One of the notable features of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us was the interaction and dynamics between Joel, the player character and Eliie, the AI controlled companion. While the E3 2018 demo of The Last of Us Part II showed a grown-up Ellie tackling the dangers of the apocalypse alone, that will not be the case in the final game.
In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann confirmed Ellie will have somebody watching her back in TLOU Part II.
“Ellie used to be an NPC, but she’s the protagonist in [The Last of Us Part II], so the player is controlling Ellie. Umm, it’s safe to say with the game that we made in the past that there will be some NPC with you in this story, even though we’re not showing [the NPC] in this demo. Our general approach is to say, again, ‘How do we treat them like people? How do we get them to behave honestly as those people? How do we give them interesting characteristics so that they can navigate the world, make meaningful actions, and surprise you in the way people do?”
The recently released God of War’s Atreus served as a prime example of an AI companion did right. Santa Monica succeeded in building a sidekick character who never becomes a burden for the player, ye doesn’t interrupt the organic feel of having one along. So it’s not surprising to hear TLOU Part II feeling the need to step-up their game.
“We’re friends with those guys [at SIE Santa Monica]. We’re neighbors. I guess they’re not in Santa Monica technically anymore, but, yeah, we share tech and creative processes. And we welcome the friendly competition to one-up them in every regard. And you can tell [God of War director Cory Barlog] that.”
Sadly, he didn’t shed any light on who will be there to watch Ellie’s back, but we’re free to guess until the game’s eventual release in 2019.