You read that right: The Last of Us 2 is in development, and on its way in the coming year. The release date isn't quite pinned down – though Gamescom 2019 could correct that for us – but there's still plenty of rumors about when it might land, covered in the article below.
As endings go, The Last of Us's was pretty conclusive. But as it turns out, that hasn't stopped The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog from cranking out a sequel in the form of The Last of Us 2 – or, The Last of Us Part II if we're using its proper name.
Given the first game was hailed by players and critics alike as a masterpiece with excellent, emotional storytelling and engaging, realistic characters, we have to admit that the decision to release a follow-up isn't particularly shocking. We'd probably have been more surprised if there wasn't one. And yet, when The Last of Us 2 was first announced, we'd be lying if we said our hearts didn't skip a beat.
The Last of Us 2 was first announced by Naughty Dog at PlayStation Experience in 2016 alongside a teaser trailer and the last significant news drop around the game came at E3 2018. As we're now well into 2019, we're now hoping to hear an official release date any day now.
And it really could be any day - after Sony decided to bow out of E3 2019 it's become increasingly hard to predict when news around the game could drop. Regardless, as this year goes on it's looking increasingly likely that we'll have to wait until late 2019 or maybe even 2020 before we join Ellie in her new adventure.
[Update: Troy Baker has been talking about The Last of Us Part 2 at Manchester Comic Con. Read on to find out what he had to say.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic game The Last of Us
- When can I play it? It’ll be a while from now, late 2019 or early 2020
- What can I play it on? PlayStation 4
The Last of Us 2 trailers
The most recent trailer we have for The Last of Us 2 was shown during E3 2018. This trailer finally gives us a look at Ellie in an intimate scene before cutting away to some of the brutal but stealth-based combat we can expect to see in the game when it's launched.
The gameplay sequence gives us a look at Ellie fighting for her life in the wild. Success in a fight appears to require the right balance between stealth and all out attack as damage seems to have a more realistic impact. Ellie can move quietly between areas, taking weapons from bodies and crafting, before bursting out and taking down her enemies. It's a different creature in many ways to the original The Last of Us but it looks like something to look forward to, with more advanced enemies to challenge us and more complex gameplay to thrill us.
See the gameplay for yourself below.
The Last of Us Part 2 had another trailer drop during PSX 2017. During a panel it was confirmed that the game will be set in the city of Seattle and the darker themes we know are coming were touched upon. You can watch the panel for yourself below:
Another trailer for the game was shown at Sony's press conference during the 2017 Paris Games Week. This trailer is around 5 minutes long, focusing on conflicts between the human factions in the game. It shows part 2 is going to have a dark story, perhaps even darker than the first, and the trailer is fairly harrowing to watch.
Visually impressive though it is, do note that it's gory before you watch it for yourself below.
The first look at The Last of Us 2 came with its announcement at PlayStation Experience in 2016. Despite the fact that the game was early in development, the trailer showed a full (non-gameplay) scene that features both Ellie and Joel. You can watch it below:
The Last of Us 2 release date
The Last of Us 2 has been in the works for a while but we're still waiting for a definite release date. Considering Naughty Dog has experienced the bad side of promising a solid release date and missing it before, it’s hard to blame them for not committing before being ready.
In an interview with Vorterix, the game's composer, Gustavo Santaolalla, said that the game is going to launch in 2019. Naturally, this hasn't been confirmed so we'd take it with a pinch of salt.
Making that 2019 release date seem less likely are the recent rumors suggesting we won't see The Last of Us 2 on shelves until early 2020, especially after another big PlayStation exclusive, Death Stranding, just had a November 2019 release date confirmed. It would be incredible to have two releases from PlayStation that are this big during the holiday season but it's unlikely.
Adding fuel to the 2020 fire is a Between the Sheets interview with Ellie actress Ashely Johnson. When asked when the game is going to be released, Johnson appears to begin to say "February", which would tie up with the rumored release date after Death Stranding took the end of 2019 release slot.
Of course, Johnson didn't actually get to finish what she was saying and a lot can change between now and February 2020. We won't know for certain until Naughty Dog makes it official. You can watch the interview with Johnson below (with that release moment being around the one hour and seven minutes mark).
What we know so far
More from Troy Baker
The teasing for The Last of Us 2 continues at Manchester Comic-Con. Troy Baker, voice of Joel, has once again been talking about the game and this time he’s said:
“There is nothing about this game, nor the reveals, that hasn’t been 100% carefully crafted and methodically curated. All I can tell you is that as much as you’re clamoring for it, you’re not ready.”
If that’s true then the careful curation possibly extends to Baker’s excellent hyping here. What that tells us is that we’re not going to hear anything about this game’s release date until Sony and Naughty Dog want us to and it could be a little while longer before we do.
Troy Baker shedding some light
Things have been a little quiet around The Last of Us Part II lately so Troy Baker, the voice of Joel, has caused some excitement merely by mentioning the game. During Manchester Comic-Con, Baker was asked what can be expected from the sequel and wasn't able to give away much. What he did say, however, was that "it's hands down the most ambitious game that Naughty Dog has ever done for sure. It's far larger than I thought was going to be possible." That's a pretty big statement to make and one guaranteed to leave fans salivating.
When it came to the release date, though, Baker wasn't able to make any announcements. Not because he didn't want to (though obviously and understandably he didn't) but because he and his fellow cast members don't know the release date just yet. "Last time we announced, we slipped," he explained, "And they don't want to do that again."
Rumors of a delay
There was much excitement on May 29 as a result of PlayStation exclusive Death Stranding finally getting its release date confirmed as November 8 2019. This has, however, had a ripple effect which is concerning fans of The Last of Us 2.
With Death Stranding now slotted in as PlayStation's big exclusive release for the holiday season of 2019, it's been rumored (by Kotaku's Jason Schreier among others) that The Last of Us 2, also originally said to be looking at a late 2019 release, will now be pushed into early 2020.
This has not been confirmed by Naughty Dog or PlayStation so it remains nothing more than rumor at the moment. It's also worth pointing out that The Last of Us 2 has never had a set-in-stone release date anyway.
However, an early 2020 release date for The Last of Us 2 does not seem impossible at this point as PlayStation having two such huge releases close together at the end of 2019 would be a surprise indeed.
A recent interview with Ellie actress, Ashley Johnson, has also added to those early 2020 rumors as, when asked by the interviewer when the game will release, she appears to begin to say February. However, nothing has been confirmed by Naughty Dog just yet so everything stands as rumor only at the the moment.
Into the final stages
News around The Last of Us 2 has been hotting up recently as the game inches closer towards completion. Naughty Dog has now confirmed that the final scene for the game has been shot and the game’s co-director, Anthony Newman, has tweeted out a recruitment call as the studio begins to “close out” the game’s development.
Lot of awesome positions open to help us close out this game... I especially want to highlight the Melee Animator position, I guarantee you will be working on some *dope* animations working with my good friend @Leethul 🗡️💀 pic.twitter.com/vmlVkJlfTl10 May 2019
As promising as these announcements are, they don't reveal anything about whether or not we can expect to see The Last of Us 2 this year or next. Regardless, development has reached a critical stage and though Sony won’t be attending E3 2019, that doesn’t mean it can’t make some announcements around the time of the show. In fact, recent rumors have suggested that we will see some kind of news around this time. Hopefully we’ll see a confirmed release date in the coming months.
Mocap is underway
Things have been quiet on the official news front for The Last of Us 2 but we've been glad to see some studio insiders and actors from the game posting images on social media which show that the game's motion capture is well underway. Actors Ashley Johnson and Shannon Woodward have both posted images of themselves wearing mocap suits. They didn't give much away but the fact that Naughty Dog is this far into the motion capture process suggests we might at least be closer to hearing about a possible release date.
Troy Baker is impressed
The Last of Us 2 is still in the works, but we now know that one of its lead voice actors, Troy Baker, has had an in-depth look and he thinks the game is 'awesome'. It's not clear whether Baker just saw some gameplay or had the chance to go hands-on himself but according to GameRant he said during MCM Comic Con at Birmingham “It’s a fantastic story. It’s a fantastic game. We just finished a playtest. It’s looking awesome. I can’t for it to be on shelves.” Though we can't be sure where exactly in the development process it is (during PSX, it was said that Naughty Dog had reached around the 50 to 60% mark) this playtest is an encouraging sign.
With Neil Druckmann having been promoted to Vice President of Naughty Dog, The Last of Us 2 now has two confirmed directors. Druckmann will, of course, still be heavily involved in the creation of the game but it's now being headed up by Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau, both of whom were lead designers on Uncharted 4.
Although it was no slouch in the gameplay department, it was the story told by The Last of Us that stuck with us for months afterwards. Naturally Naughty Dog had to give us some kind of hint about where the sequel would go.
At the moment we know The Last of Us 2 will take place in the city of Seattle, five years after the end of the original game, with a 19 year old Ellie taking the starring playable role. Joel will still appear in the game but if the teaser trailer is anything to go by, he could be a much more passive presence.
This time around, Ellie is extremely angry about...something. From what we saw from the teaser trailer she wants revenge, which to her appears to be a dish best served deadly.
She does, after all, promise to “kill every last one of them.” It’s not clear who “them” is but it could signal that the Fireflies, the first game's well-meaning but morally grey antagonists, will make a return. Anger, hate and revenge are going to be key themes this time around so expect to be in for an emotionally heavy ride.
In the trailer for the game shown at Paris Games Week in 2017, we got a look at how dark the game is likely to be. The trailer focuses on the opposing relationships between human characters in the game and features some seriously cringe-inducing violence.
It doesn't tell us much about any new characters of how they'll relate to one another but it does confirm that we're going into a dark game world in The Last of Us part 2.
In a recent panel at PSX both Druckmann and Gross said that though the game's story will indeed be dark and there'll be a focus on the theme of hate, "there is hope" and there will be "lighthearted moments."
We can't pretend we're not relieved to hear this after the game's controversial Paris Games Week trailer which, Druckmann said, was intended to highlight the game's exploration of the pursuit of justice.
Ellie is one of the most real and refreshing characters we’ve seen in gaming so it’s exciting that Naughty Dog are going to take her story further and put her in center stage.
The creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann has said that the story will be about Ellie and Joel’s relationship and that though the story would be complementary to the story of the first game, it would be much larger.
When asked at a PSX panel whether or not Joel or Ellie may die, Druckmann responded that "no one is safe" highlighting that the game's story really could go anywhere.
Hopes are particularly high for this larger story as it’s been revealed that one of the writers of Westworld, Halley Gross, will be co-writing the game’s story. Having someone who’s written scripts for such an incredibly popular and successful show should be a boon for the game's story.
E3 2018 brought us our first proper look at the gameplay in The Last of Us Part 2. Given Ellie is now the leading playable character, it was expected that things would be a little different from the first game and the presentation at the show made this fairly clear.
Ellie will have some moves similar to Joel but there are some things she'll be able to do that are completely different. For one thing she can jump - the new jump button should make the world of The Last of Us Part 2 more complex and more enjoyable to traverse. It also has the potential to make combat more interesting. Speaking of combat, Ellie doesn't really throw punches as her first form of attack, she has a stealthy knife. Melee combat generally appears to offer a little more than the original game, with evasions and an environment that can help as well as hinder your fighting.
Not only has Ellie matured as a character, the enemies she faces have developed and they're more realistic than ever. The Infected in The Last of Us Part 2 are smarter and more reactive than their predecessors, making them a tougher foe to face. AI has improved, allowing enemies to communicate with one another and to look for Ellie when she's hiding. Expect some tense moments to arise from this.
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