The Last of Us Part II‘s director has revealed how the evolution of infected and human enemies will create a brutal, grim, and emotional experience.
In an interview with PlayStation.Blog, game director Neil Druckmann revealed that The Last of Us Part II‘s protagonist, Ellie, will confront a new infected enemy surrounded by hazardous vapor—The Shambler. Additionally, Druckmann carefully considered the world’s lore before adding the new creature.
“In the first game, there is all this documentation about the different stages [of the infection], now we have to justify why there are different stages. […] There is something about the environment and how much time has passed that has allowed these mutations to occur.”
Druckmann elaborated, “Shamblers provide this area of attack, where they have this cloud of gaseous acid that burns materials around it. […] It gets really interesting because you have a cloud that hurts you when you enter it, but it also blocks your view, then Runners burst through it. So, the combinations get really interesting.”
Developer Naughty Dog has also added new gameplay mechanics for human enemies, too. Some enemies will have guard dogs with acute senses, able to sniff out Ellie. Druckmann confirmed the studio included animals like dogs to create a tougher challenge whilst triggering an emotional response from the player.
“Dogs are a way to evolve human enemies. […] They can rely on the sense of smell, and as Ellie moves around, she leaves behind this [scent] that fades over time, but if the dog picks up the trail, he can find you wherever you’re hiding in a way that a human on their own can’t.” Druckmann continued, “But there is something when you kill a dog that makes you feel worse than when you kill a human.”
Fighting guard dogs is just one of many examples of how Naughty Dog has tried to create an authentic, emotional, and grim game. The Last of Us Part II adds several new layers designed to connect players’ morality with their in-game actions.
“We want to treat violence as realistically as we can in an action game,” said Druckmann. “One example is that every human enemy in the game features a unique name, such as Omar or Joe. The way they communicate is much more sophisticated. We do that in order to make you feel it’s not just like an NPC or braindead obstacle.”
Furthermore, if players kill an enemy, their friends may scream their name in grief. Some may also become enraged in combat. Therefore, all the layers combine to create a brutal, and grim, but realistic experience.
The Last of Us Part II‘s trailer aired during Sony’s State of Play last month, as well as the game’s release date (February 2020).