It sounds like The Last of Us Part 3 already has a story, with Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann teasing what's next for Ellie and Abby.
Things might've gone quiet on the world of The Last of Us since the release of Part II, but rest assured, Naughty Dog hasn't forgotten about its showstopping survival horror series. Following the success of 2013's The Last of Us, it would be another seven years of rumours, delays, and development hell before we'd get to jump back into the lives of Ellie and Joel for Part II.
While the sequel proved to be one of the most divisive games in living memory, that hasn't stopped Game Director Neil Druckmann already sketching his plans for a trilogy with a story for The Last of Us Part 3. There were plenty of dangling threads we could pick up in Part 3, and with recent claims the studio has pulled out of work on an Abby DLC, it looks like this world can only continue in one way.
What's going on with The Last of Us Part 3 story?
They're just not focusing on making the game at this moment.
Possibly working on an all new game, perhaps even a new uncharted?
Personally, this makes me very excited!
Speaking to the Script Apart podcast, Druckmann confirmed there's been "quite a bit" of talk from Naughty Dog about where a sequel could head. It's imperative to reiterate The Last of Us Part 3 isn't in active development, however, Druckmann has been mulling over the idea of a story that would continue "some structural and thematic themes" that made the first two games such a standout.
Discussing what we could see next, Druckmann said, "We've now had two games that I feel speak to something universal as well as telling a very personal story for these characters. With one game, there's no pattern of what a franchise is. With two games, now there's starting to be a pattern - now I feel like there are some structural and thematic themes you would have to stick to if you were making a third game".
In terms of who a third game would focus on, it could follow the mechanics of the second game in reverse order - having the first half playable as Abby and the second as Ellie. Then again, there's sure to be an army of fans who'd love to play as Tommy and see if this one-eyed survivor gets his quest for revenge. Finally, some Joel flashbacks would also be a welcome addition. Now that our hopes for a DLC have been seemingly dashed, a full-blown third game looks even more likely. The question is, when?
Will there be The Last of Us Part 3?
Ultimately, Druckmann circled back to the point that nothing's written in stone. Playing coy, he admitted, "I don't know how much I want to reveal, [Co-writer Halley Gross] and I did write an outline for a story, that we're not making - but I hope one day can see the light of day - that explores a little bit what happens after this game. We'll see". At least the words that he hopes the third game will come out further down the line means he's open to revisiting the story.
From Crash Bandicoot to Uncharted, Naughty Dog isn't exactly known for one and done games. Expanding on how the Naughty Dog process works, Druckmann concluded, "After we finish one of our big titles, we take a long time to explore different ideas, whether it's going to be Last of Us 3, whether it's something new, whether there's some old franchise we want to go back to,
"I like to fully explore all of those, and then look at, okay, we have all of these ideas in front of us. As a studio, what do we want to commit to? Because it's a huge commitment - monetary, time, passion, talent, so you think about all the opportunity costs that come with that".
All of it sounds promising, but let's remember Naughty Dog might have its plate full. As well as Druckmann teasing several exciting projects in the pipeline, there are continued rumours that a next-gen remaster of The Last of Us is coming to the PlayStation 5. We previously saw The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4, but with that being back in 2014, a lot has changed in the gaming world since then. After that, it's likely we'd see The Last of Us Part II remastered before Part 3. Still, Druckman isn't bludgeoning the franchise to death with a golf club just yet.
Images via Sony Interactive Entertainment