Naughty Dog offered gamers a look at The Last of Us Part II’s story on Wednesday for the first time since the game’s major plot points were leaked online. For anyone who knows what happens, the new "Inside the Story" mini-doc offers a lot of context for some of the game's bigger twists.
This article contains major spoilers for The Last of Us Part 2. Read on at your own discretion.
Sony released the first video in a four-part series that gradually reveals more about the highly anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusive as the June 19 release date approaches. This first "Inside the Story" video explores the initial plot setup for the entire game, confirming many publicly available detail while also giving us a first-hand look at the settlement of Jackson 25 years after the initial outbreak. It also more or less confirms the leaked plot details we learned about early in May while providing further context.
Naughty Dog was careful not to outrightly mention any details from the story that were spoiled, but the video includes hints at when, where, and how the leaked pieces of story fit into the game’s bigger picture.
Spoilers ahead. From this point on, this article will discuss The Last of Us Part 2 story leaks in detail.
Joel’s role — While the video heavily focuses on Ellie and how the TLOU 2 will be a gruesome story of revenge, in general, the developers do touch on some details related to Joel. They all but confirm what the leaks told us about what will happen to him in the sequel.
"Joel is also very settled down. He’s now part of a town and no longer a smuggler,” said writer and co-director Neil Druckmann in the video. “The town relies on this guy that is a very capable killer. That’s something that these towns and this world need.”
Based on the leaks, we know that Joel will be murdered by Abby, the other playable character who was introduced during the game’s Paris Games Week 2017 trailer. The spoilers revealed that Abby is the daughter of the surgeon Joel killed at the very end of the first game during his mission to rescue Ellie.
The perspective switch to Abby happens about halfway through TLOU 2, according to a level list also included in the leaks. This will culminate in players fighting Ellie and Dinah as Abby. This change in viewpoint seems to be Naughty Dog commenting on how the cyclical nature of revenge can make a villain out of anyone.
This was heavily hinted in the video when Druckmann mentions that Ellie and her new home — a settlement in Jackson, Wyoming — will be faced with a devastating incident.
“Then Jackson and Ellie are shaken by a violent event," he says. "It really changes Ellie’s day-to-day life and now just living is no longer enough. There are these people that have wronged her and she wants retribution and you as a player are going to want retribution for what these people have done.”
The Inverse Analysis — Before the leaks and this video, Naughty Dog had only revealed two parts of TLOU 2 via limited demo sessions with certain publications. The game will take players from Ellie’s peaceful home in Jackson to the overgrown streets of Seattle, Washington where warring factions have fragmented the city. But how exactly will all of that go down?
TLOU 2 demos begin with Ellie and her budding love interest, Dinah, setting off for a routine supply mission. That’s when they get separated in a snowstorm, but they manage to reunite in what Kotaku described as an abandoned daycare that doubled as a weed growhouse. They share an intimate moment (and a joint), then the demo cuts to Ellie traversing the streets of Seattle trying not to get spotted by the Western Liberation Front (WLF), a militant xenophobic group that controls most of the city.
It seems that Joel’s murder happens either directly after Ellie and Dinah reunite with each other in the snowstorm, or sometime shortly thereafter. The game’s trailers have shown Ellie being ambushed by a group of people when they enter a snazzy-looking cabin while it's snowing outside. She’s is pinned down by two men and forced to watch something horrible happen, which after the leaks, we can only assume is Joel's murder.
There are still a lot of details missing here, but it seems that disaster strikes Ellie quite soon after a peaceful beginning to TLOU 2. That would echo the start of the original game, when Joel's daughter is killed in the game's prologue.
The Last of Us Part II will be released on the PlayStation 4 on June 19, 2020.