Sony capped off today’s State of Play with eight minutes of uncut The Last of Us Part II gameplay showing Ellie running around and killing a bunch of people. Her first victim? Some poor soul playing what looked like Hotline Miami on a fat, OLED Vita. RIP to a real one.
I’m about 15 mins into the vid and so far it really feels like the studio has somehow forgotten all the lessons it learnt about their fans from the first game and its DLC.
When they first made Left Behind interviews with Druckmann at the time (https://www.engadget.com/2014-02-14-the-last-of-us-interview-dice-2014.html, https://venturebeat.com/2013/08/06/the-last-of-us-interview-part-two/view-all/) really focus on how the fans of the first game, critics and players, the very people this second game is made for, didn’t like the violence or the fact you had to kill the surgeon at the end of the game, going so far as to deliberately reduce the level of violence in the DLC to focus on the character-based storytelling people loved.
People didn’t love the first game for the killing aspects or the zombies. They loved it for the world-building, reading all those little notes about how the world fell, and the evolving familial relationship between the two main characters (some of the nuance about the fireflies already seemingly removed, doubling down on the idea they could create a viable cure when the in-game notes in the first game place heavy doubt on this and suggest it’s more a desperate dream).
Here, combined with the leaks (which I won’t detail), you see Druckmann focusing heavily on how they’ve improved the combat for the sequel, with the clips they’ve chosen to show heavily reliant on showing how extreme and graphic the killing is. It’d be like if Bungie after Halo 2 and the criticism of the Arbiter missions came away and in ‘07 revealed Halo 3 saw you only play as the Arbiter.
Combined with the fact most of the “enemies” depicted of one faction (WLF) seem like regular decent people just getting by as opposed to the banditry or extremism of those faced in the first game it feels like they’ve really misred the audience and decided to make some stylised brutal “violence porn” killing heavy game just to get a reaction, which already it’s been revealed having landed badly with playtesters, and instead were forced into a position of rewrites but too late to fundamentally change the product.
I’m admittedly in the “yeah, I’m not playing this” camp knowing what happens in the story (and no, I don’t think any amount of nuance in their overall portrayal of the beats will resolve that) and I think after launch it’s going to really land badly in how combat-focused they’ve made this game.