Although The Last of Us Part 2 hit stores less than a week ago, fans are already wondering whether Naughty Dog is eyeing up a third installment for the franchise.
Outlet Indie Wire asked The Last of Us Part 2 creative director Neil Druckmann that very question in an interview published today . It’s packed with spoilers, so it’s best avoided if you’re still making your way through the game.
Unsurprisingly, Druckmann trod carefully, as he openly remarked. The general sense is that it may be best not to hold our collective breath.
As Druckmann explains, Naughty Dog will only entertain the notion of Part 3 if it can conjure up a narrative that matches the “emotional core” established in the original.
The decision to make Part 3 would come down to a similar test Naughty Dog conducted before jumping into the development of The Last of Us Part 2.
With the first game there were no expectations and it was like we could do anything. But now that we’ve established certain characters and themes and processes, it felt like to justify making a ‘Part II’ we had to do something not that fans would just be comfortable with, but do something that would match the emotional core we found in the first game.
Naughty Dog struggled to find that emotional core for Part 2. Druckmann reckons it would be “exponentially harder” to return to that world and justify yet another game.
The Naughty Dog president also pointed out the developer has extensively fleshed out the world of The Last of Us across the two existing games. Although this makes for an immersive and believable experience, it complicates the search for yet another compelling narrative worthy of a game.
Yet that doesn’t mean PlayStation fans should despair.
Because Druckmann also said this:
There’s already so many things you’ve seen about the backstory, about how the outbreak happens, so we’d really have to figure out how to create a new experience that matches the emotional impact of these stories and I don’t know what that is. Currently.
What’s interesting is that Druckmann hasn’t entirely written off the idea of Part 3. There’s a sense that Naughty Dog is open to a further game. But only if it can match the same standard of quality as the original and Part 2.
Of course, uncertainty about whether Naughty Dog will revisit the franchise isn’t the only reason the hype for a third game is ridiculously premature.
Should Naughty Dog opt to make The Last of Us Part 3, we still have a long old wait before we even know about it. And even longer before it releases.