Naughty Dog discuss original The Last Of Us story & ending

The Last Of Us concept art

Warning! Spoilers ahead obviously if you haven’t finished the game. Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann has been expanded on the original story for The Last of Us after teasing a tweeted image with the words, “See how it originally ended.”


Naughty Dog discuss original The Last Of Us story & ending

The first story arc saw a Joel and Tess as enemies following some sort of betrayal. As a result Joel’s partner would pursue him and Ellie across the US for revenge. This original plot saw Ellie as a more innocent character too, not killing any non-infected people until a climatic scene that saw Tess Torturing Joel, and Ellie killing her to save him. “What we realised is that we had to get Ellie engaged more in the combat because when she was disengaged from the action for that long you didn’t care so much,” explains Druckmann. As a result the story shifted from, “the first time she killed someone,” to a, “coming of age story of the impact that the horrors of violence has on her over the course of the game”.

joel_ellie_hiding_the_last_of_us_610The original idea of Tess in “a villain role” ultimately never panned out because it failed to fully explain the reason Joel was travelling. “We had a tough time understanding why Joel would take this journey,” explains Druckmann. “We also had a hard time buying that Tess would go on a vendetta. We could understand her pursuing Joel a little bit, but why would she go for a year around the country?”

As a result Tess’ final placing in the story shifted to “more of a believer [who] helped motivate Joel.” The move, according to Druckman solved the problems surround the ‘why?’ of Joel’s journey. “Her dying wish to Joel is to do this one good thing”, says Druckmann, “‘Help me do this one good thing so my soul can rest because I’ve done all these horrible things.’”

The original ending was more hopeful, where Joel & Ellie make it to San Francisco: a town run by people who are trying to restore society

While the original story was much darker it actually finished on a more positive note, with Joel and Ellie settling in San Francisco. “The original ending was a much more hopeful ending, where Joel and Ellie make it to San Francisco and that is a town run by people who are trying to restore society. The camera pulls back and maybe everything is going to be alright for these two”. According to Druckmann elements of the final story prevented this working. “Joel has killed all these doctors and lied to Ellie, and Ellie just fully buys into the lie. So, you’re left with the idea that they are going to live the rest of their lives in this town. I was working on writing, and it didn’t feel honest any more. After everything they’ve done and everything they’ve been through, that was letting them off a little too easy – especially for Joel.”

Apparently this ending didn’t go down well with testers either. “When we did focus testing, at least initially until some of the hospital stuff started coming together, it tested very poorly. People said it’s unclear, anticlimactic, unsatisfying… A lot of people at the company felt the same way. A few designers didn’t like the ending I had in mind. But then, as time passed and they thought about it, they came around and really appreciated. I think that happened with other people, too.”

Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley will making a presentation called ‘Pitching The Last Of Us’ at PAX Prime on August 30th.

Thanks Videogamer