The final batch of previews for The Last of Us Part II was published on June 1, just over two weeks before the highly anticipated game's launch. Even after a couple of public showings from Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment, including the June State of Play, these previews also revealed some critical new features and details about the game that you probably didn't know yet.
4. The Last of Us Part 2 lets you play however you want
The Last of Us Part 2 will be an exhaustively customizable experience for any kind of player in terms of difficulty and accessibility options.
For those looking at the game's difficulty, Game Informer has confirmed that the extremely difficult "Survivor" mode from the previous game is unlocked from the get-go. Additionally, players can specifically modify difficulty elements such as "how much damage Ellie takes, how perceptive enemies are, and how plentiful resources are in the world."
And in terms of accessibility for gamers with disabilities, The Last of Us Part 2 also makes gigantic strides with features like changing the size of UI elements, text-to-speech capabilities, and even a high-contrast mode that shifts the game's colors to assist low vision players.
"Accessibility for us is about removing barriers that are keeping players from completing a game," Lead Gameplay Designer Emilia Schatz told The Verge in a report detailing these accessibility options and other features.
"It’s not about dumbing down a game or making a game easy," she said. "What do our players need in order to play the game in parity with everyone else?" The Last of Us Part 2 looks like it will be the most accessible games published ever by Sony, so don't be worried about this game not accommodating the accessibility options that you need.
3. Stealth and combat have been vastly improved
While The Last of Us may have been a critically acclaimed and beloved game, its third-person shooter gameplay was fairly standard and definitely not the highlight of the package. While The Last of Us Part 2 doesn't deviate from the formula too much, previews have highlighted some major improvements to stealth, upgrade trees, and mobility in combat.
"Staying hidden and striking from the shadows is heavily encouraged at the beginning of any encounter, but especially when you find yourself in an overgrown Seattle park surrounded by mysterious brown cloth-clad torch bearers searching the area for ‘stragglers’," IGN's preview explains. "Tall grass is often Ellie’s best friend, although it doesn’t make her completely invisible to enemies ... being proactive and constantly on the move proved successful for me as I bypassed some enemies before ultimately having to strike."
"The Last of Us 2 offers different skill branches, allowing you to use supplements to upgrade specific branches of abilities such as stealth, precision and explosives," Tech Radar wrote in a preview. "You need to be a bit more picky with what you choose to upgrade than you might be in another game. This also applies to weapon upgrades, which can be unlocked with scavenged materials."
It appears that The Last of Us Part 2 will force players to be much more resourceful than the typical third-person shooter, especially when it comes to stealth, skills, and crafting. While gameplay was the weakest link of the first time around, The Last of Us Part 2 is putting it on par with its engaging story.
2. The Last of Us Part 2 story is about love ... and violence
In an interview with Game Informer, Director Neil Druckmann more tackled The Last of Us Part 2's controversial themes: "The first game was so much about love ..." he explained before saying the sequel's story is "a mirror" of the first, specifically, "How far would you go for love?" Not only is it about protecting those Ellie holds dear, but it's about bringing anyone who might harm her loved ones to justice.
"The setup now is that the person you love has been hurt badly, and how far are you willing to go to bring the people responsible to justice," Druckmann said. "The motivation is still loving. And when you look around the world, it’s stuck in this cycle of violence because the people they care about got hurt ... That all felt like fertile ground that raises the interesting philosophical questions that we had with the first game." There's a cycle of violence that happens: Joel and Ellie killed plenty of people in the first game, and those people want to deliver justice to whoever wronged them. So every violent act has its violent consequence.
While many players were frustrated or even angered by the story leaks that contextualize what Druckmann means by all this, this theme is a relatable and engaging one that should make The Last of Us Part 2's plot just as engaging as the first's thanks to solid writing and interesting characters. "This shouldn’t be controversial, but it is — we want to have a diverse cast of characters that reflects the world we live in and helps us tell more unique, interesting stories," Druckmann concluded. "Those are things we value that come back into the game as well."
1. This may be the most brutal game ever!
A GameStop listing from May highlighted the prevalence of dog killing in the game, and the trailers for the game have been pretty visceral all along. One common thread through almost every preview is just how brutal The Last of Us Part 2 is and how it uses individuality to achieve a sense of reality. IGN highlighted the detailed animation and gore in both stealth and normal combat, and Game Informer discussed the previously controversial combat against dogs, saying that the animals "feel like someone’s pet."
This brutality is more realistic than what's typically portrayed in gory games like Mortal Kombat 11. This is because Naughty Dog has ensured that every enemy feels like a real person. "Every person has a name, every person has a heartbeat that is being tracked, which affects their audio cues — they might breathe harder or shout more," Druckmann told Game Informer in an interview. Enemies even "have an emotional state that can change if you kill their friend next to them."
Druckmann thinks the visceral nature of these elements makes The Last of Us Part 2 have "much greater tension," than other games. When you go to play The Last of Us Part 2 later in June, make sure you are prepared for a particularly brutal experience.
The Last of Us Part II will be released for PS4 on June 19, 2020.