Naughty

The Last of Us 2 will depart from the original in one major way

Naughty Dog is once again pushing the boundaries of narrative video games.

Video game developer Naughty Dog has confirmed that the upcoming sequel, The Last of Us Part 2, will be unlike the original in one significant way. And it's a change that'll make TLOU 2 the naughtiest game the studio has ever produced.

Naughty Dog is only months away from releasing the next heart-wrenching chapter of its post-apocalyptic drama with The Last of Us Part 2. The sequel will focus on 19-year-old Ellie while an aging Joel takes a backseat as a supporting character. But the 2020 title will set itself apart from the original 2013 game in even more significant ways than we previously thought.

The official Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating for The Last of Us Part 2 became public Monday morning on the game's official website. The Last of Us Part 2 will be rated “M for Mature” like the 2013 release on account of "blood and gore, intense violence, and strong language." However, the sequel will be even more graphic, listing on its ESRB rating tag "nudity, sexual content," and even "use of drugs."

In short, TLOU 2 will be even more explicit and graphic than its predecessor, and some of that will come from scenes of a sexual nature. The original TLOU only included “sexual themes” in its ESRB rating, which hints that Naughty Dog will opt for uncensored sex scenes instead of suggestive innuendos and cutaways. That could mean several noteworthy things for the sequel.

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Video game sex scenes that don't make you cringe

The first Last of Us didn't include any sex scenes or anything else even remotely resembling sexual intimacy, probably for the better as these kinds of moments in video games are notoriously awkward and cringe-worthy (Mass Effect fans, you know what I’m talking about). Naughty Dog might have solved the graphical and motion-capture challenges of yesteryear to craft a digital sex scene that looks more natural and, dare we say, cinematic.

The trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 was praised for showing off some of the most passionate and realistic video game lip-locking ever. Plus, Ellie’s love interest, Dina, will play a big role in the new story, which suggests their relationship will be front and center for the entirety of the sequel.

The official synopsis for the game mentions some kind of event early on that causes Ellie to embark on a quest for vengeance:

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.

Is there a sexually explicit scene early in the game that takes place early on? If some kind of "violent event" sets Ellie down the path of vengeance, then it seems likely that Dina might be killed early in the story.

If we compare The Last of Us Part 2's ESRB rating to some other "Mature" titles, we can expect similar sexualized content to games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect 2, or Mass Effect 3. All three of these BioWare titles were labeled for "sexual content" by the ESRB whereas other games like Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and Mass Effect: Andromeda received "strong sexual content." The difference might be slight, especially when The Last of Us Part 2 is also labeled for full rather than partial "nudity," which is less common in games, but it still gives us at least a vague idea of what to expect.

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It might include more graphic, sexual violence

The original Last of Us did include occasional insinuations of rape and sexual violence, which seems common for post-apocalyptic storytelling. During the Winter chapter of the first game, Ellie is kidnapped by a group of cannibals whose leader, David, attacks her and threatens her sexually. She's thankfully able to kill him before that happens. Based on the ESRB ratings, it seems possible that the sequel won't shy away from depicting heinous acts.

As Naughty Dog grapples with the horrors of human nature in lawless environments, it's increasingly more likely that the game will include more mature content in the sequel — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that The Last of Us Part 2 will be rife with mindless violence.

“We want the player to be asking these moral questions all the time,” lead game designer Em Schatz told The Verge in September. “We don’t depict violence and hate as a way of endorsing it. We want to present these as consequences in a world where there is no authority, no police you can go to, not really black-and-white, good guys and bad guys.”

The Last of Us Part 2 will include powerful scenes meant to make players reflect upon the consequences of this kind of society and how people would react in a world without authority.

TLOU pushed the boundaries of how video games are used as a means for storytelling. Naughty Dog’s long-awaited follow-up seems poised to take the medium even further with carefully crafted intimate and violent scenes that were once only possible in films and TV.

The Last of Us Part 2 will be released on the Sony PlayStation 4 on May 29, 2020.

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