Naughty Dog has made it very clear that The Last of Us Part 2 centres on some dark human emotions. “The emotional journey of the first game was this idea of, can we – through interactivity, gameplay, storytelling, music, all those things – make you feel, or come as close to feeling, the unconditional love a parent feels for their child,” creative director Neil Druckmann tells us after I play through a section pulled from some way into the sequel’s story. “There are the beautiful moments that come with that, and the kind of insane horrific moments that could come from that, like how far someone’s willing to go for someone they love unconditionally.
“We have this conversation that love is sometimes insane, right? It leads you to insanity – and that’s not a judgement necessarily. It’s just who we are as human beings. I think we’re wired this way, and we see by the end [of The Last of Us] how far Joel is willing to go to protect Ellie. With this game, we toyed with different ideas that didn’t work out because they were lacking that same emotional core.
“And then what we landed on, it’s a very similar question to how far are you willing to go for love, but when someone has wronged a person you really care about. How far are you willing to go to do right by them to bring the people responsible to justice and what effect that would have could have on you, in this case Ellie, the journey she goes on the people around her, if they’re going too far and if so are they ever coming back from that.”