After a bit of a delay getting the replay of the debut trailer going, Andy McNamara introduced Neil Druckmann (writer, director), Ashley Johnson (“Ellie”) and Troy Baker (“Joel”) to begin the panel for “The Last of Us: Part II”.
Neil Druckmann started off the conversation by saying that, if the first LoU game was about building love between Joel and Ellie, the sequel will be about hate. Also while the first game had Joel as the playable main character, the sequel will set the player up with Ellie as the protagonist.
Several years after the first game, Ellie is now 19. While there is trepidation about revisiting these characters, Druckmann believes that they love the characters more than anyone, and they would not have done this story if they didn’t believe it wouldn’t have been worth telling.
While they couldn’t discuss much about the context of what’s happening in the scene from the trailer, the panel did discuss how collaboration and production for the scene began about 2 years ago, and that “Ellie” actress Ashley Johnson is in fact singing the Sean James song “Through the Valley” herself. Some upcoming gameplay reveals will also touch on how Ellie will play different from how Joel did in the first game.
Specifics of production and idea evolution were delved into after that, with Druckmann discussing how he doesn’t try to craft this story as a beat-by-beat one-upping of memorable scenes from the first game, and how the mechanics and specifics of how a scene will tell and play will be dictated by what the core concept of each individual scene is (i.e.-the Pittsburgh sequence from the first game was about Joel trusting Ellie as an equal for the first time).
Fans who remember the incredible music from the first game will be glad to hear that Gustavo Santaolalla will return to score this game as well. They showed off a brief video that showed some concept art paired with Santaolalla’s new theme for Part II.
To conclude the panel, when asked about what constitutes “The Last of Us” stories, Druckmann stated that Joel and Ellie are the heart of it. The infected and the epidemic are part of the world, but the series is about human relationships, and Druckmann doesn’t see the games at all without Joel and Ellie.
Stay tuned to The Geekiverse for future developments on “The Last of Us: Part II”!