacks all these fictional elements on top of one another until it all collapses at the very end; just like when I stacked too many packages on Sam’s pack and tried to climb a sheer cliff. The conflict’s resolution was particularly exacerbated.

The overarching (and often heavy handed) themes of connection, parenthood, duty, and knowledge have a clear point of inspiration. Kojima’s journey into independence from Konami. From the semi-public fallout, to the partnership with Sony, to founding his own studio, to picking a game engine from one of the PlayStation Studios, to the partnership with Guerrilla and the Decima engine, Death Stranding is Kojima’s story. The constant message of reconnecting people and sharing immense knowledge for the betterment of mankind comes from his experience and heart. The legacy and story of Death Stranding may never stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Metal Gear series, but it’s clear to me that it was the most personal story Kojima has told and was one he needed to tell in the medium he knows best.

Death Stranding is a game where Shigeru Miyamoto’s love for exploring became fused with Kojima’s wacky narrative and dedication to intricacy. It’s not a game for everyone. It was the game for me at this point in my life though. It was worth the wait, even if I came to the party six months late.

How Chasing the Stick was Made

This project expanded so fast that I think it never would have seen the light of day if I had planned out all this scope from the get go. What started out as an idea to just chronicle the history of one game turned into the history of four. I wish I had kept track of the time I spent on Chasing the Stick. I replayed Uncharted 2 through The Lost Legacy. I earned the platinum trophy in both The Lost Legacy and The Last of Us. All of the gameplay alone has to be around 100 hours. If playing games doesn’t really count in your book, then I know I spent months waking up early to work on the story before having to go to work. Researching articles, listening to interviews, watching documentaries, writing, rewriting, reading drafts out loud, editing, creating assets. I have easily spent hundreds of hours making this project come to life. I don’t say all this to brag: I think it is just super rad.

I wanted to share a behind-the-scenes post about the making of Chasing the Stick. I share all the apps I used, the locations I worked in, the tools I used, and creative decisions I made to make it a reality. Hopefully it answers any questions you may have.

Continue reading “How Chasing the Stick was Made”

PlayStation 5 Event Predictions

It is finally time for Sony to pull back the curtain on the PlayStation 5. After months of a drip feed, Sony is set to reveal PS5 games and footage this afternoon at 4:00 PM EST. Before any major event, I always love passing the time with predictions. It’s practically an essential element to any sort of reveal. Here are my predictions for today’s stream!

No Console, Price, or Date

Sony said the focus would be on games and I believe them. This is the most important element to a console. I think it is wise for Sony to try and make up some ground by focusing on games first. Microsoft’s primary focus has been hardware and features. They’ve done extremely well with that message. Focusing on games was a message that served Sony well with the PS4. It makes total sense to lean into that again.

We will see The Last of Us Part II and/or Ghost of Tsushima running on PS5

I think Sony will show PS4 games running on PS5 and that these are the candidates. Sony had terribly confusing messaging when discussing backward compatibility. Compared to Microsoft, it’s night and day. Sony needs to present a clear message on their backward compatibility plans.  These are the grand finale games for the PS4. There is plenty of excitement surrounding them and I think showing how games players will buy within the next month will be playable on their potential new console will be extremely positive.

New Batman Game is Properly Revealed

WB Montréal needs to just reveal the darn thing. Months of inconsistent teasing needs to end.

Playdead will Tease their New Game

I think this would be slick. We know that Playdead has been working on their next game for over three years. They also announced in March 2020 that they signed a publishing deal with Epic Games. Sony presumably paid Epic a ton of money for the Unreal Engine 5 reveal. There’s a working relationship there. Playdead’s previous games have been synonymous with Xbox at their respective launches. If Sony could associate Playdead’s third game with PS5, it would come off as a snag from Microsoft and as a win for indie game representation.

Horizon Zero Dawn Sequel is Revealed

I have thought for a long time, like many, that the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel will be a launch window PS5 game. I think it will be officially revealed today and be the prime example of PlayStation Studio games for the new console.

If Insomniac or Sony Santa Monic Studio show off new games, they will not be Marvel’s Spider-Man or God of War related

These are the games everyone wants to see. While, I would like Sony to continue the trend of revealing their projects early, I don’t see them revealing the current big three all at once. I think if Insomniac shows up with a new game we will see a Ratchet and Clank game. The PS4 remake was a blast and a new title (remake or entirely new) would fit in great as a launch title for both kids and adults.

As for Sony Santa Monica Studio, I just think it’s too early. They have been advertising jobs at a pace that feels fairly consistent since God of War’s release in 2018. God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man could be teased on the eve of the PS5 console launch, like Uncharted was for the PS4. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Can’t wait to see how right or wrong I am later this afternoon.

The Future of Xbox Isn’t Just a Console – Wired

The Future of Xbox Isn’t Just a Console: by Cecilia D’Anastasio for Wired

A good interview with Phil Spencer. It’s interesting that now both Sony and Microsoft have gone to Wired for exclusive next-gen console coverage.

“This world where the hardware you bought keeps us from being able to play together seems totally foreign in today’s world,” says Spencer, describing “walled gardens” as “such a 1990s construct.” (There’s arguably more in it for Xbox to want to tear down those boundaries; for a lot of gamers, Sony’s plot of land has more appealing exclusive games.)

A great point by Cecilia. While Microsoft went on a studio shopping spree and does have some fun exclusive titles, Sony has a much larger and arguably better catalog of exclusives. A game console is only as good as the games you can play on it. PlayStation exclusives are a tour de force for the console.

But movies, television, and music are all becoming more and more device-agnostic. Why not games?

“You and I might watch Netflix. I don’t know where you watch it, where I watch it, but we can have conversations about the shows we watch,” says Spencer. “I want gaming to evolve to that same level.”

The democratization of software via services has been a mission for Microsoft for years. Give everyone access to our software through services and subscriptions. Looking at Project XCloud and the recently announced Fluid Framework, it’s not hard to see where Microsoft wants the company to go in the future. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said that “the operating system is no longer the most important layer for us [Microsoft],” back in October 2019.

Xbox has the services in place. Xbox Live has been a gold standard of online gaming via console for nearly two decades. Now there is Xbox Game Pass which is a rotating library of games with Xbox’s own first party games being permanent additions. Project XCloud is actively in beta, which allows for players to stream their games—from either their own collection or Game Pass—to whatever screen supports the Project XCloud app.

What Xbox needs to expand is their library of games. They have strong titles like Halo, Forza, Fable, and more, but the Xbox One generation has felt lackluster compared to both Sony and Nintendo. This must be a huge factor in the decision to go buy studios and create some from scratch. It will take years to build up properly, but Microsoft is getting all their ducks in a row.

“I don’t think it’s ‘hardware agnostic’ as much as it’s ‘where you want to play,’” he [Phil] says.

I’m curious where the buck stops with this one. When will customers be able to play their Xbox games on their Nintendo Switch? What about PlayStation? Does the Xbox brand eventually become a service and game development brand? In a sense, does Xbox eventually become the next Sega; from console manufacturer to solely game development ?

“…I don’t think Xbox series X is our last console. I think we will do more consoles to make that great television play experience work and be delightful.”

I would agree with this notion. I think the streaming future is much further off than Google  would have you believe. The infrastructure is not up to snuff.

Microsoft’s next big event is happening in July. PlayStation is revealing games this Thursday, June 11. I wonder how the conversation will play out over the course of the next month.

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.

The Last of Us Part II: Accessibility Features Detailed – PlayStation.Blog

The Last of Us Part II: Accessibility Features Detailed – PlayStation.Blog

The Last of Us Part II features more than 60 accessibility settings, with expanded options focused on fine-motor and hearing, as well as completely new features that benefit low-vision and blind players. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these features to create a gameplay experience that’s right for them.

Even more in-depth details on the accessibility features in the The Last of Us Part II. There are fully settings for customizable controls, visibility, motion sickness, navigation, audio, and more. It is incredible to see these types of features built-in from the ground up for such a huge AAA game. Naughty Dog seems to be raising yet another bar here.

My personal favorite line in the break down though was this.

Trophies are not limited by difficulty.

Fantastic.

The Last Of Us Part II: how Naughty Dog made a masterpiece – Sam White

The Last Of Us Part II: how Naughty Dog made a masterpiece by Sam White for GQ

UPDATE 12:05 PM: GQ has changed the headline from “The Last Of Us Part II: how Neil Druckmann made a masterpiece,” replacing Neil’s name with Naughty Dog. I agree with the correction since hundreds of people made this game. I have updated my headline to reflect their correction.

Sam White has spent the last two years behind-the-scenes with Neil Druckmann, Halley Gross, and Naughty Dog while they made The Last of Us Part II. Sam got to tell the side of this story that I could not with my history of the game’s development and Naughty Dog as a whole.

Sam told a side I wanted to tell.

Sam’s feature offers insight into the minds of the team. It is an emotional look at the past two years of development. There are tons of good quotes. I’ll leave most of my favorites at the end of this article. One in particular though, captured the spirit and inspiration behind Chasing the Stick.

Part II uses interactivity to create a story not possible in TV, books or film and something not explored in this way in video games. You are Ellie and you’ll commit acts you feel repulsed by. Throughout the course of the story you’ll begin to question some characters you loved and begin to empathise with characters you hated. But therein lies the point. Druckmann hopes he’s found a way of communicating what he felt – a young boy, traumatised in front of his TV; a grown man reflecting on his past – to players in their living rooms, all through the buttons on your PlayStation controller.

Video games have powerful potential due to their interactive nature.

Thank you Sam for telling the side of the story I could not. I hope I can tell a similar story someday.


…no, we’re gonna double down and we’re gonna expose what this ending means. To take some of the things that people hold sacred and just… dismantle it.”

Technology, DIY and blind faith – that, I learn, is video game development. To make a game like this, Naughty Dog has spent the past four years on and off Sony’s performance capture stage. The Godfather Part II was shot in eight months; Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, one of the most expensive productions in Netflix’s history, shot in 108 days.

Gross eventually gave up deleting the abuse she was receiving on Instagram. They have competitions to see who’s getting the worse flak. He usually wins. As for the other developers, the mood at the studio was low. One team member described the situation to me as “a nightmare”. Another told me it was like getting repeatedly punched. As the online abuse intensified, one of the game’s actors received death threats against their family. Druckmann’s confidence, he tells me, was “shot”.

“As you start wrapping things up, creatively there are fewer and fewer responsibilities and my mind can’t help but think about the next thing,” he says. “So, yeah, the next thing could be a Part III, the next thing could be some new IP.” Ultimately, the best idea wins.

PlayStation 5 Games Reveal Rescheduled for this Thursday, June 11

UPDATED TIME: This Thursday, See the Future of Gaming on PS5 – PlayStation.Blog

Hi all – thanks for being patient and understanding while we rescheduled this PS5 event for Thursday, June 11 at 1pm Pacific Time / 9pm BST. We needed to step aside so key voices could be heard during this historic and important time.

The original broadcast was scheduled for June 4 at the same time. It was postponed due to the protests happening nationwide

Now that the event is confirmed for June 11, I wanted to add that this pre-taped program will be broadcast at 1080p and 30 frames per second. This eased the show’s production process during a time when many of our team and developers are working from home. The games you’ll see on Thursday will look even better when you play them on PS5 with a 4K TV, as you’d expect. 

It’s also best if you watch while wearing headphones, if you can — there’s some cool audio work in the show, and it might be harder to appreciate if it’s pumped through your phone or laptop speakers.

I am pumped to finally see some PS5 games in action. I think it is quite smart of them to tease cool audio work via headphones. This is a main feature of the PS5 and to offer some sort of tease for that tech is the right move. 

As for the resolution and frame rate, full 4K versions of the footage will probably be released after the stream. Nothing to worry about there. Let the next gen cycle begin!