Massive spoilers for The Last of Us Part 2 follow. If you haven’t finished playing, turn back now!
Speaking to IGN ahead of The Last of Us Part 2’s release, director Neil Druckmann explained the philosophy the team took with the original game, and how it led to Part 2’s key goals.
“You don’t necessarily agree with what [Joel’s] doing, but we saw that the majority of people understood what he’s doing and now they’re role-playing as him,” Druckmann said. “’I might not do this but I understand why Joel would. So I’m going to see the world through his eyes.’ There’s something unique about the empathy that is created in video games, it’s wholly unique.
“Can we build a whole experience around this concept,” Druckmann said, explaining what he and the team ventured out to do with Part 2. “Can we make you hate someone to such a degree that you want to hurt them in really horrible ways for what they’ve done to you? And then all of a sudden make you play as them and, the challenge was, can we get you to empathize?”
The Last of Us Part 2 Review Screenshots
Of course, Part 2 includes the dramatic gameplay shift of its second half, putting players in control of Abby, first introduced early in the sequel as someone successfully hunting Joel to kill him. The second half, both in the present and in flashbacks, explores Abby’s life and motivations, which Druckmann explained allowed them to dive into the themes of revenge from multiple perspectives.
“I don’t know if you’re going to like [Abby] necessarily. We hope you do, but can we really get you to understand them? And that’s where the second half of the game [goes], you’re playing as someone that goes on their own journey of redemption. You get to see revenge from two sides,” he said.And moreso than just exploring revenge, which is what most of The Last of Us Part 2’s early marketing focused on, Druckmann explained how the dual perspectives allowed them to explore the flip side of that — forgiveness.
“It’s a game about empathy and forgiveness and getting past grief and seeing other people for the more complex human beings they are. That’s what got us excited about making this,” Druckmann said.
Stay tuned to IGN for more from Druckmann on the sequel, and if you haven’t already be sure to check out IGN’s The last of Us Part 2 review. For more on the Naughty Dog sequel, read our dive into The Last of Us Part 2’s accessibility features, how much The Last of Us Part 2 sold in its debut weekend, and why the sequel probably won’t get DLC. And if you’re playing, be sure to check out IGN’s comprehensive The Last of Us Part 2 guide for help with collectibles, Trophies, and more.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, Host of Podcast Beyond!, and can’t stop hearing Pearl Jam in his head now. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.