According to its creators, The Last of Us Part 2 is a story about hate and the cost of revenge. In part, it was inspired by a news event creative director Neil Druckmann witnessed as a child.
“I don’t want to go into specifics about it, but I saw a video of a lynching when I was much younger” Druckmann said in a GQ interview. “It was like an actual… like a news thing. And then, feeling intense hatred for the people that committed the lynching and thinking, like, ‘oh man if I could hurt these people in some horrible ways then I could.’”
While writing the story for Part 2, Druckmann spent some time reflecting on those feelings, that intense hatred he felt at the time. “I was like, oh we can make the player feel that,” he explained. “We can make you experience this thirst for revenge. This thirst for retribution, and having you actually like commit the acts of finding it. And then showing you the other side to make you regret it. To make you feel dirty for everything you’ve done in the game, making you realize ‘I’m actually the villain of the story.’”
Druckmann also says The Last of Us is a kind of love letter to American landscapes, as seen through the eyes of an immigrant. “I have a certain affinity and certain love for the United States that’s in some way unique to an immigrant,” he said. “I remember the first time we arrived, a couple of days later we drove through Manhattan. And I’m like ‘oh my god I’m in one of the many movies I’ve seen that have taken place on this street!’ For me, a lot of The Last of Us has an Americana vibe that is a love letter to these landscapes.”
Elsewhere, Druckmann spoke about the value of diversity in stories, and how Naughty Dog plans to “dismantle” what fans hold sacred with The Last of Us Part 2.
Reviews for The Last of Us Part 2 land this Friday and you can check out the latest gameplay trailer at that link. The Last of Us Part 2 releases on June 19.