What We Want And What We Know: Dissecting The Last Of Us Part II

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What We Know: Neil Druckmann Is Writing The Story

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Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief: Neil Druckmann is writing and directing this new installment – and as the person responsible for Part I, as well as the fantastic Uncharted 4, that can only be a good thing. The bad news? His co-director and writer, Bruce Straley, is on a year-long sabbatical.

The best writers often come in teams and if Straley was instrumental in the success of the previous title, his absence could be felt keenly. Anyone remember True Detective season 1 versus 2? Exactly.

But I’m cautiously optimistic on this one. Druckmann seems to have the skill and foresight to recognize what makes his games so deliciously different: they’re about real people that we can empathize with. And to date, he’s been darn good at bringing those sorts of people to life.

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What We Want: Emotional Connections

Part I of The Last of Us was a fantastic action game. But it was also a very moving story about two ordinary people stuck in extraordinary circumstances, and in following Ellie and Joel through many months of hardship, we learned to care about their blossoming friendship. Over the course of a sixteen-hour story, we laughed beside them and empathized with their painfully human foibles. They seemed to be like you or me: with fears, hang-ups and genuine personalities.

There’s no doubt the dynamic between the pair – a surly older man paired to a optimistic teenage girl – worked beautifully. Now that Ellie’s grown up and her youthful exuberance has seemingly faded, how will the dynamic change? Will Ellie be the key to Joel’s salvation, as he grows old, weak and tired?  The shifting focus presents enticing new moral dilemmas, but also the chance to examine a relationship subtly changing before our eyes.

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