A SEQUEL to The Last of Us needs to shake up the formula.
On the surface, the trailer suggests this isn’t going to happen, but if you look a little deeper; it just might.
If my theory is correct, it is going to try and be an even darker story than before.
Joel is dead.
I imagine he is killed near the game’s start, this would align with what developers have been saying about Ellie being angry and seeking revenge.
Joel’s death is also hinted at in the trailer.
First, Ellie is shaking and must focus before she starts playing the guitar.
She is going to her happy place, where her close friend/father-figure can be found.
She reaches this happy place by playing the guitar, something we know Joel taught her to do at the end of the first game.
“Once we’re done with this whole thing, I’m guna teach you how to play guitar.”
Then, Joel walks in from a bright light. Like he is materialising from the beyond, or heaven even.
He is so stereo-typically ‘Joel’, he has his signature revolver, jacket and beard; he hasn’t aged a day.
This makes no sense, he was 50 in the original and his hair is no more grey or thin.
Look at Ellie, a lot has happened in five years, she’s got new tattoos and a whole hipster hill-billie look going on.
But Joel, nah. I’m not buying it.
Naughty Dog would not resist the opportunity to redesign the character.
There is a reason he’s copied from the original; he’s not real.
“You really guna go through with this?”
His voice is something Ellie associates with safety and home, this guy has saved her life on more than one occasion (plus visa-versa).
It makes sense for her to imagine hearing him when grounding herself.
This line is also very similar to things we’ve heard him say before, enforcing the idea that he’s a memory.
Another clever little inclusion, or omission I should say, is Joel’s face.
A rule of cinema is that no-one is dead unless you see them die.
Similarly, no one is alive until you see their face, just ask Mrs Norma Bates.
Creative Director Neil Druckmann has said Joel will play a big part but it is never actually confirmed that it’s him in the trailer.
It could be a memory or his brother Tommy has gruffed his voice up a bit.
Could it be that Ellie and Tommy end up travelling across the country seeking revenge, and Ellie keeps mistaking Tommy for Joel along the way?
We will see.
Batman: Arkham Knight proved that iconic characters don’t need to be alive to have an impact.
If the Joker can do it, so can Joel.