'The Last of Us 2' spoilers: Joel's story revealed in new synopsis and demo

With five months to go, new details are flooding in about the Naughty Dog sequel.

The curtain is slowly being pulled back from The Last of Us Part II as its February 21 release date approaches. Sony Interactive Entertainment revealed the official synopsis for the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive Thursday, providing gamers with further story details apart what we learned from past trailers. Naughty Dog also hosted demo sessions on the same day, offering our first detailed look at The Last of Us Part II.

Both have cemented that 19-year-old Ellie will play a lead role in the greatly-anticipated sequel of the survival-horror adventure, but they also shed light on Joel’s part in the title. The bearded protagonist of the original game has been shrouded in a haze of mystery ever since Sony announced the The Last of Us Part II in December 2016, but with launch day five months out, his place in the story is finally becoming clear.

Light spoilers of the The Last of Us Part II’s plot and heavy spoilers for the The Last of Us ahead.

'The Last of Us Part II'

Naughty Dog

What The Last of Us Part II plot synopsis says about Joel

Sony’s summary includes some vague spoilers that foreshadow a long, painful road for Ellie and confirms that The Last of Us Part II will be a story of vengeance, revenge, hate, and their consequences.

Five years after their dangerous journey across the post-pandemic United States, Ellie and Joel have settled down in Jackson, Wyoming. Living amongst a thriving community of survivors has allowed them peace and stability, despite the constant threat of the infected and other, more desperate survivors. When a violent event disrupts that peace, Ellie embarks on a relentless journey to carry out justice and find closure. As she hunts those responsible one by one, she is confronted with the devastating physical and emotional repercussions of her actions.

The Last of Us Part II release date trailer that debuted on Monday suggests the “violent event” is the death of Dina, Ellie’s budding love interest. Ellie and Dina are seen setting off on a mission until things go haywire and Dina is executed in front of Ellie.

Sony / Naughty Dog

From there the teaser cuts to Ellie brutalizing Infected, humans, and animals presumably to avenge Dina’s death. It ends with Joel appearing out of the nowhere and offering to help Ellie on her journey.

But Joel looks weary and older compared to the previous title. This could suggest that his death is the “violent event” that will drive Ellie’s revenge story. For now, it’s too soon to tell but the game demos hinted that Ellie and Joel have a strained relationship.

What The Last of Us Part II demos revealed about Ellie and Joel

The demo was split into two parts, the first served as a tutorial bit that featured Ellie and Dina traveling together while the second revealed testers to the wild and violent world of The Last of Us Part II.

IGN’s Jonathon Dornbush said the first half offered “a brief bit of hope in a tough world.” It highlighted the two characters’ romance, while also offering hints at Ellie and Joel’s relationship.

Sony / Naughty Dog

Kotaku reports that Ellie says she’s thinking about watching a movie with Joel, which causes Dina to respond “Oh, are you two cool?” This could suggest that Ellie now knows that Joel forfeited humanity’s future to save her life in the first game.

The second part of the demo confirms that the Western Liberation Front (WLF) will be the main human antagonists in The Last of Us Part II. The militant, xenophobic group has taken over Seattle and testers got to fight, sneak, and run their way through the WLF territory.

The demo ends exactly like the release date trailer, with Ellie running into Joel as a group of WLF members close in on her. This sequence of events further suggests that Joel will help Ellie avenge Dina and that they might work through a strained father-daughter relationship along the way, but Naughty Dog could be setting up gamers for a bait-and-switch.

Joel could be the one to die, leaving the story to revolve around Ellie’s reckoning with his death and her feelings for Dina. Only time will bring about clearer answers.

The Last of Us Part II will be exclusively released for PS4 on February 21, 2020.

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