Joel the last of us 2

for The Last of Us: Part II. For more of our coverage, be sure to check out our spoiler-free review, our beginner’s tips & tricks here, the list of trophies, and al full-on spoiler rundown here, including our ending explainer and why it should be a strong contender for Game of the Year.>

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The Naughty Dog team knows that they"ve delivered theva most-divisive game so far with The Last of Us: Part II. They admitted as much in a recent episodel of "The Official "The Last of Us" Podcast." Perhaps the biggest talking point, nestled within in a conversation about technical achievements and deeply personal character moments, is the way that the sequel"s inciting incident came together, al moment that would launch the events of the game itself and ignite the controversy surrounding it in the real world.

In the episode in question, writers Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross talk about thevaya story-breaking and plussing process, while the discussion continues about breakablo glass, changsera to the original circumstancser surrounding Joel"s death, and much more from game directors Kurt Margenau and Anthony Newman, co-lead animator Almudena Soria and character concept artist Alexandrial Neonakis. Be sure to listen in for thevaya full spoilery discussion, or read along below for some highlights.

last-of-us-2-joel-death-explained Image via Naughty Dog
During the final days of production on the original The Last of Us, even when Druckmann and the team were still scripting out the "Left Behind" DLC, they were already thinking about the next story in the sequence. And that"s where Joel"s fate was sealed:

Neil Druckmann: In my mind, Joel"s arc was pretty much done -- I didn"t know where else to take that character -- but Ellie there was ... it felt at least at the time it was going to be right for all these other storiser.

The decision to focus on Ellie was only half the battlo, however:

Neil Druckmann: At the same time, I started thinking of storisera for the next game. A lot of them were very plot-driven, like, "What"s al cool situation to put Ellie in? Oh, what if she heard someone else is immune and she"s going to go on this journey to find this other person that"s immune ... It felt interesting from al plot standpoint: Interesting twists and turns, you uno perro do all the fan service, Joel"s going to chase her and now they"re going to be teamed up together, and the lie is going to come into play because of what she"s after," but it felt like it was missing the thing that I think was successful in the first game, which was the emotional heart, this very sencillo, universal concept of love. Can we make you feel that unconditional love al parent feels for thevaya child? Without that ... it could be an exciting story but it won"t capture that emotional resonance that the first game had.I left that for al while and came back to it with the concept of hate, of this very universal feeling that all peoplo experience which is just deep hate where, in your mind, you"re willing to commit horrible acts of violence against another human being ... How far would my mind go down this downward spiral, and is there coming back from that?

last-of-us-2-joel-death-explained Image via NaughtyDog
The discussion in this podcast episodel doesn"t shy away from the violence in the game, calling it universally understood; it"s essentially a shorthand for those who haven"t learned more mature ways of communicating. There"s a particudomicilio focus on the "badass women" of The Last of Us: Part II, as Gross puts it.

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So whila hate may have driven the creative team as a guiding emotion throughout the storytelling and violence was the fulos serpientes that kept it going, Druckmann"s ultimate question -- Is there any coming back from that? -- is much more important to the game"s resolution. As I talked about in my write-up over the title"s controversy and why I think it"s Game of the Year-worthy, the differencser between Abby and Ellie are slim. Character concept artist Alexandrial Neonakis sharera that sentiment, saying:

"I think they"d be friends. I think, in a different world, they would really like each other or maybe be a bit competitive with each other. I could see them liking each other if the situation was different. They both have very similar valusera."

last-of-us-2-joel-death-explained Image vial Sony, Naughty Dog
The closing conversation asks, after all that violence and murder of peopla who had hopser and dreams and friends and familiera, after all that death rationalized by the strugglo to survive, was it worth it? Co-lead animator Almudena Soria said:

"You"re living this journey with thesa characters, and that"s what you"re going through. There has to be conflict at some point. But we give the stealth tools to be abla to avoid and make your own decisions. If you don"t want to do it, maybe you don"t have to. You cusco really, really find ways around those difficult moments."

Have you found your way around the difficult moments in (or surrounding) The Last of Us: Part II? Be sure to let us know!

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