Joel’s friend Tess was once one of the main antagonists of The Last of Us. Some arguable spoilers follow.
Speaking to GameInformer, as harvested from the latest issue by VideoGamer, creative director Neil Druckmann said that Tess was originally plotted in a less sympathetic role.
“Tess was betrayed by Joel and took on a mission to pursue him across the country. That storyline never worked out,” he said.
“The storyline shifted and Tess took on this role where she became more of a believer and she helped motivate Joel.”
The direction change came about for a couple of reasons. First, the team couldn’t find a reasonable justification for why Joel would go on Ellie’s journey, and why Tess would pursue him so doggedly, when both had more important concerns – surviving.
The shift helped solve that, as Tess’s friendship ends up providing some of the motivation for Joel’s decision to accompany Ellie on her journey.
Secondly, the arc contained an important character moment for a vision of Ellie which was scrapped.
“Ellie’s arc originally was that she didn’t kill any non-infected people until the end, when she was going to kill Tess when Tess was torturing Joel,” Druckmann said.
“What we realised is that we had to get Ellie engaged more in the combat because when she was disengaged from the action for that long you didn’t care so much. So that changed pretty early on. We decided it wasn’t going to be about the first time she killed someone, it was more about this coming of age story of the impact that the horrors of violence has on her over the course of the game.
“That culminates with her conflict with David. That happened pretty quickly, just based on some things we realised about the story and how we had to integrate it into the gameplay.”
The full article through the link above contains a discussion of the game’s ending, and an alternate take Naughty Dog had considered, so don’t click through if you’re not already aware of the events of the final act.
Thanks, Shack News.
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