With the massive success of the Last of Us, it would not be surprising if Naughty Dog decided to come back to the series to further extend the story. Many fans already claim that that it is a complete and comprehensive gaming experience. Despite that, it would hard to deny that such a successful and therefore financially lucrative franchise would be ended with the HD remastered version. So if the folks behind The Last of Us do decide to continue the story, what is likely to happen next?
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The Last of Us 2: Beyond the Fireflies
Naughty Dog’s highly acclaimed The Last of Us ended with an emotionally charged rush that left many players wondering what happens next. While the whole game centered on the task of bringing Ellie to the Fireflies in order to create a cure, a final twist right at the very end completely flipped the tables on protagonist Joel’s motivations. There are already speculations and rumors about what can be done for a continuation story either on DLC or a full sequel, and there are those who think that the book on Ellie and Joel’s story has already ended. But before we can discuss what happens next, we have to look at the final moments of the original game.
How The Last of Us Ended
The Last of Us introduced us to Joel, a black market smuggler who escorted Ellie through an ardous trek across post apocalyptic America into the hands of the militant rebel forces of the Fireflies. Since Ellie has an immunity to the cordyceps infection that has plagued the world, the goal is that a cure can be cultivated from her. The journey is far and long, spanning the course of a year –and in that year, the two develop a bond much like that of a father and daughter. Upon reaching the Fireflies, Joel learns that Ellie’s brain will have to be harvested into order to study a potential cure –a procedure that will undoubtedly kill her. With Ellie unaware of this fact, Joel attacks the Fireflies and rescues her. As they head back to the camp of Joel’s brother, he lies to Ellie about what happened with the Fireflies. He tells her that there are other immune people like her, that the plan to create a cure has been a failure, and that the Fireflies have given up. Ellie demands to know if what Joel said was true, and he says yes.
Continuing the Story
If The Last of Us 2 ever decides to pick up the story after the ending of the first game, then there are a few obvious considerations. The first would be if Ellie would eventually discover the truth of what happened at the Firefly base. While communication between survivor groups is minimal, we know that Tommy, Joel’s brother (and the person who co-runs the camp they are in), was a former Firefly. There is also the fact that Tommy is also aware of Joel’s original mission and Ellie’s immunity. While he has shown absolute loyalty to his brother no matter the odds, it is still possible that through him, Ellie might learn that Joel lied to her.
Ellie’s determination to get the cure at possible the cost of her life is a point of contention among fans –after all, she never directly knew that it was exactly on the line. However, a prior dialogue sequence did show that she might have been willing to give everything up to give humanity a chance to find a cure. Joel certainly noticed that determination and it was probably why he lied.
It would not be surprising if The Last of Us 2 would be seeing Ellie going off on her own to seek out other Fireflies or other groups that could help use her immunity to make a cure.
The second factor is the Fireflies. It has been established in the first game that they are a pretty big group. While the ones at the hospital had been constantly pushed back from one location to another, and Marlene’s original group has been decimated, there are other branches. It is likely that they are aware of the attack, though whether they know about Joel and Ellie, as well as their locations remains to be seen.
A New Direction
One favorite option among fans is the possibility that The Last of Us 2 will not be about Ellie and Joel at all, but about all new characters whose stories either run parallel to the events of the first game or provides a continuation of the story.
A good way to make the second game would be to allow the players to create their own Firefly member. This would certainly be a little challenging for the developers since Naughty Dog is able to fully flesh out original characters –but if the folks at BioWare had been able to give Commander Shepard a great delivery in Mass Effect, then it should be possible.
As a member of the Fireflies, the player should be part of a small group sent to help Tess, Joel, and Ellie. And in so doing, they start out roughly tracing the same path that the players did in the first game. Of course, being the wild world that it is, the player eventually loses track of the Joel and Ellie, and are forced to confront challenges of their own. By the time they track the two down to the hospital, Joel would have already left with Ellie and it is up to the player to investigate and piece together the events that led to the attack. Now this is where the game should get interesting: it is up to the players to decide to hunt down Ellie and Joel, or, they can seek out the two and help them escape from the Fireflies (chances are, it will be the latter).
The ability to make key decisions in the story has been taken away by the developers in order to tell a specific tale. While that is a powerful narrative technique that helps mold the story in the best possible way to be delivered, it also reminds players that with Joel and Ellie, they are simply audiences to the story. Being able to decide what your character does puts you into the game in a very unique way.
One of the best things about the original game was that it had such a polished gameplay system. As such, there is really not much to be done in terms of improving it. This means that for The Last of Us 2, the developers can expand on the crafting and combat system more. We can expect the crafting of new items –such as special arrows to be useful in the game (oh, how often we wished we had a shiv-upgraded arrows to shoot at Clickers, or exploding ones for Bloaters). And a chance to upgrade the backpack would be nice to help carry even more stuff.
For battles, one great way to improve the game would to add new melee attacks that incorporate the use of guns –if you can use a shiv to break out of a Clicker hold, then why not be able use the handgun you are already holding? Joel has a lot of execution special moves with the Triangle button for his fists, why not one with a different button for using a faster weapon based attack?