The lights are on
I beat The Last of Us a couple weeks ago, but that adventure is still ringing through my head like a brass bell. The game easily sits on my list of the five greatest games from this generation, and yet, I don't think I want to see a sequel.
(The following is spoiler free. But if you want The Last of Us spoiled for you, go here.)
The Last of Us tells a grim story about a world 20 years after a terrible plague ravages the world's population, turning many into zombie-like monsters. Born among the ashes of civilization is Ellie, a young woman who might hold the key to curing this terrible disease. Her journey across the country alongside her new found guardian, Joel, is a riveting, white-knuckle rush. The game's action was so well balanced that I constantly felt like it was tethering between feeling capable and getting lost in the chaos. I loved every minute of it, and I didn't want that journey to end. Even so, now that I've finished the game, I don't think I want Naughty Dog to revisit the world with a sequel. The reason is simple: the story is too good.
I'm not averse to sequels. I walk away from plenty of experiences eager for more. I dreamt about The Avengers sequel for months following last year's summer blockbuster. I can't wait for EA's recently announced Mirror's Edge continuation, and I'm looking forward to new entries in series like Tomb Raider, XCOM, and Telltale's The Walking Dead. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really into what I like to call the Tony Hawking of games; I'm tired of seeing a new Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed game every year. However, I think some games are built to become series, while others make a better standalone experience. The Last of Us is the latter.
I know that Naughty Dog is thinking about potential sequels. Honestly, I won't mind if it tried to make a spiritual sequel to the game – take the scavenging mechanics and the intense action from The Last of Us and wrap them around another story set in a completely different world. However, I think Naughty Dog would be doing The Last of Us a disservice if it turned its newest property into a franchise, because The Last of Us told such a powerful and complete story that adding anything more to it would dilute the original.
I want to respect those who haven't played the game yet, and I want them to be able to play through the game and enjoy it for all it's worth, so I won't include any spoilers here, but I will say that The Last of Us' tale left such an impact on me that I'm sure I'll still be thinking about it years from now. The biggest reason the game's story hit me so hard is because Naughty Dog crafted some amazingly interesting characters.
I think it's kind of funny that Irrational Games spent so much time talking about the effort it put into crafting Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, while Naughty Dog's characters are easily the most believable in video games. Don't get me wrong, I thought Irrational did a great job with Elizabeth. She was cute, funny, and a joy to be around. However, if I had a crush on Elizabeth while playing BioShock Infinite, I completely fell in love with Joel and Ellie while playing The Last of Us. I felt like I had journeyed through hell with them as they crossed the country, and by the end I wanted to see them succeed. I never felt bonded to Elizabeth in the same way.
By the time The Last of Us' credits rolled I felt the same way I have felt after reading a well-crafted novel or emotional film: I felt satisfied. The Last of Us needs nothing more, and I feel like adding to the game would only lessen the impact of Naughty Dog's well-constructed adventure.
I know that this isn't how the game industry works. Naughty Dog has built a brand with The Last of Us. New intellectual properties are hard to sell, and the developer went out on a limb by creating something fresh and original. And it succeeded. It seems only fair that it should be able to utilize some of the capital it's built up by making a sequel. After all, a second game is bound to sell even better than the first (I'd hypocritically buy a copy).
Then again, Gone with the Wind is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and it didn't get a sequel. Do books like The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby need sequels because people liked them? Do films like Schindler's List and Casablanca need sequels because they were critically acclaimed? No they don't, because they are works of art, and great art can stand on its own. The Last of Us is good enough to do just that.
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If they do a sequel I doubt it will star Joel or Ellie, I think it'll be a new cast of characters.
I wouldn't mind a sequel. I also wouldn't mind if it didn't either. If they do make a sequel then I would gladly buy it. although it be really tough to top this game.
The game took a predictable formula and turned it into something only naughty dog can, the ending was fitting, the game was great, to the powers that be, leave the game alone. Naughty dog makes some of the best games around, they take care and polish them up really nice before releasing them, excluding UC3, which they had a deadline to meet and rushed the game a little and it showed, that being said, whatever NG comes up with next will have their cut from my wallet.
It took me weeks to start New Game+ on The Last of Us because the story left such an impact; it felt too soon to look at any of the characters after the brilliant ending. It left me feeling troubled and conflicted but not at all unfulfilled. Perfect ending to what I experienced as a perfect game.
You completely encapsulated my thoughts. I couldn't put it better myself. And the comparison to BioShock is one I have been making for days, and I completley agree. Irrational created a great game, but that relationship between the two main characters was much more intense for me personally in The Last of Us.
Well, I haven't yet beat The Last of Us, but I agree completely. Some games are so good that a sequel will simply bring it down. Especially when they completely cover every loose end in that same game.
It's called The Last of Us because, it's one of the "last greats ps3 games" "The last of us" possibly the best game. This . Bioshock and uncharted series are on the same level as well. Just one mans opinion
I always thought a very good sequel for the game would be when you can control Ellie when she's a grown up. I can even envision the game starting when a very pretty, grown up Ellie is hunting in the winter like in the last game but this time she instantly kills a deer since she's older and more expirienced. I really hope they make a sequel to this game because it was brilliant ps3 exclusive, and it really warrants a sequel (and I don't just say that). I also want to know what happens to Ellie after everything went down, like are the fireflies hunting her down? will she ever know that they tried killing her? Will Joel have to 'fess up
Naughty Dog knows how to craft genuinely amazing characters in a beautifully compelling narrative, I have no doubt they'll kill it with the next entry. There is just so many directions this story could go, no way it wont get a sequel. Take your time ND, you've already earned my moneys. Oh and a co-op mode would be just perfect too if you can pull that off :D
Gone with the wind did get a sequel. It was called Scarlett. also I wouldn't compare the last of us to a 3 hour southern apologist film.
I think Last of Us would work fine as a standalone game. Naughty Dog could totally explore other characters and their stories through DLC (it'd be kinda neat to get to play as Bill or Tommy or even David (!!!) in optional side-story DLC campaigns) but there's really no reason to revisit Joel and Ellie's journey or to even revisit the world of Last of Us in a full-blown sequel.
I think some of the grim charm the game has would certainly be lost if we ended up seeing a Last of Us 2 and Last of Us 3.
As soon as the credits started rolling at the end of the game I put it in my top 3 games of all time I've ever played. The world was beautiful, the pacing was sublime, the gunplay felt pretty realistic, and the characters were super memorable. Ben is totally right, to make a direct sequel would dilute the story alot. However, I feel like they set up a world that is dynamic enough to have multiple stories that could be related or unrelated to the original. For example, the fireflies fighting the military, (spoiler alert)the continued search or even discovery of a cure, or even explore the 20 year span between the beginning of the outbreak and when the game picks up. They should for sure leave Ellie and Joel, but its undeniable they left alot of room for creativity within the universe.
Wow. Pretty powerful piece Ben. I haven't played it yet but this article definitely pushed me a tad closer to it.
While I haven't played it yet. I agree completely. Just because something was good doesn't mean it needs a successor.
wait so theres not gonna be a sequal?? D:
I agree with you 100% Ben. This game does not need a true sequel and really doesn't need to become a franchise. A 'spiritual successor' would be okay, I guess, but there is no need to continue where the game left off.