Naughty Dog’s new IP The Last of Us certainly did a good job of making a stellar first impression when its trailer debuted at last year’s Spike Video Game Awards. Since then, it’s kept a relatively low profile save for its creative director, Neil Druckmann, proclaiming the game was going to “change the f***ing industry” due to its narrative and inherent love story.
That’s great – the essence of an immersive gaming experience is somewhat reliant on a decent story, and so it’s nice to know Naughty Dog is taking care to produce a good narrative. But what about gameplay? Characters? You know, the other bits of a game that are important.
In the current edition of Game Informer Magazine, The Last of Us is the cover feature so naturally there’s quite a bit of new information coming to light.
You’ll play as Joel, the guy beating the hell out of an opponent in the debut trailer. Humanity is basically confined to military controlled zones and Joel has made his way by smuggling weapons and drugs through these militarised areas. The infection that has turned most of humanity into mutants (not zombies!) is airborne, and the military basically executes anyone who is suspected of being infected.
At the start of the game, Joel promises a dying friend that he’ll look after Ellie (the young girl from the trailer) and get her out of the Orwellian militarised safe zones. So begins their journey through Pittsburgh. Ellie, having only known life since the outbreak of the infection, finds everyday things like CDs and books absolutely fascinating, so our guess is that there will be numerous moments during the game where her childlike fascination will form a stark contrast to the violent life she’s already used to.
You’ll never be able to control Ellie, but Naughty Dog is weary of turning the entire game into a controller-flinging escort mission. This means they’re spending a lot of time on crafting Ellie’s AI so that she’ll prove to be a help in combat rather than a hindrance.
Gameplay will blend exploration with gun and melee combat, but from the sounds of things the environments will be less linear than Naught Dogs’ previous Uncharted series. Mention has been made of buildings being entirely optional for you to explore, but advisable seeing as you’re going to be scavenging for supplies and ammunition.
Weapons will degrade over time, but you’ll probably be using them sparingly considering ammunition will be a rare commodity. Most of the time you’ll be picking up ammunition from corpses, but on rare occasions you might find bullets in buildings and houses – if you choose to explore.
It’s starting to sound really good, isn’t it? There’s a little bit more: multiplayer. While Naughty Dog has not decided on what form multiplayer will take in the game, they told Game Informer that they are “working on a bunch of ideas”. They also admitted that they haven’t “nailed anything down”. The subtext of that reads: this game is still a long way away if Naughty Dog has yet to decide on how they’re implementing multiplayer.