In The Last of Us, players took control of Joel, a father mourning the loss of his daughter after the outbreak of the mutated Cordyceps fungus. A young girl named Ellie joined Joel for most of his adventure, with the player generally controlling Joel. With The Last of Us: Part 2, Ellie is now the lead character and the one that players follow throughout the story.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, game director Neil Druckmann confirmed that Ellie will have a non-playable companion on her journey.
"Ellie used to be an NPC, but she’s the protagonist in this story, so the player is controlling Ellie," said Druckmann in the interview. "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. And 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?"
Ellie herself will obviously be going to dark places in The Last of Us: Part 2. Druckmann has previously said that the team wants players to be repulsed by the violence in the game. They want you to reflect on the nature and outcome of that violence, something Druckmann explained again here.
"With the first game, it’s that sense of irrational, unconditional love a parent feels for their child and how they’re willing to sacrifice everything for their child, right? The whole kind of game was built around that concept," he told BuzzFeed. "With this game, a lot of our conversations are about hate, but it’s a more complicated, kind of nuanced thing, which is— I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you’ve witnessed an atrocity. You’ve seen someone torture an animal, or they’ve pushed you too far and, for a second, your mind goes somewhere...primitive, where you want to hurt someone."
"And with this game, we’re like, How do we explore that? How do we make you feel those feelings and lean into them, and then make you reflect on them? And I can’t say more than that without kind of spoiling the whole story. But everything we’re constructing, the situation we’re putting the characters in, is to explore that basically," he added.
The Last of Us: Part 2 does not currently have a release date. Other than a few trailers, interviews, and the E3 2018 gameplay demo, we don't know a ton about the game's plot yet. I'm sure we'll find out more as The Last of Us: Part 2 moves toward release.