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Opinion Spoilers Game Dev Naughty Dog On The Last Of Us Part II’s Controversy, Characters, And Ending

IbizaPocholo

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In this Game Informer podcast extra, we have a spoiler-filled interview with The Last of Us Part II’s creative director Neil Druckmann and narrative lead Halley Gross. The Last of Us Part II is one of the biggest releases of the year and has generated a bit of controversy, so we talk to Neil and Halley about their process, how they put the game together, and some of the things that changed along the way.
 

Ellery

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At around 31:00 forward is the interesting part most people probably want to hear. The rumors/leaks and how misinformation spread and turned it into a "cultural war". Naughty Dog's perspective and how they were prepared to have people dislike some elements of the game (in the same sense as the ending of the first The Last of Us), but never imagined people going as far as death threats to the developers and voice actors.

Also interesting about some technical and mechanical features they are talking about that never meant it into the game. Like Ellie having a dog and using it during gameplay.

Looks like in the porch scene Ellie was supposed to hug Joel but Ashley Johnson thought it wasn't a good and Ellie wasn't ready to hug Joel. I think that was a good decision and Ashley was right on the money with that one being better (the one we have in the game now) than a hug.
 

Blood Borne

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At around 31:00 forward is the interesting part most people probably want to hear. The rumors/leaks and how misinformation spread and turned it into a "cultural war". Naughty Dog's perspective and how they were prepared to have people dislike some elements of the game (in the same sense as the ending of the first The Last of Us), but never imagined people going as far as death threats to the developers and voice actors.

Also interesting about some technical and mechanical features they are talking about that never meant it into the game. Like Ellie having a dog and using it during gameplay.

Looks like in the porch scene Ellie was supposed to hug Joel but Ashley Johnson thought it wasn't a good and Ellie wasn't ready to hug Joel. I think that was a good decision and Ashley was right on the money with that one being better (the one we have in the game now) than a hug.
“I have an agenda” - Neil Druckmann.
He knew exactly what the fuck he was doing. The game reeks of agenda. Of course, people who send death threats are scum but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is inherently divisive due to its glaring and -in my opinion- disgusting agenda.
 

highrider

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I really wasn’t bothered by the few forced woke moments in the game, it didn’t detract from the experience for me. If anything I appreciated that female empowerment didn’t take the form of all the male characters being morons or uncontrollable and violent. They all get killed, but I consider it a small victory. Having played through it finally I guess I’m not seeing what all the hubbub is about, really good game imo. And I didn’t love the first one, I think it had a much better story. This one has much better gameplay though, so I’m good.
 

Bladed Thesis

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I mean, forget people being mad it was woke and whatnot. What about the awful writing?

Pregnant lesbian tells her lesbian lover "I'm pregnant, don't worry its not yours." Come on.... This is "my face is tired" levels of bad writing. This level of bad writing is throughout the game and really drags down an otherwise spectacular game.
 

Liamario

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I mean, forget people being mad it was woke and whatnot. What about the awful writing?

Pregnant lesbian tells her lesbian lover "I'm pregnant, don't worry its not yours." Come on.... This is "my face is tired" levels of bad writing. This level of bad writing is throughout the game and really drags down an otherwise spectacular game.
That was a joke.
 

peter42O

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Forgot all the bullshit surrounding the game and whatnot, for a franchise/series that's completely meant to be about the story and characters, TLOUP2 was average at best. Literally, everything else saved the game for me. I'm so happy that I have Ghost of Tsushima to wash out that shitty taste that I had after completing TLOUP2. Friday can't get here fast enough.
 

Woggleman

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I can accept that some people did not like the story but for the millionth time gays and strong women is not an agenda. If people think it is that is their problem. Media in general should not just showcase one group because some people will accuse them of having an agenda if any others are given the spotlight.
 

Ellery

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I really wasn’t bothered by the few forced woke moments in the game, it didn’t detract from the experience for me. If anything I appreciated that female empowerment didn’t take the form of all the male characters being morons or uncontrollable and violent. They all get killed, but I consider it a small victory. Having played through it finally I guess I’m not seeing what all the hubbub is about, really good game imo. And I didn’t love the first one, I think it had a much better story. This one has much better gameplay though, so I’m good.

I think TLOU2 is not getting enough praise for the gameplay. I found it to be a gigantic step up from the first game and the gameplay has a certain weight to it that goes really well with the tone and atmosphere of overall game.
The technical team at Naughty Dog is two steps ahead and it shows. For me the enjoyable side of the gameplay is not actually moving the character around and doing something special in some fancy action style of way, but rather all those little details coming together and being immersed into the raw brutality of the gameplay.
 

DForce

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“I have an agenda” - Neil Druckmann.
He knew exactly what the fuck he was doing. The game reeks of agenda. Of course, people who send death threats are scum but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is inherently divisive due to its glaring and -in my opinion- disgusting agenda.
Looks like you didn't watch it or you have no clue what happened when things were leaked.

Neil mentions YouTubers spreading fake spoilers and this is the source they were reading from.

As you can see, the plot is fake.

The outrage came from...
Abby killing Joel and then playing as her midway through the game to KILL Ellie.

People accused ND of

Killing Joel because they wanted to get rid of white-men and wanted a female-centric game. There was also no proof that Abby was a trans.

Many of the critics ND of pushing this agenda well before they knew about the story. You can't justify their initial hate when it was all based on lies.
 
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kingpotato

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Thanks for sharing! I though the game was really enjoyable. Didn't expect to end up not liking any of the characters lol. I don't think I understand the comments about "having an agenda"? I have to say I was really shocked that the game didn't do something more controversial given the hate that I was seeing while trying to avoid spoilers. I don't really understand what is so upsetting or why people feel something nefarious is going on.
 

ghairat

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I’ve said it before and I will say it once again, my issue is with Halley Gross. She doesn’t even have video game writing experience. Did she even play the first game? The game was good but sometimes I did not agree with the story decisions though... Also in some degree they probably had a “woke” checklist lol.
 

Woggleman

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I noticed when some youtubers were playing they kept saying that the game was anti-male including Angry Joe and I just don't see it. I am a straight white man myself and I fail to see where this assault on me is supposed to be. Some people really do have a zero sum mentality where they thing that if somebody else is rising up then they must be getting pushed down.
 

DForce

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Originally, I wasn't happy about what happened midway through the game.

Seattle Day 3 Spoiler

Jesse dying abruptly.

because there was no build up to his death and it just...happened.

They explained how death can be unpredictable and it can happen unceremoniously. I think that's believable and it really changed how I felt about how certain characters died in this game.
 

TMLT

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Gotta admit, I ended up liking Abby when going in I thought she was going to be an aggressively obnoxious archetypal strong womyn character. Obviously her body type is pretty ridiculous to the point of being somewhat distracting. although they do at one point give a passing justification for how she ended up like that which makes it sliiightly less ridiculous. But overall I found her to be a much more logical and sympathetic character than Ellie.
 

ZehDon

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...Naughty Dog's perspective and how they were prepared to have people dislike some elements of the game (in the same sense as the ending of the first The Last of Us)...
So, when Druckmann and co said they'd created a divisive story, they didn't actually mean divisive. They meant it in that pseudo-divisive "you'll give us a 10/10 and talk about it on your podcast where no one really has a divisive opinion and everyone agrees we're amazing" kinda "divisive".

Were they really unaware that they created a story in the literal sense of divisive ala "some people are going to detest this some people are going to enjoy it"? Surely they're not that out of touch. Say what you will about Rian Johnson, he at least knew and owned that he created a hand-grenade of a movie when he lobbed The Last Jedi into theaters.
 
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WellSheet

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I’d love to see/hear one of these interviews/features actually pose the OPPOSITE string of questions. Ask Neil full-on how the game seeks to push and agenda. I could care less that the guy has a major leftist agenda he wants to push out there and more that NO ONE will interview the guy and contest or ruffle their feathers. It’s like CNN interviewing Biden. They’re not going to push almost at all. The HUGE swath of gamers who have feelings contrary to what these developers and press/journalists think is tiring. It literally mirrors our media. It sucks there’s no
Opposing thoughts or viewpoints. Everyone just smiles and nods
 

Amiga

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Niel thinks he put together a competent story. most who played it disagree.

my opinion on the interview:
Niel :the marketing aim was to create a mystery.
-If the pieces of puzzle were never supposed to fit then it’s a cheap scam, not a clever mystery.
Niel : We had a religious scholar consult us.
-Is his name Sam Harris?
Niel :The character motivations are consistent.
-No, hardly anyone was consistent. This leads to failure in connecting with the characters.
Niel : We are not just trying to force things for plot.
-Yes you did, for almost the whole game.
Niel :If it’s inconsistent with the characters we will throw those ideas out.
-Obviously didn’t happen
Niel :Are we intrigued by Abby? Do we want to find out what happens next with her?
-No, please get it over with.
Niel : You are a bigot that needs to be educated. get to know Abby over 10 hours of fetch quest that have no point at the end. Anyway, sorry Haley I’ve blabbered on for a bit you can take it from here
Haley: I think..
Niel: So this bunch of Angry anti-SJW Youtubers corrupted the judgment of many people out there, they couldn’t get over their prejudice and just had to ruin it for everybody.
 

Amiga

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So, when Druckmann and co said they'd created a divisive story, they didn't actually mean divisive. They meant it in that pseudo-divisive "you'll give us a 10/10 and talk about it on your podcast where no one really has a divisive opinion and everyone agrees we're amazing" kinda "divisive".

Were they really unaware that they created a story in the literal sense of divisive ala "some people are going to detest this some people are going to enjoy it"? Surely they're not that out of touch. Say what you will about Rian Johnson, he at least knew and owned that he created a hand-grenade of a movie when he lobbed The Last Jedi into theaters.

If Druckmann didn't reject play-testers for ideological reasons, maybe he would get a better picture of the market.
 

Bartski

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I have to say I was really shocked that the game didn't do something more controversial given the hate that I was seeing while trying to avoid spoilers.
Same here. Having played the game relatively unspoiled, the only thing that was messing with my experience was expecting the plot to go to shit any second with something that justifies all the outrage, all the way to the credits.
 

Woggleman

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Honestly some things like the sex scene were sort of a letdown. I expected some disgusting hardcore porn and what I got was a mildly M rated scene.
 
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Bartski

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I was expecting Joel to come out as gay or that big chick from the trailer raping everyone in Jackson with her giant penis
 
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Bragr

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“I have an agenda” - Neil Druckmann.
He knew exactly what the fuck he was doing. The game reeks of agenda. Of course, people who send death threats are scum but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is inherently divisive due to its glaring and -in my opinion- disgusting agenda.
What do you feel is the worst part of the agenda?
 

Bragr

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I noticed when some youtubers were playing they kept saying that the game was anti-male including Angry Joe and I just don't see it. I am a straight white man myself and I fail to see where this assault on me is supposed to be. Some people really do have a zero sum mentality where they thing that if somebody else is rising up then they must be getting pushed down.
He said it was anti-male? are you sure?
 

Bragr

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I can accept that some people did not like the story but for the millionth time gays and strong women is not an agenda. If people think it is that is their problem. Media in general should not just showcase one group because some people will accuse them of having an agenda if any others are given the spotlight.
I agree with this, but Naughty Dog has egged on gamers for a while now, half their staff is on twitter calling gamers nazis, incels and fascists and whatnot on the daily. It's no wonder they have awoken the ire of the angry internet nerds. They really need some better media tranining.
 
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REE Machine

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“I have an agenda” - Neil Druckmann.
He knew exactly what the fuck he was doing. The game reeks of agenda. Of course, people who send death threats are scum but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is inherently divisive due to its glaring and -in my opinion- disgusting agenda.
Still trying to figure out what agenda people say the game conveyed which we already didnt know before the game was released lol
We knew ellie is gay
Abby is buff etc
So what agenda is there that is reeked throughout the game
 
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REE Machine

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I can accept that some people did not like the story but for the millionth time gays and strong women is not an agenda. If people think it is that is their problem. Media in general should not just showcase one group because some people will accuse them of having an agenda if any others are given the spotlight.
Not even that, we had gay people and strong women in the first game and no one threw up their arms and made a scene
 
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Woggleman

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Not even that, we had gay people and strong women in the first game and no one threw up their arms and made a scene
2013 was a very different time plus Bill was not the main protagonist and Ellie's sexuality did not come into play until Left Behind. Even then some people thought it was just a phase.
 
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captainraincoat

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They knew people were going to hate the story and how its executed ....if this was because of delays/direction issues or key people not being there from the first game we will never really know but the fact Neil went out and pushed the sjw agenda to the front to use as a shield for people that hate the story was punishing gamers

Sjw hate gamers

I got my son excited for part 2 as he never played part 1 so he went through and beat part 1 days before part 2 came out and was excited to play the sequel

He started playing it and didn’t even get halfway through and he has shelved it

Reason
He hates playing as Abbie


This game has amazing gameplay and graphics but is let down by the shittiest executed story....capcom could of written a better revenge story
 

kingpotato

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I agree with this, but Naughty Dog has egged on gamers for a while now, half their staff is on twitter calling gamers nazis, incels and fascists and whatnot on the daily. It's no wonder they have awoken the ire of the angry internet nerds. They really need some better media tranining.
And yet their game sold amazingly... Maybe these so called "gamers" weren't really that at all.

I would find it hard to believe the game appeals to a very casual crowd.
 

Jon Neu

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If anything I appreciated that female empowerment didn’t take the form of all the male characters being morons or uncontrollable and violent.

Well, let's see:

-Joel: beaten to death at the start of the game.
-Tommy: portrayed as an uncontollable violent moron that loses it's senses.
-Jesse: Cucked to oblivion and humilliated by Dina and Ellie. He dies and literally nobody cares.

Well, it really makes you think.

What do you feel is the worst part of the agenda?

Ironically, one of the worst parts is how constricted the female characters are.

In the third wave feminist approved female traïts, women have to be:

-Unsexy: Women can't have sexy attributes because that would attract the male gaze. They also have to dress like slobs and show no signs of sexualization directed at a male.

-Strong. As in literally strong. The women characters have to overcompensate for the inferiority complex of feminists and therefore have to be unrealistically strong, with the classical scene beating up some men to reinforce the power fantasy of females being as strong or even stronger than men.

-Sassy and progressive. Of course they have to morally represent the virtue signalling traits of their creators.

-Need no men. They are brave and stunning, and a pregnant woman needs no man. In the game you have literally some asian dude cucked into oblivion without even knowing that he has a son and a pregnant woman going into the open without even saying it to the father because she obviously doesn't have to.
 

REE Machine

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2013 was a very different time plus Bill was not the main protagonist and Ellie's sexuality did not come into play until Left Behind. Even then some people thought it was just a phase.
Still doesnt discredit that we knew these things going in as well as strong females in the first game, the leader of the fireflies was a woman.
 

Bragr

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And yet their game sold amazingly... Maybe these so called "gamers" weren't really that at all.

I would find it hard to believe the game appeals to a very casual crowd.
? most gamers aren't following Naughty Dog on Twitter, just as most gamers aren't hounding Druckman. It's a group of a few thousand that got truly upset, some because of the aggressive weird Naughty Dog employees, some because they can't stand how Naughty Dog tries to build female protagonists or something like that, and some because there are a billion YouTube videos creating a narrative that The Last of Us 2 is evil. I don't agree with any of these reasons, but Naughty Dog is doing a bad job dealing with it and is making it worse. Druckman was replying to troll and silly things on twitter and just egged people on.

Sales wise though, you can't sell those sort of numbers without tapping into the casual crowd, the marketing for this game has been massive, and the visual fidelity and brutal action alone draws in plenty. All types of gamers is jumping into this one. Even the haters.
 

Woggleman

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Honestly I love video games but I am proud to never call myself a gamer. If you are not hateful towards any group why even get mad when people like that are called out?
He said it was anti-male? are you sure?
Yes there is a moment during the Twitch stream where he says something about certainly characters not being killed off because they are women.
 

REE Machine

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Well, it really makes you think.



Ironically, one of the worst parts is how constricted the female characters are.

In the third wave feminist approved female traïts, women have to be:

-Unsexy: Women can't have sexy attributes because that would attract the male gaze. They also have to dress like slobs and show no signs of sexualization directed at a male.

-Strong. As in literally strong. The women characters have to overcompensate for the inferiority complex of feminists and therefore have to be unrealistically strong, with the classical scene beating up some men to reinforce the power fantasy of females being as strong or even stronger than men.

-Sassy and progressive. Of course they have to morally represent the virtue signalling traits of their creators.

-Need no men. They are brave and stunning, and a pregnant woman needs no man. In the game you have literally some asian dude cucked into oblivion without even knowing that he has a son and a pregnant woman going into the open without even saying it to the father because she obviously doesn't have to.
They literally had all those themes in the first game minus the pregnant woman, I think people have a very faded memory of how progressive and how much "agenda" there was in the first game.
 
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Woggleman

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Still doesnt discredit that we knew these things going in as well as strong females in the first game, the leader of the fireflies was a woman.
Like I said 2013 was a very different time before all these culture wars and before people on both sides lost their minds. The Charlie's Angels movies was called woke propaganda for god's sake. Nobody said anything like that about the TV shows in the 70s or the 2000 movie but release a movie like that today and the culture warriors come out. It was a bad reboot but that is another story.
 

REE Machine

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Like I said 2013 was a very different time before all these culture wars and before people on both sides lost their minds. The Charlie's Angels movies was called woke propaganda for god's sake. Nobody said anything like that about the TV shows in the 70s or the 2000 movie but release a movie like that today and the culture warriors come out. It was a bad reboot but that is another story.
Touche i guess, let morons be morons then, ill stay in the middle and be open to all media
 

REE Machine

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I think you are just trying to excuse the second part by claiming the first part was just as bad with the political agenda.

But is simply not true.
I think your trying to neglect what the first game had was and is about while claiming the second game is exploring these ideas and themes for the first time which is in fact false. The first game had a political agenda much like this one, no one cared though
 
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Woggleman

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Touche i guess, let morons be morons then, ill stay in the middle and be open to all media
I am that way as well but it gets tiring when everything released seems to go through this. If people want to say TLOU2 is bad on it's own merits then fine. I disagree but to each their own but don't use a game that is not preachy at all as some culture war battleground.
 

Jon Neu

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I think your trying to neglect what the first game had was and is about while claiming the second game is exploring these ideas and themes for the first time which is in fact false. The first game had a political agenda much like this one, no one cared though

Again, what you are saying is just false. The first game didn't had this blatant political agenda.

Why would we see agenda in the second and not in the first? If the first one had a political agenda, it would reinforce even more the fact that Cuckmann has a political agenda.

But again, they literally feel like two completely different games.
 

Jon Neu

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Niel :The character motivations are consistent.
-No, hardly anyone was consistent. This leads to failure in connecting with the characters.
Niel : We are not just trying to force things for plot.
-Yes you did, for almost the whole game.
Niel :If it’s inconsistent with the characters we will throw those ideas out.
-Obviously didn’t happen
Niel :Are we intrigued by Abby? Do we want to find out what happens next with her?
-No, please get it over with.
Niel : You are a bigot that needs to be educated. get to know Abby over 10 hours of fetch quest that have no point at the end. Anyway, sorry Haley I’ve blabbered on for a bit you can take it from here
Haley: I think..
Niel: So this bunch of Angry anti-SJW Youtubers corrupted the judgment of many people out there, they couldn’t get over their prejudice and just had to ruin it for everybody.

Shieeeeet.gif

Did he really said all that crap with a straight face? Damn, imagine lacking that much awareness.

Thank you for saving me having to watch the video.
 
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REE Machine

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Again, what you are saying is just false. The first game didn't had this blatant political agenda.

Why would we see agenda in the second and not in the first? If the first one had a political agenda, it would reinforce even more the fact that Cuckmann has a political agenda.

But again, they literally feel like two completely different games.
1st game
Gay characters, check
Less feminine women, check
Strong female characters, check
Woman in charge of a group of mostly men, check
Ellie being able to fend for herself, check

go play the first game again, lol people out on their own lens thinking "well the first game isnt political because you play as a man"

lol ok, playing as a man where a woman started the plot and you have to finish her crusade because she dies 1/4 ways in
 

Zambayoshi

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I have no problems with the inclusions that were made in Part II to satisfy the SJW crowd. However, it felt forced in that there was no real balance. It felt like ALL the women in Part II were designed according to the Anita Sarkeesian school of thought. I think that was because with SJWs there are no half-measures. They are so inclusive that they are exclusive of anything that is not 'inclusive'. In ticking all of the agenda boxes, Druckman has robbed the game of a degree of believability, and certainly of relatability.

For me, the game was like eating an icecream with too many toppings crowded on top of it. It would have been better to have fewer toppings and let the dessert have some balance.
 

Jon Neu

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Gay characters, check

Side character that his gender had nothing to do with the story, neither was used to virtue signal.

Less feminine women, check

Ironically, Tess is probably the most sexy character of this universe.

In the second part we have She Hulk, Noselina and pregnantlina.

And the fat ugly asian who had a PSP.

Strong female characters

That's mostly true. Again, nobody says Cuckmann didn't have his fetishes being in development, but comparing the first game with the second just doesn't hold up.

He also made Nadine and Nathan's daughter in Uncharted 4, but that doesn't mean the game was retardedly woke. Cuckmann didn't start all crazy with the political agenda, he has being progressively "radicalized" through the years and the culmination so far is TLOU2. His political agenda is now starting to get really bad.

He has literally said that diversity is as important as the gameplay, the graphics or the story. And that's something he realized after making Uncharted 4.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/uncharted-dev-says-character-diversity-just-as-imp/1100-6441800/

It's like watching the evolution of a super villain. It doesn't start as bad, but it gets progressively worse with time.
 

SliChillax

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Originally, I wasn't happy about what happened midway through the game.

Seattle Day 3 Spoiler

Jesse dying abruptly.

because there was no build up to his death and it just...happened.

They explained how death can be unpredictable and it can happen unceremoniously. I think that's believable and it really changed how I felt about how certain characters died in this game.
It's what I love about this game. Deaths are so real. They are quick and unexpected. They're not corny deaths leading up to a set piece then ending in a speech while bleeding to death and dying exactly when you've finished your last sentence.
 
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