If you haven’t played The Last of Us, stop reading, spoilers for the game and its upcoming DLC lie below.
This past Thursday, Sony revealed what the first single player story DLC for The Last of Us would be. It will involve the story between Ellie and her friend, Riley. For those of you who don’t remember, Riley was mentioned once in the last scene of the game, where Ellie tells Joel how she was not alone when she was bitten, instead she was in the company of another girl her age, that being Riley. Ellie survived, Riley did not. This DLC will be about that story and how those two came up to that dreadful moment, as I pressume.
There have been a lot of proposals for what The Last of Us’ story DLC should be. Me, and a lot of other people wanted to see Ish’s narrative fleshed out, another suggestion I heard was to do a prequel with Henry and Sam, or even Joel and Tess. There are multiple routes Naughty Dog could have taken with this first DLC, and those same routes still exist for future iterations.
If I had my choice I’d probably want to see Ish’s story, but after thinking about it I believe the path Naughty Dog chose was one of, if not the best route to take for this DLC. The first reason for this is the workload with which Naughty Dog has to deal with for this DLC.
When looking at all the possible stories they could tell in DLC, this story has some of the least amount of technical work for Naughty Dog to do. This is for a number of reasons, but mainly it’s the fact that we’ve already played as Ellie, so that takes away a huge chunk of time and energy that could be used on new things, such as new environments or gameplay elements.
This is important because anyone who has played The Last of Us knows that the narrative, and everything surrounding it was the main focus of the game. By cutting down on technical work, Naughty Dog can spend more time on refining the story, which benefits everyone within The Last of Us demographic.
Going along with that, I believe this DLC will also benefit from the fact that everyone who’s finished The Last of Us already knows the ending to it. That being, as mention above, Riley dies and Ellie lives. I say this because unlike games such as Bioshock: Infinite or Spec Ops: The Line, the narrative of The Last of Us was more about the journey of Ellie and Joel, rather than the end result.
Since everyone knows the ending to this narrative, Naughty Dog will be able to keep consistency within The Last of Us’ universe and the stories that come from it. This coherence can only help the series, and as long as Naughty Dog continues their trend of great storytelling, The Last of Us and the games that follow will only become better. Not saying that continually telling great stories is easy, but you and I both know that they’ve set a rock-solid foundation for branching stories, as well as completely new ones altogether.
I suppose the most interesting thing to watch with this DLC is how Naughty Dog changes, or doesn’t change, the gameplay that drives the narrative along. I say this because we don’t see Ellie become to confident with a gun until the middle to later parts of The Last of Us’ story, so it will be intriguing to see if there is more focus on stealth for this DLC since Ellie should be more limited than Joel when it comes to shooting down enemies.
It’s really a question of how true to the overarching narrative the developers want to be, and the gameplay will be a reflection of that.
Going forward, the fact that Naughty Dog chose this route for the first DLC may foreshadow for what’s to come next. Given that they are using Ellie as the playable character, I predict the next DLC (if there is one) will be another prequel following Joel and Tess. This would provide a similar scenario to how this current DLC is framed, and also provides a story that many people would be interested in.
Overall, I was really excited to see this DLC announced, and am looking forward to diving back into to the dystopian world of The Last of Us once again. Even more than that, it’s good to see another developer making DLC that adds to the experience of the original game; a trend that, thankfully, has become more popular the past few years.