The Last of Us Part II left on a fairly open-ended note when it launched last year, but it sounds like developer Naughty Dog has internally already mapped out a hypothetical Last of Us Part III. However, it’s not something the studio is actively developing at this time.
In an interview with the podcast Script Apart, Director Neil Druckmann said that he and Part II co-writer Halley Gross have made up an outline for the story beats of a potential sequel, but made clear it’s not something Naughty Dog is working on in any substantial capacity. [Thanks IGN]
“I don’t know how much I want to reveal… [Gross] and I did write an outline for a story, that we’re not making – but I hope one day can see the light of day – that explores a little bit what happens after this game. We’ll see.”
Even if it’s not something on the studio’s current docket, Druckmann says there have been a lot of discussions about the process of making a third Last of Us within the studio, and if the game does get made, they want to make sure it’s thematically coherent with the previous two games, but is also not becoming formulaic in a way that can come from a duology becoming a long-running franchise.
“These games take so much to make. [Part II], I’ve been thinking about it for seven years, between when the last game came out and when this came out […] You want to make sure you’re jazzed by the idea that you have, [that] it feels like it’s challenging.
“We’ve now had two games that I feel speak to something universal as well as telling a very personal story for these characters. With one game, there’s no pattern of what a franchise is. With two games, now there’s starting to be a pattern – now I feel like there are some structural and thematic themes you’d have to stick to if you’re making a third game.”
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Speaking personally, I left the end of Part II content with where things were, and that open-endedness felt more profound than the first game in a way I came to appreciate after finishing it. Co-protagonists Ellie and Abby leaving behind their grief in pursuit of something more felt like a much better note to end the series on than “is a man going to get away with doing a fucked up thing?” But I also think that hopeful note could lead to some reconciliation, which I wouldn’t mind seeing.
Whatever the case, reports coming out of Sony sound like Naughty Dog is busy handling a few projects in the franchise already. From the long-dormant multiplayer mode to an apparent remake of the first Last of Us that was taken from a small studio within Sony and handed to Naughty Dog instead. Hopefully somewhere a new IP is also in the works.