The June 19 release date for Naughty Dog's long-awaited sequel, The Last of Us Part II, is just around the corner. In a wide-ranging interview about the already controversial PS4 exclusive, director Neil Druckmann discussed his reaction to the recent plot leaks, his ambitions for the project, and the possibilities ahead. He revealed that those plans may include The Last of Us Part III.
In a June 9 interview with GQ's Sam White, Druckmann said he's already given some thought to what comes next in the ruined, near-future world of Joel and Ellie.
“As you start wrapping things up, creatively there are fewer and fewer responsibilities and my mind can’t help but think about the next thing,” he says. “So, yeah, the next thing could be a Part III, the next thing could be some new IP."
That's far from a solid confirmation that the series will continue, but at this point it seems like a pretty safe bet. HBO recently ordered a pilot based on the franchise, which will be directed by Johan Renck, known for his work on Chernobyl, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Druckmann will write the pilot alongside Renck's Chernobyl collaborator Craig Mazin. If the HBO show gets a full-season order, that's likely to spark interest in the games amongst a broader audience, as was the case with The Witcher on Netflix.
There's another big clue that we haven't seen the last of Last of Us: Sony's recent PlayStation Studios announcement is a pretty obvious sign that the company intends to go all-in on expanding its IP beyond games in the coming years. We've only seen a small part of this world, with Ellie and Joel in the first game operating in relative isolation. Even though much of the population has been decimated by the Cordyceps infection, there are still countless new faces to meet and stories to tell within this rich setting.
At a glance, Druckmann's comments also suggest something about the ending of The Last of Us Part II — not so much what happens, but what doesn't happen. If Part III is top of mind for Druckmann, this seems to suggest that the Cordyceps infection isn't eliminated or brought under control by the end of the second game. That's been pretty well telegraphed by the game's trailers so far, but it's pretty clear TLOU 2 isn't going to have the kind of happily ever after ending that Nathan Drake found at the end of Uncharted 4.
The Last of Us Part II comes to PS4 June 19.