With a wildly successful TV adaptation, The Last of Us has done the unthinkable and proven that it is possible to make a good show based on a video game. Add to that the recent remake of the first game smashing sales records, and surely, you must be thinking, this momentum will lead to another single player TLoU game? According to series co-creator Neil Druckmann, however, that’s not what developer Naughty Dog is working on right now outside of an unannounced project and the upcoming TLoU multiplayer title, often referred to as “Factions.”
In the last few decades, Naughty Dog has built its brand as one of the most ambitious and successful developers of PlayStation exclusives. Enjoying great success with the iconic Crash Bandicoot series on the first console, following that up with Jak & Daxter in the PS2 era, and then going on to make the much-loved Uncharted and The Last of Us series for PS3 and PS4, it’s hard not to get excited over a Naughty Dog title. But while the developer has turned single entries into successful franchises with multiple sequels, a singleplayer follow up to 2020’s The Last of Us: Part II is reportedly not what the team is actively working on.
Naughty Dog is not working on The Last of Us: Part III
In an interview with Kinda Funny following the season finale of HBO’s The Last of Us, Druckmann reflected on the changes the studio has made, which includes a creative process that avoids wasting time working on things the team isn’t actively interested in. And sometimes that includes not chasing the momentum of past successes.
Asked by Blessing Adeoye Jr. whether the momentum of the successful TV adaptation means that Naughty Dog feels pressure to “keep hitting these homeruns,” Druckmann said:
I am very lucky that I don’t have to think like that. I joined a studio that was already so successful that we could be kinda prima donnas and just do whatever we want. I know not everyone has that privilege, but it’s not something I take lightly. So at the end of every project, we purposefully explore several different projects. Some of them might be a sequel, and then a bunch of new ideas, and then we [ask] ‘where do our passions lie’? Because that’s the fire that has to sustain for years to come. And if you pick the wrong projects and then you burn out from that idea because you weren’t passionate about it […] you’re fucked. That’s how I think you make mediocre anything, if you lose your excitement for it.
Druckmann has made similar statements previously regarding speculation over a possible sequel to Part II. While he’s never shut the door on it entirely, he has said that “if we can’t come up with something, we have a very strong ending with Part II and that will be the end.” Many might remember that Druckmann expressed similar thoughts after the first game, where TLoU’s world is “ripe for more stories:”
As far as whether we come back to Joel and Ellie or not, or whether we come back to the world or not, that’s all up in the air. I can tell you there are people in the studio that would love to come back to these characters, but the only way we would do it would be if we had something new, something meaningful to say. Because the last thing we would want to do is repeat ourselves.
But of course, many don’t want it to be “the end.” Fortunately, though, there is some new Last of Us coming, just not a single player game. Though he acknowledged that “the fans really want The Last of Us: Part III,” and that he can’t say what single player game Naughty Dog is actively working on next, the “thing we were most excited for,” according to Druckmann, is not another sequel to The Last of Us. Druckmann did say that Naughty Dog expects to share more information about the upcoming multiplayer entry into The Last of Us, however, which he previously described as “the most ambitious project we’ve ever done.”
Druckmann described the upcoming multiplayer entry into TLoU’s universe as “the first Last of Us game that [he’s] not the primary writer [or director for].” He stated that this lets him “see it more from the side and play more of a producer role and more of a mentor role, and that, to [him], is exciting.”
A third season is not greenlit, but The Last of Us will span ‘multiple seasons’
As was reported earlier this week, the events of The Last of Us: Part II, which cover way more characters and events than the first game, are expected to take place over multiple seasons. Druckmann stated that this doesn’t confirm that a season three has been greenlit, but that the process of adapting this much larger story, which he said will factor in potential changes based on what will make the story better for TV. He did add that he and series co-creator Craig Mazin have an idea of how long it will take, but that Part II’s adaptation is still a very early concept.
Druckmann also addressed questions from Greg Miller concerning the presence of a certain song in The Last of Us: Part II, Pearl Jam’s “Future Days,” which was released in 2013. Given the time shift in the television series to 2003 as the year the outbreak occurred, that song technically can’t exist. Druckmann said that they have discussed whether this song could or should appear in the next season, but that the timeline change complicates things.
Druckmann acknowledged that it “makes no sense for Joel to know that song,” and that they could say “it’s a parallel dimension and the song came out earlier […] but that feels a little bit like a cheat.”
So while a decision hasn’t been made, the presence and impact of “Future Days” is being talked about for season two. I, for one would, nominate Joel sing Metallica’s “St. Anger,” as it both came out in 2003 and obviously it was playing in his head while he was rampaging through that hospital. Go play the song over that scene and tell me I’m wrong.
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