The Last of Us 2 is Better off Using New Characters

The harrowing journey of Joel and Ellie will forever be etched in our minds, it’s a story about regular people thrust into an impossible situation and the difficult choices one must make in order to survive. Naughty Dog truly crafted a masterpiece that will continue to set the standard for interactive storytelling in games but are they finished with Joel and Ellie’s story? I think so. What more could you do with them?

I suppose we can follow them to Tommy’s and see how they adjust to this new, safer environment. We can see how Ellie grows up and how she deals with Joel’s lies about the fireflies; if she ever finds out. Maybe Tommy’s makeshift fortress gets overrun and infiltrated by an army of Hunters or maybe someone gets bitten and doesn’t tell anyone? What if Joel dies and teenage Ellie is forced to leave Tommy’s place after it gets uninhabitable?


All of these scenarios are very compelling and many fans would be delighted to play as Ellie again for a full 15-hour campaign but wouldn’t Naughty Dog be writing themselves into a corner by doing so? How can we further expand the universe Naughty Dog created and dig deeper into the outbreak if we’re only focusing on Ellie’s journey? Making a sequel allows Naughty Dog to tackle the outbreak in a completely different perspective. We can follow a mother and her kids, a hunter that is conflicted, or maybe a newly-wed couple who have to spend their first years of marriage in turmoil as the outbreak begins.

Naughty Dog can even center the new cast in the same timeline as Joel and Ellie’s adventure and give us a whole different perspective on the outbreak. It would be even cooler if during our journey we see Joel and Ellie going through their journey but from a distance; not only would it be nostalgic but a great callback to remind us that Joel and Ellie weren’t the only ones trying to survive this horrific incident.


The Joel and Ellie story was very self-contained and it was told masterfully from start to finish. The stories that would follow them post-campaign would be interesting but it would never hold the same weight or have the same impact of the first one. We need new characters dealing with the outbreak but on a much smaller scale. It doesn’t get any bigger than the scale of The Last of Us with mankind’s existence hinging on this 14-year old girl’s survival. Naughty Dog has the talent to create a smaller story but with huge consequences.

Think of Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road, a disturbing post-apocalyptic tale detailing the harrowing journey of a father and his son as they trek across the ravaged landscapes of what’s left of earth after an unspecified cataclysm wiped out almost all living things. It’s a tale that is told over a period of months as they struggle to survive in this new reality where no one can be trusted and food is at its scarcest. Neil Druckman, writer of The Last of Us, references The Road quite a bit when he talks about the inception of the game and how it helped shape Joel and Ellie’s struggle with dealing with a dying world.

The Road
2009 Film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

It would be great to have a sequel just focus on two or three characters just dealing with this new reality. No overarching goal or humanity-saving objective, just pure human stories intertwined with the backdrop of this cordyceps virus. Hopefully, Naughty Dog can avoid the trappings of clichéd social drama that is so rampant on television shows like The Walking Dead or Revolution, and instead tell stories of how these people view this world and how they interact with each other as they survive day to day. The Walking Dead does an excellent job of setting the stage and atmosphere but it’s hard to care about such a large roster of characters; many of which are downright unlikeable.

Naughty Dog can also tell the story from the very beginning of the outbreak. The Last of Us touched on this for a tiny bit at the beginning but then flash-forwarded to 20 years later. To me personally, the most interesting parts of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic stories are the beginning and how people deal with it from the very start. This would be a great angle to explore further and longer in a sequel since the very short segment in The Last of Us intro was quite good.  We can learn so much about the new characters by seeing what they did and how they were before the outbreak and how the pandemic gradually changes them into different people. It could be a very compelling storytelling technique instead of flash-forwarding.


Whatever happens with the sequel, it’s safe to say that Naughty Dog will certainly deliver a powerful and memorable story. The Last of Us has been very successful for Sony with the remastered edition selling over 1 million copies.  There will definitely be a sequel. But will see Ellie again? And if we will, is she on her own or back with Joel? Here’s hoping we get new characters and a completely new perspective on the outbreak. After all, wouldn’t you like to know what else was happening during Joel and Ellie’s journey?

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