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The Last of Us Part 2 facial animations are "like nothing that anyone has ever seen in games"

It was recently revealed that The Last of Us Part 2 facial animations are systemic, meaning that facial capture was not used to animate the gameplay sections.

This specifically refers to moment-to-moment play — the cutscenes, obviously, were filmed by real people using facial/motion capture. However, a designer at Naughty Dog recently unveiled that this wasn't necessarily the case across the board.

Roger Clark, who plays Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2, posted a tweet about The Last of Us Part 2 capture being the best he has "seen to date." Check it out below — or read our fascinating interview with Clark about Red Dead Redemption 2.

Neil Uchitel, a senior sound designer at Naughty Dog, replied to Clark, breaking down how The Last of Us Part 2 facial animations are actually systemic, and why that's significant.

"One thing you may not notice is that all of the gameplay (not cinematic) facial animations are systemic," writes Uchitel. "It’s not facial capture. It’s an astounding system designed by animator Keith Paciello (not on twitter). It’s like nothing that anyone has ever seen in games."

Uchitel breaks it down further in a follow-up tweet, which you can check out below.

"It makes it so that the all the facial in the game doesn’t need to be hand keyed," he writes. "Lines of dialogue are tagged with an emotion from a large list, and the char displays the emotion while saying the line, seamlessly. Each char has their own emotion anim set. It’s utterly brilliant."

Again, this only applies to actual gameplay. Cinematic cutscenes were filmed by actors, and don't employ the same algorithm.

If you've yet to get your hands on The Last of Us Part 2, be sure to consult our review first, which awarded it full marks and called it a "generation-defining masterpiece." Also, check out our video highlighting how robust the in-game guitar in The Last of Us Part 2 is. We covered loads of great tracks from Soundgarden, to Pink Floyd, to Chris Isaak and beyond.

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