The Last of Us not a “zombie game,” but a father-daughter-like “love story”

Tuesday, 13th December 2011 21:08 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Naughty Dog has said the inspiration for the fungus affecting the human population in The Last of Us, was inspired by the Cordyceps fungi showing in BBC’s Planet Earth series, meaning the title is most definitely not a “zombie game.”

The fungai, a very scary, real threat to insects and arthropods such as crab, can cause changes in host behavior which is beneficial to the survival of the fungai and causes zombie-like actions in the insect before its eventual death. Some species even cause sprouts to come out of the host, giving it a bit of a plant-like look.

After watching the episode, of Planet Earth, Naughty Dog wondered what would happen if by chance humans could catch the fungus. While the fungus epidemic is the main backdrop of the game, this is not what the story will focus on, according to the developer, instead, The Last of Us will focus on the “father-daughter-like relationship” between Joel and Ellie, and their quest for survival.

“If the game was about the monsters, we would have not showed them,” Neil Druckmann, the game’s writer and creative director told Eurogamer. “The story’s not about them, so [we thought] let’s get it out of the way.”

“It’s story-driven, [but] the whole triangle is story, gameplay and art,” added and writer game director Bruce Straley. “As a gamer it’s all about strategy and giving the player enough tools in their toolkit so that they can come upon something and choose and have the consequences play out within their choices.”

In the game, anti-hero Joel, and Ellie, who was born during the infection, will travel across the US moving from city-to-city, killing infected and scavenging as many resources as they can.

Whether the player will control Joel, Ellie, or both, has yet to be revealed by Naughty Dog, nor will the firm say whether or not it’s a co-op affair. However, the “no network play” message on the game’s official website appears to have been a mistake of some sort: “We don’t know where that came from,” said Druckmann. “That’s TBD,” added Straley.

What the firm wants to accomplish with The Last of Us, and is willing to talk about, is how it is striving to create a game it can “change the fucking industry with,” because it feels as though “storytelling is so poor right now,” according to Druckmann.

“We try so hard at Naughty Dog to push things and then games come out that are fun and exciting and get visceral things right, but to read in reviews that they have an amazing story is disheartening to us because we work so hard at it,” he said. “In any other medium it’s all about the characters. [We want you to] care so when horrible things happen you feel something.

“That’s what Naughty Dog can bring to the genre and really own it: every decision we make is about the characters and their relationship. We approached this genre because we felt no-one is getting to the heart of it. [The Last of Us] tells you something about the human condition – that’s what you want to do as a storyteller.”

A date has yet to be confirmed for the title, but some reports say to expect it in 2012-early 2013.



  1. DSB

    1. It is a zombie game. You’re bullshitting.

    2. Should’ve just gone with “It’s a zombie game”

    It smells a bit like Naughty Dog are getting too big for their britches, but of course it’s still too early to tell.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Edo

    You could’ve fooled me..

    #2 3 years ago
  3. KAP

    Yes, yes and yes.
    This is exactly why I love shows such as The Walking Dead or Dexter, they focus on the characters first and foremost.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. polygem


    #4 3 years ago
  5. polygem

    ´the road´ with zombies then, like i them fungies if you will – stays the same…cool but not very creative…or will they surprise me?

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Dannybuoy

    Give um a bloody chance. We don’t know anything much yet.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. monkeygourmet

    Looks like I was about bang-on with my prediction then…

    Engage smug mode…

    Smug mode engaged! :D

    #7 3 years ago
  8. KAP

    Come on people, there atleast trying to push our medium forward.
    Give ‘em credit for that atleast.
    No one could of guessed that the uncharted games would have been as big as it is with many GOTY awards. When they announced the first mentioned the first game all those years ago.
    I for one told myself it was just a tomb raider rip off, how very wrong was I. Instead of ruling out Last Of Us, give it a chance.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. OrbitMonkey

    Y’know it’s funny. Naughty Dog bang out 3 decent games that are praised for their story and character. Have another game that they are saying will really push story telling and emotive character art ready to drop next year…

    All in the time it’s took that waster from Tokyo to resign from his unfinished game, that supposedly was gonna be all emotive characters and great story…

    Just saying mate, don’t rush… Don’t fucking need ya ;-)

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DSB

    @8 Happily. There’s nothing wrong with that they’re doing, and they should give it all they’ve got, but it’s a weird PR strategy though.

    It’s obviously a zombie game. There’s a reason why they’re there. The implication that it isn’t a zombie game because it’s based on a real world fungus, and a guy and a girl, is silly.

    The Walking Dead is about more than zombies, but it’s still very much a zombie show.

    To me it just seems like sticking your nose in the air. There’s a problem with developers talking a good game, instead of making sure they’re actually developing one. If they had actually showed gameplay or a trailer that showed something genuinely interesting, then I would feel better about buying into it.

    @9 I’m definitely not passing judgement on 2 and 3, but the first one seemed like a Tomb Raider knockoff to me. It was just plain boring, and there wasn’t anything in the dialogue or the cutscenes, that I saw, that made it any better.

    I still remember one line from the boat “Nothing a little therapy won’t fix” – Honestly? That’s your one-liner coming out of a firefight?

    The others seemed to pick up the slack though.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. absolutezero

    The Walking Dead Comic is first and foremost a fucking zombie comic BUT like the best of the zombie media theres more to it than just that, like [rec] for instance.

    So we replace Ellen Page with a dog and Bearded Nathan Drake with Will Smith and we have I Am Legend the movie.

    Its nothing like The Road.


    #11 3 years ago
  12. Erthazus

    I don’t like that talk “pushing the medium” “only story” and etc.

    It’s a game and i want to see gameplay first of all. Story and visuals will be amazing and thats great, but what about Gameplay and how we will play it?

    Is it RPG? Is it TPS? FPS? Racing? lawl.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. shogoz

    Its not a zombie game at all! just people who are infected by something wanting to make other people their lunch. I can see how this might confuse people because this is clearly about plant life fighting back and all that. i swear to god if im not beaten the shit out of by a plant im going to be really pissed off and have a diarrea attack

    #13 3 years ago
  14. jacobvandy

    Fail headline. “Relationship” doesn’t automatically mean “love story.” They could hate each other, but still need to stick together to survive (for example).

    #14 3 years ago
  15. shogoz

    incest with zombie plants! that really IS a new genre!….that i would play over and over again

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Stephany Nunneley

    @14 …..”the monsters are not the focus. It’s the relationship between Joel and Ellie.”

    “This is going to sound corny and it might not appeal to gamers, but I would say it’s a love story,” he says. “It’s not a romantic love story, it’s a love story about a father-daughter-like relationship.”

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    ITT: People who have seen a two minute trailer and think that they know more about the content of the game than the developers do.

    Is there nothing in gaming anymore that people won’t fucking whine and complain about aaaaaaaaall the fucking time.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. shogoz

    Fortunately for us Michael there is at least one of you on every forum that posts the same points you do that WE groan about too

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    @18 Sorry, what?

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Gheritt White

    @ 3: If you’ve only watched The Walking Dead on TV and never read the book, yet think you have the right to utter its name on the internet, then I’m afraid to tell you that (a) you’re wrong (b) you’re a cunt (c) I hate you and (d)I’m going to come round to your house and cut off your balls.


    #20 3 years ago
  21. spiderLAW

    The Walking Dead TV Show is almost completely different than the comic books. The Walking Dead show focuses all its efforts into developing the characters while the comics focuses its efforts more on showing the true bitter grittiness of survival during a zombie apocalypse (in the comics, they kill off characters like it was nothing.)
    So here i think its okay for him to use the reference he made to the TV Show.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Gheritt White

    @ 21: The TV show is BULLSHIT and you’re a HERETIC.

    Also, genuinely, I honestly think the comic does a much better job of developing its characters, moreover that its characters are much more interesting and well-rounded. The ones in the TV show are just a bunch of stereotypes – e.g. weak-willed women, hip-hop-esque black dude, good ol’ boy southern hunter, clueless children etc etc. The comic doesn’t present any of these old idiotropes.

    #22 3 years ago

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