The one and Sony
What’s on the horizon for PS4?
Surprising us like a makeshift shiv slipping into your earhole, Naughty Dog has unveiled The Last Of Us Part II. Set five years after the ending of the first game, we rejoin Joel and 19-year-old Ellie in a world filled with mushroom zombies, raiders, and probably a healthy collection of ladders and planks. We don’t know how much has changed, but we are sure that Ellie can sing and play an acoustic guitar now, thanks to the goosebump-inducing trailer. Perhaps she can swim, too. The sequel won’t emerge until 2018 at the earliest, as the reveal was originally meant for E3 2017 – but Naughty Dog’s eagerness to show it off triggered an early unveiling. “It’s still early days for the project – the game’s release is a ways off – but we couldn’t wait any longer to give you a glimpse of what’s to come,” says creative director Neil Druckmann. “We’re going to let the trailer speak for itself, but expect more information in the coming months.”
The trailer opens with a shot of the woods – showing claw-marked trees, a felled swing, a burnt-out car and ramshackle houses – before cutting to the Naughty Dog logo. We then see a shaking hand, bruised and covered in sores, before the owner of said hand begins plucking that aforementioned guitar. It’s Ellie, and she’s sat alone in a house filled with bodies, singing an eerie rendition of Through The Valley by Shawn James. Joel walks in and asks if she intends to go ahead with her plan. With blood beading down her face, Ellie coldly vows to “kill every last one of them” – whoever they are.
“[In] the first game, the theme was about the love between these two characters… This story’s the counter of that,” Druckmann explains. “This story is about hate.”
The lead playable character here will be Ellie, just as she was in The Last Of Us’ brilliant DLC, Left Behind. Nobody knows who she’s out for revenge on, but one theory is that Joel is dead, he’s in Ellie’s head, and she wants payback over his murder. Don’t go hanging the wreaths just
“One theory is that joel is dead, he’s in ellie’s head, and she wants payback for his murder”
yet, though – the official wording from Naughty Dog suggests Joel still has a huge role to play.
“I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to finally be able to say that Ellie and Joel are back for another intense, harrowing, and emotional adventure,” Druckmann explains. “Like many of you, we have a deep love for the world of The Last Of Us and its characters, and while a sequel may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, that wasn’t the case. We knew that it needed to be a story worth telling – a story worthy of Joel
and Ellie. After spending years on different ideas (and almost giving up), we finally uncovered a story that felt special.”
Many felt like the ending of the first game was perfect and would prefer to just leave it as a special, one-off thing. For those people, Naughty Dog has one thing to say: have faith. “So much thought went into this,” says Druckmann. “I know there’s trepidation about going back to these characters. We feel that as well. No-one loves these characters more than we do, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have the right idea. I had ideas with different characters and it didn’t feel right. The Last Of Us is about these two characters. All I ask is that fans of the first one put some faith in us – we’re going to do right by you.”
Elsewhere in Naughty Dog land, the blockbuster studio has announced a standalone expansion for Uncharted 4, trumpeting the return of a much-loved character who didn’t feature in the main game’s storyline. Set entirely in India, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy places you in the shoes of Chloe Frazer – the sassy Aussie ass-kicker from the second and third games – as she’s accompanied by U4 villain Nadine Ross, who’s brilliantly introduced in gameplay footage kicking a man in the head and causing him to fall to his death. Classic Nadine. Naughty Dog took to Twitter after the trailer’s release to say this would be treated as a “new Uncharted game” that takes the form of a “standalone story chapter”. Its atmospheric streets look exactly as gorgeous as you’d expect.
Return of the Knack
In a big month for news on upcoming PS4 games, the world has also been introduced to the one everyone’s been waiting for – a sequel to PS4 launch title Knack. Oh yes. Knack is back, baby. Sony’s Japan Studio is having another crack at creating playable Pixar, then. There’s definitely promise there, especially since Knack 2 lets you and mates team up for some co-op scrapping, platforming and puzzle solving, with one player controlling Knack and the other player controlling, erm, blue Knack? Details are thin on the ground, but co-op seems like a good fit, and we’ll at least get to see all that lovely scattered debris running on PS4 Pro.
Another PS4 launch title that loved showing off its swanky particle effects was Resogun, Housemarque’s hyperactive, side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. The Finnish developer has a new game, too: a top-down, old-school, cyberpunk shooter called Nex Machina. As in Dead and Alien Nation, you’ll be using both sticks to move and shoot, but instead of cutting down zombies and E.T. invaders you’ll be putting an end to a machine uprising. By shooting them all directly in the face, naturally. Robots have faces, alright? You’ll be firing, slicing and dodge-dashing your way through the clanking hordes, all while bopping along to some funky synthwave. It looks frantic, colourful, and explosive.
And if you’re a fan of pretty pyrotechnics, Capcom also has an announcement to get your blood pumping. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017, bringing the next generation of the famous fighter into the Unreal Engine 4 where it’ll look better than ever. The action-packed trailer shows Captain Marvel and Iron Man facing off against Mega Man and Street Fighter’s Ryu. While traditionally the series has been a 3v3 scrapper, this sequel will focus on 2v2 battles instead, with players also jostling over Infinity Stones – game-changing power-ups that can turn the tide of an encounter. As for other changes, current rumours suggest that Marvel’s roster will be focused around the cinematic universe, with the 20th Century Fox-owned X-Men sitting this one out. Additionally, as part of the announcement, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been made available to download and play on PlayStation 4 immediately, with the fighter following on Xbox One and PC in March 2017.
That’s still not it for big game unveilings, with old-school gamers soon to be served a heaving buffet of spruced-up retro delights. 90s faves Parappa The Rapper, Wipeout, and Crash Bandicoot are all getting remastered, in a welcome if long-overdue move. Parappa bumps the rhythm action game up to 4K on PS4 Pro, and there’s a demo available right now. Wipeout Omega Collection is a remastered bundle of PS3 title Wipeout HD and its expansion Fury, plus PS Vita game Wipeout 2048. Fury is one of the best games in the futuristic racing series, and you’ll be able to tear down its sterile highways rendered at a dynamic 4K resolution. Lastly, Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy brings all of Crash’s PS1 adventures to PS4 with a remaster born from a similar ethos to Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – it’s the games you remember, but shinier and more accessible, with all-new assets and a checkpointing system that won’t make you want to do a murder. Sony is also planning remasters of beloved PSP games Patapon and LocoRoco – they’ll be coming to PS4 too. Now that’s what we call an upcoming line-up.
“Chloe frazer – the Aussie ass-kicker from Uncharteds 2 and 3 – returns in standalone expansion The Lo st Legacy”
Ellie is bruised and battered, but at least we know she is alive and real. Joel’s current status seems less concrete.
Returning protagonist Ellie has evidently made new friends in the half-decade since The Last Of Us’ open-ended finale. Just a handful of them might not be all that, uh, alive.
U2/3’s Chloe and U4’s Nadine look to be a rather deadlier pairing than Nate and Sully.
Crash will be exactly how you remember him – annoying camera angles and all, just much prettier.