The Last of Us Renewed for Season 2

HBO’s The Last of Us has officially been renewed for a second season by Andy Robinson for Video Games Chronicle

Not surprising considering the week-over-week growth, but I am happy to see it confirmed. So much of Part II hinges on gameplay doing the storytelling. I am curious how they will adapt the game for one(?) season of TV. That’s a lot of story, emotion, and range to cover in 10~ episodes.

Don’t Forget Bruce

How ‘The Last of Us’ changed gaming, strained relationships and spawned an empire by Todd Martens for Los Angeles Times via Video Games Chronicle

Straley’s relationship with Sony and Naughty Dog has since become strained. Straley left Naughty Dog not long after the release of 2016’s “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End,” before HBO was involved in a “Last of Us” series, and is not credited on the HBO series. He is working these days on building his own studio, Wildflower Interactive. He says the lack of credit has made him think more about workers’ rights in the video game space. “It’s an argument for unionization that someone who was part of the co-creation of that world and those characters isn’t getting a credit or a nickel for the work they put into it,” he says. “Maybe we need unions in the video game industry to be able to protect creators.” HBO and Sony declined to comment on the record.

This was the excerpt that got me to read the article. In the years since Bruce’s departure, I noticed he is rarely referred to as the co-creator of The Last of Us. It feels like sometimes Bruce is forgotten. He was vital to the creation. It bums me out to not see him credited as the co-creator on the show or mentioned in interviews. Props to Todd for talking with Bruce for this piece.

It was all in the name of fostering intimacy, both in the game’s quiet moments and its savage ones, says Bruce Straley, the game’s director and one of its key world builders. One of Straley’s central directorial objectives is for the player never to set down the controller — that is, to avoid long cinematic scenes in which the player has nothing to do. “The Last of Us” has its share of those, but by and large they’re unexpectedly brief and often interrupted with opportunities to guide the character or to initiate an optional conversation.

“The goal was pretty evolutionary,” Straley says. “As Neil and I were talking about the world and the characters, there was an energy in the room between us as to what type of experience this had the possibility of creating. … This was a game we hadn’t played that we wanted to play. The concept of creating a relationship between two characters that evolves over the course of the game — that’s fully playable — and that got the players more involved with those characters than any other game had before, that was really exciting for us.”

Story telling on the stick. It’s kind of their thing.

This further adds to the game’s pressure. Unlike a TV series or film, in “The Last of Us” game we’re often confined to Joel or Ellie’s point of view, depending on which character we are navigating at the time. As we propel them forward through the narrative, we acknowledge that they may be making choices we disagree with, even as we’re the ones leading them in and out of obstacles. This is the beauty of interactive entertainment: dialogue with those characters whom we are steering through the world.

👀

“I invited Neil to see ‘No Country for Old Men,’ and I remember walking out of the theater and telling him, breathlessly, ‘I’ve never played a game that had that kind of tension in it before,’” Straley says. “The street fight in ‘No Country’ was one of the most intense fights I had seen on film, and I wondered if you could play something that had that level of groundedness to it, that intensity. There’s something primal to having the controller in your hand and being in the world. Most fighting games at the time had pulled-out cameras where you saw hordes of 20-30 (non-playable characters) that you just plow through.”

I look back to the lodge fight with David as their original attempt to capture this energy. I wonder how that scene will come off in the show. The Last of Us excels at making a few enemies feel more powerful and terrifying than tons.

The Last of Us Ep. 2 – “Infected” Thoughts & Impressions

I was excited to watch this week’s episode because it was Neil Druckmann’s (television) directorial debut. I wanted to see how his style would translate from the world of games to TV. This episode was primed for big moments like the reveal of the Clickers and the death of Tess.

The connecting fiber of this episode is the idea of a second chance. Tess sees Ellie’s immunity has a chance for redemption. Joel and Ellie take a second shot at introductions. The biggest second chance though occurs off screen with Neil and the team having the opportunity to recontextualize the world for TV.

We see this at the start of the episode with the cold open set in Jakarta, Indonesia at the onset of the outbreak. Leveraging the ability to tell the story away from Joel or Ellie’s perspective, the show explains the origin of the cordyceps infection. We are shown how terrifying the revelation of the mutation is when a humble professor1 does not hesitate to recommend bombing an entire city in an attempt to eradicate the fungus. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. Demolishing a city is the best defense against this creature.

This intro scene is a solid foundation that the episode builds upon. The bombings in Boston are now given a human backstory. They weren’t the decision at the end of a struggle, but the first response. We witness the inception. This also lends itself to seriousness and rarity of Ellie’s immunity. Up until her, there has been no chance for a vaccine. As someone that has played the game countless times, it’s easy to wave off Ellie’s resistance. This episode reminded me how vital her life would be for all of mankind. And it is portrayed against Tess’ own demise in deft fashion.

Tess has a strong episode. Her interactions with Ellie are a treat. She acts as a teacher for both Ellie and the audience. We see the two of them begin a bond, while Joel maintains his distance. Tess’ big moment is her death though, which has been completely altered from the game and for the better.

When Ellie was bitten for the second time, I nearly rolled my eyes. “This is how we will prove to people she is immune every time it comes up?” We see Ellie sick of proving her immunity in her first scene of the episode. I was feeling the same way. But having Ellie and Tess bitten at the same time reaffirms the reality of Ellie’s gift and gives Tess something to anchor to in the storm that is her impending death.

This episode made me a believer in the switch to tendrils. Tess’ actual death scene feeds back into a teaching moment she had earlier in the episode. Joel steps on a life line to the cordyceps, waking up the writhing horde we from the hotel roof. They sprint toward our heroes’ destination. The hive mind nature of the cordyceps amplifies the fear. We see the monsters welcome a new member as the one approaches and kisses Tess with a mouthful of tentacles. It’s horrific and consuming. Tess fumbling with the lighter before blowing them all to smithereens is way cooler than her popping off a couple shots at the FEDRA agents in the game.

Overall, “Infected” was strong because of the changes made for television. The medium was effectively leveraged to enrich the world. We see scenes interconnect to create a stronger, cohesive narrative that feeds back into the core duo. After this one (and the growth in viewership), its not hard to see why Season 2 was green lit this week.


That review took longer than I ever wanted. I’ve been sick since last Friday and it knocked me on my butt all week. Sickness is the worst form of writer’s block. After Sunday night though, I knew I wanted to focus on how the game world was recontextualized for TV.

Continuing from last week, I had plenty of observations that I wanted to mention that didn’t fit within the focus of the strict review.

  • The opening scene with Ellie, Tess, and Joel has a shot where Ellie is bathed in light and Joel is covered in darkness.2 Tess is kneeling and looking up at Ellie. Just a beautiful shot that portrays the trio’s entire dynamic.
  • The set design is immaculate. The fungal webs, the decayed city of Boston, and the way nature has reclaimed it is just how one would imagine it.
    • Speaking of set design, they absolutely recreated the hotel lobby from Pittsburgh. I was stunned. I wonder how much was a set and how much was digitally made. I wish there was time for Joel to comment on missing coffee, but we haven’t quite earned that personal insight for his character yet.
  • Ellie’s repeated asking for a gun helps establish a baseline for when she actually gets one. Excited to see those moments pay off.
  • Just wait until season 2 shows off a super infected that blows up spores at our heroes.
  • Neil’s directorial debut for TV was well done. Fear is established. I thought the use of hand cam shots mirrored that you might find on the mocap stage. We’ll see how much that type of camera work is used throughout the season or if I’m just making an arbitrary connection.
  • Speaking of fear, the two Clickers were executed perfectly. From the prosthetics to ripping the assault rifle out of Joel’s hands, they were represented beautifully. Two have so much power. Tess and Joel going silent in the museum was gripping.
  • Tess asked Joel to get Ellie to Bill and Frank’s so that they could finish the mission of delivering Ellie. This feels strange. Bill the recluse never struck me as a character that would freely take a girl across the country. With Frank being cast and in this adaption, the next episode will surely be the biggest departure from the game to date.
  • The closing song is “Allowed to be Happy” from The Last of Us Part II. This is the kind of change from the original game we need to hear more of. Gustavo’s music is a triumph.

1. The way her hand shakes at the news of the missing people was spine-tinglingly good.

2. I would have taken a screenshot of the this exact moment, but DRM really hates the idea you’d share a still image from a TV show or movie. You’d think Hollywood would want the free promotion.
Update: You don’t wanna know the daisy-chain it took to get this screenshot. I tweaked the color slightly to better see Joel, since the capture is accurate. If only there were official means to take screenshots of shows and movies.

The Last of Us Ep. 1 – “When You’re Lost in the Darkness” Thoughts & Impressions

We have entered the PlayStation era of television. What was once the swan song of the PS3 is now leading a flock of games-to-television adaptions. The bar has been set high by a multitude of factors. The Last of Us games are two of the highest rated games of all time. The show is apart of HBO’s premium lineup, with leading Game of Thrones alum to boot.

There is quite a bit riding on the wings of The Last of Us‘ success, not just for Naughty Dog, HBO, etc., but for the future direction of PlayStation as a whole. With four movies and three TV shows in the works, ranging from Twisted Metal to God of War to Horizon, PlayStation is investing in expanding their IP outside of video games.

I mention all this to convey one thing—pressure. The Last of Us has never known life without pressure. It was a gamble for Naughty Dog to split in to two teams at peak popularity. After smashing every goalpost, work on the sequel began. That development was long and filled with strife as the team chased ambition with a bold, divisive story and gameplay direction. Now there is the studio’s first standalone multiplayer game, also set in the world of fungi, and the rumored Part III. And now this television adaption is shouldering a part of this legacy.

Pressure.

In the world of the game/show, Joel doesn’t know life without pressure. A single-father raising a daughter, only to have her ripped away at the beginning of a global pandemic. An older brother trying to help and keep the younger alive. A smuggler dancing the delicate line of staying out trouble and staying aloft. And at the end of episode one, a man charged with delivering the cure of the disease to the Massachusetts State House.

Pressure.

All of the main characters in the show life under pressure. Sarah worries for an overworked father struggling to makes ends meet. Tess is trying to keep her and Joel alive. Robert tries to sell bad merchandise–twice. Marlene is leading a failing rebellion when the possible cure falls into her hands. Ellie is charged with knowledge and a secret.

Pressure.

To top it all off, there’s the expectation put there by the world, the fans, and myself. Expectation is dangerous. If there is too much and the whole thing will be crushed; too little and it can swell to impossible size the next time around. Expectation can get the better of all those involved.

Pressure.

Despite all of this weighing down on the franchise, the companies, the creativity, and (most importantly) the people involed, the first episode does not crack. The tone, emotional, and captivation are all there. It’s a strong start, but that’s just where we’re at—the start. I was eager to watch it all unfold before the premiere, but now I am even more so. I hope the expectation doesn’t get the better of me.


So, that wasn’t the direction I envisioned taking that review, but here we are! My personal goal is to review each episode this season. I’ve never reviewed a TV show (in the traditional manner), so I thought this would be a good creative exercise for the year. I know the review above doesn’t dig into the episode itself, so I wanted a list of the bits and bobs I noticed in the episode. I may do this with each episode. We’ll see.

  • Poor Jimmy was rewritten to be the owner of the burning farm, rather than the neighbor that turns.
  • I had not heard that spores were swapped with tendrils. I’m not thrilled with this decision from a artistic perspective, but I do understand the logic behind it. The clouds of spores offer such a visually striking opportunity. The gas masks are gritty and it provides an in-world way to convey Ellie’s immunity to other characters without having to explain the whole scar. On the other side though, animating tendrils in the video game would have been way harder than spore clouds. The inverse applies to the show, the spore clouds would keep things foggy and hide actors’ faces, while tendrils provide a spooky visual that conveys danger. C’est la vie.
  • The makeup and site design are spot on. The infected caked in the wall is stunning. I cannot wait to see Clickers next week.
  • I loved the twitchy, fast nature of the Runners. Feels like the right adaption of them to film.
  • Marlene and Ellie’s relationship has been (at least so far) fundamentally changed. In the game and the comic, Ellie has known Marlene her whole life. It’s no mystery to Ellie why she is in the FEDRA school/orphanage. Marlene stills knows Ellie in this adaption, but I feel like keeping Ellie in the dark her whole life until this immunity revelation robs Ellie of that direct line to her mother. It isolates her and her drive to do good in an effort to make her mother Anna and Marlene proud.
  • Having a truck battery be the merchandise from Robert is better than weapons we never see. It ties into the motivation in Bill’s Town (assuming the show sticks with that) and with Marlene’s need to get out of the city. It’s more cohesive.
  • Joel is the little spoon.
  • Tess came off as subdued to me. She wasn’t as powerful as her in-game incarnation. The show has her a prisoner of Robert at the start. The game, Tess was no one’s prisoner and was a far clearer leader in the community. This version is more broken and therefore probably more human. It may grow on me here, but how much time do they really have left?
  • Bella Ramsey nails Ellie. Her delivery of a few lines got me to laugh out loud. Captivating performance and introduction. Excited to see her’s and Ellie’s range be explored.
  • Joel was the character I had the most issues with. Pedro is fantastic; all my nitpicks stem from their reworking off the character.
    • Joel has clear ties to Tommy still. Heck, his drive to leave Boston in the first place is to go save Tommy. Their falling out in the game is a creative void were the player imagination soars. How dark was the time for Joel as a Hunter that it drove Tommy away? Now, I’m not sure how fractured their relationship is, especially if Tommy is at least checking in with his brother. It’s different. We’ll see how it pays off.
    • I don’t care for Joel drinking and taking drugs. This is a clear break for me from the game where he doesn’t “want…one” when Tess offers whiskey. This feels like a crutch to convey sad dad energy. Joel was absorbed in his own depression just fine in the game. I wouldn’t surprise me if Joel did have a substance abuse issue in the past of the game, but not partaking conveys a much lonelier place and the show has lost that.
    • The snapping and murder of the guard also felt out of touch with the source material. I do appreciate the situational PTSD and conveying that. It works for the show. But Joel defending Ellie felt too soon and conveys to the audience care for the girl he shouldn’t quite have yet. Perhaps they’ll weave more PTSD scenarios that help Ellie peel back Joel’s layers. It is certainly a change forced by being an adaption. Now, we need to see how they leverage the medium.

The Last of Us Multiplayer Game is going to Pop Off

Neil Druckmann Explains Why Naughty Dog Hasn’t Revealed Next PS5 Game Yet [Exclusive] by Logan Moore for Comicbook.com

My good friend and co-host Logan Moore interviewed Neil Druckmann and Merle Dandridge for the HBO show The Last of Us. Logan took a shot to ask about why so mum on new projects over at Naughty Dog. I was interested in what Neil said, in particular, what he said about the multiplayer game.

Neil: You know, we did mention that there is a Last of Us multiplayer project that we’ve been working on, for a long time, since even before The Last of Us Part II shipped. And that’s our most ambitious project we’ve ever done which is like, you know, expanding the world even further, continuing to tell a story, but in a multiplayer space. I won’t say too much about that.

The timeline makes sense, considering the multiplayer was originally supposed to launch as a part of The Last of Us Part II. It splintered off after the scope grew beyond an additional mode. This line on storytelling in a multiplayer setting has been the teams’ goal for over five years now.

"We wanted to address multiplayer in The Last of Us Part II. As we’ve stated, the single-player campaign is far and away the most ambitious project Naughty Dog has ever undertaken. Likewise, as development began on the evolution of our Factions mode from The Last of Us Part I, the vision of the team grew beyond an additional mode that could be included with our enormous single-player campaign. Wanting to support both visions, we made the difficult choice that The Last of Us Part II would not include an online mode.

However, you will eventually experience the fruits of our team’s online ambition, but not as part of The Last of Us Part II. When and where it will be realized is still to be determined. But rest assured, we are as big a fan of Factions as the rest of our community and are excited to share more when it’s ready.”

*Italics added

Bruce Straley would even chime in via Twitter on the next day. Straley said he knows the ambition of both the single-player and multiplayer for The Last of Us Part II and the separation and delay for Factions would be worth the wait.

Naughty Dog themselves provided an inkling of what that ambition was in a multiplayer design pitch video they published in October 2017, well into the development of The Last of Us Part II.

“What we don’t want is multiplayer to feel like a mode. We want it to be almost its own game—its own experience. It might start with an idea world or an idea of a mechanic or, even more recently, a certain feeling that we’re after. And then we will explore, okay, ‘what kind of world can evoke that feeling? What kind of mechanics can evoke that feeling? What kind of psychological situations can we put multiple people in that speak back to the theme that we’re after,’” Druckmann said.

When I hear them pursuing a certain feeling, it takes me back to the original Factions multiplayer when the game launched. The multiplayer excelled at creating tension. When thinking about Naughty Dog’s driving force of connecting the player to a story and experience through the controller, it’s easy and exciting to entertain all the possibilities.

Sorry for the long quote from Chasing the Stick, but this is the vibe Naughty Dog is aiming for with this new multiplayer game. I’d wager this game has cutscenes, set pieces, the whole shebang that Naughty Dog is known for. They are going big with this one. Don’t underestimate it.

History is Repeating Itself

How ‘The Last of Us’ Plans to Bring the Zombie Genre Back to Life by James Hibberd for The Hollywood Reporter via Tom Ivan at Video Games Chronicle

As for this show’s ending, expect the debut season to cover the entirety of the Last of Us game. Druckmann and Mazin hint — but don’t outright say — that their second season will cover the table-flipping narrative of Naughty Dog’s bold Part II sequel (“I don’t like filler,” Mazin says). Part II cannot be described without spoilers, but it caused such an uproar that Druckmann received death threats.

Likewise, Druckmann cannot reveal whether a rumored Part III game from Naughty Dog is coming, but says: “I think there’s more story to tell.” Either way, Druckmann isn’t worried about falling into the same trap faced by Game of Thrones, when the HBO drama famously surpassed author George R.R. Martin’s source material. “We have no plans to tell any stories beyond adapting the games,” he says. “We won’t run into the same issue as Game of Thrones since Part II doesn’t end on a cliffhanger.”

This sounds familiar.

After the release of Left Behind, Druckmann and Straley had a brief opportunity to kick around new ideas. One of these was a sequel to The Last of Us. Druckmann had actually pitched the idea for the sequel to Ashley Johnson, the actress who plays Ellie, when pitching the story of Left Behind, which presumably happened back in 2013. By the time Left Behind was done, Druckmann claimed it was a “50/50” shot that there would be a sequel during a reddit AMA.

In an interview with Laura Hudson for Wired that focused on Left Behind, Druckmann was more open about the ideas floating around in his head for a potential sequel. This interview was published on February 18, 2014, just four days after Left Behind released.

“I still have this script written, this story about Ellie’s mom [for] an animated short we were going to do, but it fell through. I’d love for that to see the light of day sometime, maybe as a DLC or a comic book,” Druckmann said. “We’re brainstorming the next [Naughty Dog] project right now; some of the ideas are sequel ideas and some are brand-new IP. We’re just trying to see where our passions lie. Is there more to do here [in The Last of Us] both on a mechanical level or a narrative level, so we’re not repeating ourselves? Or is it [sic] this a good point to say goodbye to the characters in this world? It’s a very heavy decision, because whichever direction we go in commits us for the next three to four years. So we’re going to take several weeks to make that decision.”

I have no doubts that The Last of Us Part III is in the works at Naughty Dog.

The Last of Us Multiplayer Game Drip Feed Keeps on Dripping

Reflecting on a Big Year to Come for The Last of Us by Neil Druckmann for Naughty Dog

We’re looking ahead to The Last of Us’ 10th anniversary in June, and we’re so excited to share more with you about the future of this franchise. We’ll have some fun surprises for you along the way, but later this year we will begin to offer you some details on our ambitious The Last of Us multiplayer game. With a team led by Vinit Agarwal, Joe Pettinati, and Anthony Newman, the project is shaping up to be a fresh, new experience from our studio, but one rooted in Naughty Dog’s passion for delivering incredible stories, characters, and gameplay. We first shared concept art of the project with you last year, and we hope this new piece of concept art below further excites you for what our team is working on.

The cruise ship reminds me of one of Naughty Dog’s biggest and best set pieces: the cruise ship in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. That is another fine level that showcases the art of escalation in glorious fashion.

These two pieces of concept art give a vibe, sure, but we are getting to the point where I’d like to see and know more. This a problem Naughty Dog is combating. They no longer want to announce games years in advance. Like I mentioned last week and back in June 2020, the turnaround from announcement to release got way out of hand with the studio.

The cloud looming over this multiplayer game was that it was an assumed component of The Last of Us Part II. Then Naughty Dog confirmed its existence and its removal from the game—at the same time. The team is not ready to show it off, but they need to keep the drip going to maintain awareness and excitement. I just hope the next time they talk about the game, we get footage and a proper name.

The Last of Us Surpasses 37 Million in Sales

Reflecting on a Big Year to Come for The Last of Us by Neil Druckmann for Naughty Dog

We are so proud to share that the entire The Last of Us franchise has sold through more than 37 million copies globally as of December 2022, and is continuing to reach new and old players every day.

I wonder what the split is on the three (soon to be four) platform versions of the first game and Part II. We know as of October 2019, that The Last of Us had sold 20 million copies. We also know that Part II sold 10 million units as of Spring 2022. I suppose the only unknown is how much of the remaining 7 million is the Part I remake for PS5. Very curious to see how the TV show impacts future sales too.

Naughty Dog’s Next Game has a Writer’s Room

Can “The Last of Us” Break the Curse of Bad Video-Game Adaptations? by Alex Barasch for The New Yorker

[Neil Druckmann’s] next project, he revealed, was a game that was “structured more like a TV show” than anything else Naughty Dog had made—for which he’d taken a highly unusual step. He wasn’t writing the script alone, or with a single partner. He was assembling a writers’ room.

I was reading Alex’s story, snipping out quotes I wanted to share here, when his closing paragraph just casually name drops Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann’s next game that’s (probably) not the The Last of Us multiplayer game. When you take this quote and pair it with the rumors a couple weeks ago that The Last of Us Part III is Neil’s next game and is in production, the ideas begin-a spinning.

“Structured more like a TV show” is a bucket of a phrase that carries possibilities and implications. Would it be more segmented than the hard split Part II adopts? What’s the player perspective? How could this approach be applied to the “on the stick” storytelling? Is it all just a fancy way of saying we hired a lot of writers for this game?

As intriguing as Neil’s statement is, there’s no real direction to be gleaned from it without confirmation of the project. The big difference between last gen and this gen I suspect will be Naughty Dog’s zipped muzzle when it comes to what they are working on. The time between announcement and release for The Last of Us Part II was just under 1,300 days. In contrast, The Last of Us Part I was 86 days.1 I think both Naughty Dog and Sony prefer the shorter turnaround in the public eye.

The HBO show is just two weeks away. I wonder what other TLOU-related things will emerge throughout 2023.

Update: Neil apparently tweeted about it too. Here’s what he said:

I’m sure no one will misconstrue what this means! 😂

(Spoiler: it’s about making our games in an even more collaborative manner! Stoked to show you our projects as soon as we can!)

This shows that Naughty Dog is staying tight-ish lipped with their games. Collaboration helped make Part II the masterpiece it became. More collaboration can elevate whatever game the studio is making. I look forward to learning what this all means.


1. I get that Part I is a remake, so that alone lends itself to shorter turnaround out in public. And that it started out as a project outside of Naughty Dog. The real barometer will be the gap between announcement and release for the multiplayer game. It was either announced on Sept. 26, 2019 – when Naughty Dog confirmed that Part II would have no Factions mode – or on June 9, 2022 alongside Part I. The clock is ticking.

The Last of Us Part III Rumored to be in Production

Well, I’m not watching anything, so… Dr. Uckmann’s next game is THE LAST OF US PART III which is currently in production at Naughty Dog.

@ViewerAnon on Twitter

This rumor hit the web last night and was quickly shared with me.

This isn’t terribly surprising news, if it is true. Naughty Dog has made distinct trilogies since Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation; often paired with some fourth adjacent game. Through the PS2 generation, those fourth titles were racing games—Crash Team Racing and Jak X: Combat Racing. This trilogy approach changed with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and a spin-off with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on PlayStation 4.

The Last of Us seemed to always have an air of finality with each of its two core entries though. While producing a third game is par for the course for Naughty Dog, the studio could break that cycle with Joel and Ellie without the story being unresolved.

With the TV show just a month away and the long-awaited multiplayer game still in production, it makes sense to make a Part III. The team is in the cordyceps zone, so to speak. And since the multiplayer game will have a live service element to it, I would suspect that game will have a healthy life up through the release of the threequel.

Color me excited if this pans out (which I suspect it will). The Last of Us iron is only getting hotter. While there is fatigue from Naughty Dog sticking with the same IP for three generations, if they have a story they find compelling and the drive to bring to life, I have faith in the team to create another engaging story that is told on the stick.

Comparing The Last of Us Part I Gameplay to the Original

Here is 4K60 gameplay from the PS5 remake.

And here is the same portion of gameplay at 720p on the PS3.

Let’s not forget the PS4 remaster at 1080p either.

I find the most powerful element from this Part I footage to be that the game looks like I remember it. But when you go back thirteen years to the Cell processor and see what it actually looked like…The Last of Us in 2013 is a testament to the immersive “on the stick” design that Naughty Dog strives for.

Side Note: Listen with headphones if you can. Some of the 3D audio design comes through as well.

The Last of Us Devs Bet Big on Accessibility – Jen Glennon

The Last of Us devs bet big on accessibility — and made a better game by Jen Glennon for Inverse

“The technology and features of one game are often very easy to port over to another game,” says Schatz. “So some of our biggest tasks, like text-to-speech — we’ve done it now. So that investment in our future is now paying off in that way. We can put those features into The Last of Us Part I.”

The work put into accessibility in The Last of Us Part II has begun to reap benefits with subsequent Naughty Dog games. With The Last of Us Part I a week away, part of the press tour is promoting and discussing the near identical feature set between the two games. Some of the features even surpass Part II’s offerings, like the full audio descriptions during cutscenes.

This flag planted for accessibility has marked all Naughty Dog games going forward. Major regressions in these support features going forward would be a loss. It has also raised the bar for other developers. I’ve noticed other PlayStation Studios putting emphasis on their accessibility features. Microsoft has also led the way with first-party games and their accessibility controller.  I hope the trend continues.

I wonder what the feature slate will be for the Factions multiplayer game from Naughty Dog, considering its presumed online nature.

In Schatz and Gallant’s view, the most innovative games in the coming five to 10 years will likely take more of a less-is-more approach, refining a more personalized approach to interaction rather than focusing on flashy visuals or superfluous embellishments.

“We’ve reached a point in game design where everything is maximal. I think there’s a lot of innovation in the future in paring that down,” says Schatz. “Do we really need to use all these controls? What do we get out of a minimalist experience, where we’re just pressing one thing? I’m really looking forward to evolving toward more intentional design in all sorts of ways.”

This reminds me of Journey. Two buttons and two control sticks make up the control scheme for one of gaming’s absolute best.

Update: Not five minutes after pressing “publish,” PlayStation released an Accessibility trailer for Part I.