The gruesome plot of Naughty Dog's highly anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusive The Last of Us Part II has been spoiled as part of a major story and gameplay leak. The community's response has been negative due to some hugely controversial plot points that could prove more traumatic than some of the biggest twists from the original.
This article contains major spoilers for The Last of Us Part 2. Read on at your own discretion.
What happened — Major plot details and even some cinematic clips from The Last of Us Part 2 have been leaked online, giving away key story elements and showing off more gameplay. The original leak came in the form of a video that has since been taken down from YouTube due to copyright claims. But details from the leak have been shared in the form of reposted videos and threads on forums like ResetEra.
More The Last of Us Part II stories from Inverse:
- TLOU 2 trailer seemingly confirms leaks (05/06/2020)
- TLOU 2 leaks expose fandom's dark side (05/04/2020)
- What TLOU 2's massive file size means (05/04/2020)
- Sony: Leaker wasn't a "disgruntled" ex-employee (5/1/2020)
- Everything you need to know about Abby (04/28/2020)
Who leaked — The exact source of the leak has yet to be determined, but GamesIndustry.biz reports that it is "rumored to be the result of a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee."
UPDATE: New information is starting to conflict with the claim that a Naughty Dog employee leaked The Last of Us Part 2. While addressing a thread discussing this rumor on Twitter, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier stated: "Folks I've talked to at Naughty Dog believe that the leaker wasn't actually an employee, though I haven't seen any proof yet." As this conflicts with the main theory about the leaker going around, Schreier promised, "If I find out for sure where the TLOU2 leak came from, I'll share it." He further clarified that he won't publicly out the perpetrator if he finds out, but that he will clarify the nature of the leak as needed.
"Some of the claims don't add up," he wrote. "[Naughty Dog] has real issues (ones I've covered a lot) but they actually gave contractors extra pay for Covid." This makes it seem like it probably wasn't a developer that leaked anything from the game. "The caveat here is that if this was a disgruntled employee, of course [Naughty Dog] wouldn't want anyone to know that," he wrote. "But I've talked to a lot of [Naughty Dog] devs over the years and many have described it as a pretty good place to work ... except for the crunch."
UPDATE 2: Sony has now officially told GamesIndustry.biz that "it has identified the primary individuals responsible for the leaks earlier this week, saying they were not affiliated with Sony Interactive Entertainment or Naughty Dog." Sony wouldn't reveal who the source of the leaks was, but this does give some closure on the whole matter.
Why they leaked — We don't know for sure why anyone would leak such crucial details about a game, or why a supposed developer would leak details for a game they have been working on for years. Considering the reports of insane crunch at Naughty Dog and the game's delay due to the coronavirus, both factors could've influenced their decisions.
UPDATE: If it wasn't a Naughty Dog employee, the motivation is unclear. Schreier did point out that "with everyone working from home, video game builds are far less secure than they would be if they could only be played in the office," so keep in mind that these leaks could've been illegally obtained by a hacker.
What's in the leak — The leaked videos showcase more gameplay, and it mostly looks like a more polished version of the first game. But the video also revealed some important scenes and level details that give away The Last of Us Part 2's biggest twists.
Major spoilers for The Last of Us Part 2 follow!
What's new in the leak — Perhaps the biggest surprise is the revelation that Ellie isn't the only protagonist of The Last of Us Part 2. The other playable character is Abby, a woman who was introduced during the Paris Games Week 2017 trailer. Very little was known about her previously, but these new leaks reveal that she's the daughter of the surgeon Joel killed towards the end in the first game during his mission to rescue Ellie. The switch to Abby's perspective happens about halfway through the sequel, according to a level list also included in the leaks.
This makes for a controversial choice considering the leaks also reveal that Abby kills Joel with a golf club. Jesse, another character who was featured in the E3 2018 trailer, is also confirmed to die at some point.
The story comes to a head as players fight Ellie and Dinah but play as Abby. Despite some preivous leaks claiming that Ellie dies, this leak suggests that she will live through Abby's attack. The cyclical nature of revenge is the very obvious theme connecting it all, exploring how it changes Ellie and Abby. Based on these leaks, it sure looks like Naughty Dog wants to comment on how revenge can make a villain out of anyone.
This makes for a surprising and subversive route for The Last of Us Part 2's story to take, and it's not one that sounds like fun to experience firsthand.
How the leak affects release date — Seemingly because of these leaks, Sony announced a new release date for The Last of Us Part 2: June 19. The official blog post announcing the release date doesn't mention the leaks specifically, but the timing of the announcement certainly pulled some attention away from the leak.
What Naughty Dog has said about the leaks — Initially, Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment did not officially comment directly on the leaks. Acknowledging them at all would validate them and likely attract more attention to an already frustrating leak. Sony did intervene to have the leaked video down right away and has been hiding the tweets of people spoiling the game on their official Twitter account.
Naughty Dog posted a message asking people to ignore the leaks on Twitter not long after the release date announcement. The Last of Us Part 2 Writer and Co-Director Neil Druckmann signal-boosted the message, adding, "Heartbroken for the team. Heartbroken for our fans. We’re still incredibly excited to get the game into your hands." Co-Director Kurt Margenau also tweeted about it, saying "Endure and Survive. And Mute."
What's next? — While The Last of Us Part 2 was at one point in time perhaps the most anticipated game of 2020, a quick glance at Twitter reveals an outpouring of negative responses to the leaks. The developers may have gotten away with these more subversive plot elements if they'd been experienced directly through the game rather than a bland summary of plot points in this leak. Now, expectations have seemingly been lowered for the game, so the final product will have to deliver.
The Inverse Analysis — It's unfortunate that the pivotal plot details for The Last of Us Part 2 leaked in this manner. The developers had been making the game in secret for years, and having the game's biggest twists revealed this close to launch must be disheartening, especially if it did come from a Naughty Dog employee.
The game's story is clearly going in a very bold and somewhat odd direction, and that hasn't gone over well with some people because major moments were leaked without subtlety or context. The Last of Us Part 2 will be out on June 19, and players will just have to make their own decisions about the quality of the story. For anyone who successfully avoids having the story spoiled ahead of time, these major plot points might be told effectively. We'll just have to wait and see.
This article was updated on May 1, 2020 with more information about The Last of Us, including links to more coverage about the game. The original publication date is April 28, 2020.