The Last Of Us is about making you think: “A single enemy can kill you, what would you really do?”

The Last Of Us Screens and art

Naughty Dog lead designer Ricky Cambier has spoken about the emphasis behind The Last Of Us‘ gameplay. “This [is a] world where a single enemy can kill you”, he explains, making the all important question: “What would you really have to do in this situation?”

“It’s sneak past or die, kill or be killed”

According to Cambier the desire to make players face these hard choices resulted in, “exploring some new territory,” for the Naughty Dogs. It also meant the team had to rethink certain elements of design. “Making the systems for this game has proven to be hard,” says Cambier, “and that’s exciting. We’re trying something a little different, something we’re really interested in playing”.

The survival ethic has played a large part in shaping the game systems he explains. “We want you to think: in a world with limited supplies, if you ran into these things, what would you really have to do in this situation, knowing that it’s sneak past or die, kill or be killed? They’re going to kill you, and you have someone who you care about to protect – what are you going to do?”

The Last Of Us’ lead designer Ricky Cambier

Part of impressing this danger and threat on the player comes from the sound design (read our hands on preview with The Last Of Us to find out why that’s so terrifying). “Sound has always been really important in Naughty Dog games”, Cambier reminds us, saying of The Last Of Us, “I think people are surprised by how much info they’re getting through sound”.

Where a single
enemy can kill you,
when you hear that
enemy, you’re scared.
You need to move,
to go and hide

It’s not just an atmospheric touch in The Last Of Us as the use of sound in-game is a crucial part of the mechanics. “Now you have a world where enemies are really affected by sound, and you are as well. In this world, where a single enemy can kill you, when you hear that enemy, you’re scared – like, you need to move, to go and hide. And [because] these enemies, which people call Clickers, track you with echolocation, they’re using sound to find you, it’s integral in a way people aren’t necessarily used to”.

The most important thing however is how all these elements tie together. “We’ve got the crafting, we’ve got new combat, we’ve got Listen mode,” lists Cambier (Joel’s ability to ‘see’ creatures through noise and  effectively a X-Ray mode), “We’ve got all these different things that are all going to combine to create this grounded universe that is very lethal, very dangerous”. Something director Bruce Straley recently confirmed when he said that running away in The Last Of Us was a “valid tactic”.

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