But the important takeaway is that these mechanics felt appropriate – there was no dilution of the formula as a result. Naughty Dog didn’t shoehorn in mechanics for the sake of ticking a box, which is something we’ve seen too much of recently in other titles. With Uncharted, we don’t need upgradable weapons, hours of exploration, crafting, or survival mechanics like cooking. There’s merit in the manner in which Naughty Dog demonstrated an understanding of that. Uncharted is Indiana jones action, The Last Of Us is Walking Dead survival horror; some mechanics are interchangeable, others are not. That might seem obvious, but at the same time, it would have been all too easy to start including a host of more detailed RPG systems to bulk out Uncharted’s gameplay.
We’ve seen other developers do that in the past, with mixed results. The key is to have focus, a principle that the game is based around, and the insertion of some of The Last Of Us‘ mechanics over others suggests the developer have a keen grasp of that sentiment. And, indeed, the way in which Naughty Dog have demonstrated consistency is a comforting indication that The Last Of Us Part II is in danger of trying to be too many things at once.
Yet, surely the big talking point is how the team will go about tackling a fitting narrative for The Last Of Us Part II. And now we know, at last, that Ellie and Joel are making a comeback. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s a tale of revenge. Ellie’s on a mission this time around, and the Fireflies are the target. Some years later, too, based on the fact that Ellie looks noticeably older, but we’ve no idea whether the narrative will time hop, as it did in the original game, or whether it’s based on a shorter duration. Either way, I’m of the opinion that the basing the game around the same two characters was absolutely the right call.
While others might not agree, given the way that Ellie and Joel’s story ended on such a poignant note in the last game, I’d argue Ellie and Joel are the defining aspects of The Last Of Us. Sure, the game’s world, the factions and creatures that inhabit it, and the themes the game touched on are all important, but Joel and Ellie’s relationship was what was special about the first game, and the sequel wouldn’t be complete without them.