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Last of Us 2 Director Wants Players to Be "Repulsed by the Violence They Are Committing"

Last of Us 2's brutality is supposed to make you think.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Sony's E3 2018 presentation showcased The Last of Us 2, and we all watched as a sweet kiss melted into footage of the protagonist, Ellie, killing several people and watching a man get disemboweled. It was a disturbing reel, to be certain, but The Last of Us 2's creative director, Neil Druckmann, wants players to feel uneasy.

"We’re making a game about the cycle of violence and we’re making a statement about violent actions and the impact they have on the character that’s committing them and on the people close to them," Druckmann told Kotaku in an interview at E3. "And our whole approach is to say, 'We want to treat this as realistically as possible.' When you stab someone—if you watch reference videos, which we have, it's gross and it’s messy and it's not sanitized like you see in most movies and games. And we wanted to get the player to feel that."

Whoa-a here she comes~

Indeed, outside of Ellie's kiss, the footage we've been shown of The Last of Us 2 has been disturbing. We've seen women's arms get broken. We've seen men hanged and disemboweled while screaming in agony. We've seen Ellie cut down enemy after enemy swiftly and brutally using several different weapons—and whatever she can find on the ground. Druckmann says the idea is "for the player to feel repulsed by some of the violence they are committing themselves. It felt like that is the most honest way to tell this story."

Our guide to The Last of Us 2 has everything you need to know about Naughty Dog's upcoming brutal and bloody adventure.

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Comments 21

  • Avatar for jeffcorry #1 jeffcorry 8 days ago
    Well. They can rest assured I won’t be playing their ‘game’ or...apocalypse simulator. Their product is a prime example of what I personally don’t want to experience in a game. For multiple reasons.
    I’m sure someone will pat their backs and hand them a trophy, but I thought the whole thing was disgusting.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #2 nadiaoxford 8 days ago
    @jeffcorry Games can get as bloody as they like, but I'm miffed at being force-fed all this gore and bone-breaking in an E3 presentation I'm obligated to watch if I want to see all the other games being previewed.
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #3 The-Challenger 8 days ago
    Woah... Can we get a list of the reference videos they watched? I wonder if any of the employees objected to such a viewing. Now I'm genuinely intrigued by this game, and its fucked-up design process.Edited 2 weeks ago by The-Challenger
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #4 jeffcorry 8 days ago
    @nadiaoxford You make a good point, and I understand artistic license and all that. I would have hated to have had to sit there. I was actually just tuning in to the show on our projector in the basement and my kid walked in right during the 'smooch' (he FREAKED by the way) and my gut instinct was 'he can't see this'. It was not even like a second thought. It was just too much. He's 12 and pretty innocent at this point. We don't try to completely shelter him, but I really believe there is a time and place to understand certain information out there. I ended up tuning in later and thought the presentation was okay overall (I'm really a Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Zelda, Mario, type of gamer so it wasn't really for me personally...except Kingdom Hearts of course!).
    Anyway. I don't want to come off as combative or put people down for what they like or create, but for me it was just so over the top.
    Thanks for your comment, it put a little perspective on things for me.Edited 2 weeks ago by jeffcorry
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  • Avatar for admiralsnackbar #5 admiralsnackbar 8 days ago
    Naaaaaaaaaah.
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  • Avatar for nilcam #6 nilcam 8 days ago
    Their goal was achieved in the video. After the Lara Croft trailer and this video, I found it quite disturbing to see so many Uncanny Valley residents being murdered in such horrific manners. I was so ready for Nintendo's presentation after the murder videos.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #7 Kuni-Nino 8 days ago
    The violence stands out but it doesn’t bother me. I’m just wondering if The Last of Us will eventually show me tricks that I haven’t seen before. I’ll never deny that The Last of Us is done well, but ultimately it’s just another zombie apocalypse story where humans do bad things in order to survive. How many times have we seen this story already? How many of them arrive to the same point?
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  • Avatar for pdubb #8 pdubb 8 days ago
    I get why it's an artistic decision, but I'm gonna have to pass. Good on them for stick to their vision though I guess?
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  • Avatar for internisus #9 internisus 8 days ago
    Unlike most video game violence, the brutality of The Last of Us seems pointed and meaningful, an essential element in the fabric of its setting and themes. Playing the first game felt uniquely exhausting, and I admired Naughty Dog's achievement in wearing me down until I was raw and primed for those precious moments of warmth and humanity. Considering how good it all was and what little they've said about Part Two, including that it's a story about hate, I have faith that there's a good reason for the bloodbath beyond cheap shock value or visceral immersion or power fantasy.

    I find it a bit absurd that anyone would criticize this sequel for its violence since that violence is to be expected after its predecessor. There is an unnecessary and unfortunate prominence of violence among video games, but this is one place where it absolutely belongs. Critics and audiences who feel repulsed and find no compelling creative purpose behind that experience are free to condemn the game once it's released if they are so inclined. But, until then, I think it's a little silly to try and judge the merits of out-of-context gameplay demos and cutscenes. Hasn't Naughty Dog earned a bit more faith than that?
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  • Avatar for SIGGYZtar #10 SIGGYZtar 8 days ago
    I remember filmmakers made their viewers get really shocked by the violence they didn't see. To put peaceful romantic scene right next to scene where protagonist is brutally murdering another human being (even as a matter of survival), is pretty f-ed up. Is the director the same time of person who thought those fatalities in the last Mortal Kombat with the body being ripped out with spine in agonizing detail such a delightful but thoughtful romp?
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  • Avatar for DogNozzle #11 DogNozzle 8 days ago
    @The-Challenger The idea of a bunch of game dev dweebs sitting around in a conference room somewhere and studiously taking notes while they watch videos of dudes getting stabbed is... quite an image.
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  • Avatar for Fourfoldroot #12 Fourfoldroot 8 days ago
    A brave decision to move away from the Hollywood sanitised violence of popular media. If it fits with the context and characters then I'm not opposed to exposing myself to something closer approaching reality of consequence.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #13 Nuclear-Vomit 8 days ago
    I don't mind Ellie butchering those cultist trash. She just watched a dude get shanked big time. What is she gonna do? Hug them? How about an explosive arrow to the face instead?
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #14 jeffcorry 8 days ago
    @internisus I can get what you’re saying, but I have to disagree on one major point. It is abolutely not silly to judge this game based on an “out of context” trailer. This is the material the developers chose to use to market their product. This is calculated and exactly what they want you to see. No accidents. They WANT to portray this level of violence. That’s disturbing to me.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #15 donkeyintheforest 8 days ago
    I'm less put off by the "real violence" than the tired trope of everyone being horrible to each other after an apocalyptic event. I would much more prefer a game where everyone is working together in a gorgeous, overgrown world. Breath of the Wild was such a nice change.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #16 MetManMas 8 days ago
    They're free to be as gruesome as they want, but I don't have to buy their AAA games. And I don't! Like, I do make exceptions (Fallout and Witcher 3 come to mind), but I don't actively seek out games to revel in or be repulsed by horrible gruesome violence.
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  • Avatar for Irvyne #17 Irvyne 8 days ago
    I think Naughty Dog's amazingly detailed and exquisitely acted cutscenes are second to none. But the scene of Ellie going on a murderous rampage made me feel sick. It's too much, for me, anyway. I also felt like putting that kind of footage front and center in a public conference that would be watched by people of all ages all over the world was in pretty bad taste. You certainly wouldn't have that level of detail in a public film trailer. Anyway, I was repulsed all right. I won't be buying this game.
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  • Avatar for internisus #18 internisus 8 days ago
    @jeffcorry It's a violent game. How are they supposed to show it to you without violence?

    I think it's a good thing to question whether this level of violence belongs in a broader conference like E3 (although there's plenty of other violence there to go around), and I am sympathetic to journalists who don't want to see it but have to for their jobs. The better choice would have been for Sony to hold one or more specific events for the game where these kinds of trailers are released. But no matter what pre-release marketing we're shown for the game, it's going to be violent because it's a violent game; no getting around that. Although... with The Last of Us's clout sure to drive sales I guess they could do something bold like a total media blackout. They could have just never released a gameplay demo or cutscene. That would have been gutsy and considerate. I doubt Sony would let ND do it, though.Edited 1 weeks ago by internisus
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #19 jeffcorry 8 days ago
    @internisus The criticism from me is that they chose to create it that way...and then hope it gets onto the hands of MILLIONS of people. Lots of kids. They want them to “feel” that. Yup. Nothing wrong with our culture...I love games, I think artistic freedom is important as well as freedom of speech, but I’m against whatever this violence porn is.Edited 2 times. Last edited 1 weeks ago by jeffcorry
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  • Avatar for internisus #20 internisus 8 days ago
    @jeffcorry There is absolutely no reason to think that they want their game, which will obviously carry an M rating, to be played by kids. You're just being inflammatory now and casting malicious intent; that really detracts from what was an interesting debate about video game violence and how it should be treated by marketing.Edited 1 weeks ago by internisus
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #21 jeffcorry 8 days ago
    @internisus Whether they want it to be in the kids hands or not, it still happens. I get pretty passionate about this because I spend my days with 6th graders (I teach). They see this stuff because it’s created. Their parents bring it home. They see it online. That M on the cover of those games? That’s a badge to brag for some of those kids. Believe it. Sorry for coming on so strong about it. I’ll drop it at this point, but I just have this perspective from what I do every day at work. We don’t need more of that type of game glorified. Respect to you though.Edited 1 weeks ago by jeffcorry
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