A hapless man struggles on the floor, only to get a shotgun round blasted to his face. Then, thunderous applause fills the auditorium.
The Last of Us‘ E3 stage demo was incredibly violent, and any unknowing onlooker might see our industry’s reaction to such a demo as off-putting. However, Neil Druckmann, creative director for Naughty Dog’s upcoming shooter, argues that there’s reason for such brutality. “The violence you see inside this world isn’t gratuitous and over-the-top just for the sake of being violent. It’s setting a tone. It’s setting a reality that Joel and Ellie are having to deal with,” Druckmann said. “Everything has to feel tense. Everything has to feel grounded in reality. The reason why we’re going for such realistic violence is because we want you to believe that the stakes are high for Ellie and Joel.”
While the player’s journey in The Last of Us will be gory, Ellie does offer something of a moral compass. Although hardened by the post-apocalyptic world she’s grown up in, she will still comment on Joel’s most brutal actions. “She probably views violence a little differently than you and I would view it. She’s lived in a world where she’s seen people get executed, she’s seen people get infected, and she’s seen people get their heads lobbed off when they get infected,” Druckmann detailed, adding: “there’s still a point where Joel will do stuff that bothers her, but it’s way past the point of what we might find comfortable.”
Although certain battles can be stealthily avoided, violence is ultimately unavoidable due to the game’s design. While you’ll still have to kill in order to win, Druckmann says that “you should feel bad when you kill these guys because they’re trying to survive as well.”
The Last of Us will be available on May 7.
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The Last of Us director defends the game’s violence