Neil Druckmann Explains Why Joel And Ellie Are Returning In ‘The Last Of Us: Part 2’

Last weekend’s PlayStation Experience event ended up being quite a show for Naughty Dog — the Sony-owned studio known for creating and developing the Crash Bandicoot series, the Uncharted series, and The Last of Us— as they announced two new games: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last of Us: Part 2.

Leading up to the reveal trailer for The Last of Us: Part 2, which you can check out right here, there was a ton of speculation surrounding the game’s plot. One of the biggest questions surrounding the game was would Joel and Ellie — who were the main protagonists in the first game — be brought back in the second game? The question was often asked because there are a good amount of people who feel that the characters’ journey ended in the first game, and that they shouldn’t be brought back if Naughty Dog decides to do a second game.

In an interview with PlayStation Magazine, which took place prior to PlayStation Experience, Neil Druckmann — who is the creative director at Naughty Dog — said that he had been considering doing a second Last of Us game without Joel and Ellie. So, that led many to believe that the two characters wouldn’t be brought back if the studio developed a sequel.

During a recent panel following PlayStation Experience, Druckmann explained his decision to bring Joel and Ellie back for the second game, and he also addressed the fans of the first game who think bringing them back is a bad idea.

“So much thought went into this, and I know there’s a lot of people that feel this trepidation about coming back to these characters, and revisiting what that ending means, and worrying about if that’s gonna spoil the first game. You have to understand, we feel all those things as well — no one loves these characters more than we do, and we would not do this if we didn’t feel like we had the right idea.

“I played with so many other ideas with other characters and it never felt right. The Last of Us is about these two characters specifically. So yeah, the part 2 is saying ‘this is gonna be a larger story.’ This is a complimentary story to the first game, but the two together are gonna tell this much larger tale.”

Druckmann was later asked if any future Last of Us games, assuming they come out with a third one after Part 2, could be successful without Joel and Ellie, to which he replied by saying “no,” and adding that Joel and Ellie are the “heart and soul” of the series.

He was also asked about when we’ll be able to play The Last of Us: Part 2, and while he did say that Naughty Dog does have a release date in mind, he doesn’t want to reveal it yet. But, the popular opinion is that it could be released as early as next year, or as late as 2018.

The Naughty Dog studio has already been working on The Last of Us: Part 2 for nearly two years, so it’s not exactly in the early stages of development.

While working on The Last of Us: Part 2 is still Naughty Dog’s top priority, there’s still several more updates coming out for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, including the aforementioned single player expansion entitled The Lost Legacy, which features Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross. So, expect to see plenty of Naughty Dog related content to be released over the next year, and, who knows? Maybe we’ll be able to get our hands on The Last of Us: Part 2 by the end of 2017.

[Featured Image by Sony Interactive Entertainment]