The Last of Us Part II official story trailer might have showcased a more deadly, violent Ellie than ever before but today’s official The Last of Us Part II gameplay trailer courtesy of Sony and Naughty Dog reveals some much more crucial changes that set the sequel apart from the first installment.
“How do we make you feel like you’re not the strongest person in the room?” Game Director Neil Druckmann says in the video. “But you still should be able to rise to the challenge and survive a fight with a bunch of people that are bigger than you.”
Druckmann is of course, contrasting Ellie’s modus operandi in The Last of Us Part II to the first The Last of Us, where players primarily assumed the role of Joel, a tough, middle-aged man who relied on his physical prowess to get him through much of the game’s obstacles. “[She’s] very small and more nimble compared to Joel,” Druckmain explains before divulging one of Ellie’s unique features: “We added a jump button … Ellie can jump. The combat scenarios are much more vertical. Ellie can use elevation to her advantage.”
Ostensibly this might not seem like a big deal, but adding a jump button to The Last of Us Part II should make a marked difference in the gameplay experience of the sequel compared to the first title. Most obviously jumping opens up a whole new plane of verticality to the world design but enemy encounters will also have an added level of diversity to them as well. And that’s not even mentioning Ellie’s prone/crawling abilities.
Yes, Ellie will now be able to lie prone on the ground as well as crawl to move around. From this position she’ll have full access to her inventory, which opens up a whole new world of stealth approach to The Last of Us Part II experience.
“Something so simple — again something that in real life you’d be able to do — letting the player have access to all their weapons, item, crafting, everything while in that position, it creates so many more emergent things in gameplay,” Co-Game Director Kurt Margenau says.
Ellie won’t be limited to “just hiding in vegetation,” as Druckmann elaborates. Manmade things (including the underside of a bridge, as shown in the trailer), collapsed structures and other architecture are all open game to Ellie’s newfound subterfuge. However, don’t think you can just roll around in the grass all day; enemy A.I. will be able to detect Ellie from her hiding spots and drag her from hidings spots — like from underneath a truck, kicking and screaming — if she doesn’t keep it moving.
Dodging will add another crucial element to The Last of Us Part II gameplay. “Now, with dodge, any time you’re in a scuffle, you have a chance to get away [or] to counterattack,” Margenau says. “It lets escape be an option as well. Sometimes you just gotta run.”
Players will be able to run more effectively than ever thanks to the much more expansive, explorable environments. One aspect of the original The Last of Us that made the game seem perhaps a little too rigid in structure was the fact that it was nearly impossible to miss any battle encounters or story moments. While The Last of Us Part II won’t be a full open world like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Ellie will still be able to roam.
“That pushed us to make our level design even more open than it was in the first game,” Co-Game Director Anthony Newman says. “We’ve gone so far that there are actually entire story moments, entire combat encounters, full scripted sequences that you may completely miss.”
Another interesting addition to The Last of Us Part gameplay comes from the video’s implication that players will be able to revisit earlier parts of the game with upgraded inventory in what may be an alternate version of gameplay, although the main method of playing will require the player to make important and lasting inventory choices.
“There aren’t enough resources in a single playthrough to fully upgrade your character,” Newman says.
What do you think of the new additions to the The Last of Us Part II gameplay? Will the ability to jump, duck, dodge and crawl add a new element of stealth and enjoyability to the gameplay?
The Last of Us Part II releases exclusively on Playstation 4 on June 19th, 2020.