Can you, yes you the reader, make a better story than The Last Of Us?
For those of you who say the world of The Last of Us has a lot of potential beyond Joel and Ellie. Let's play a little game. Think of the best idea you can for The Last of Us 2 that has nothing to do with Joel or Ellie. OK you got it, good, now ask yourself this, why would it need to have The Last Of Us title? And why does it need to be made by Naughty dog? Now I'm sure whatever you thought of would make a great game, book, or movie, but it has no reason to be connected to The Last Of Us, and you thought of the idea, why should it be Naughty Dog who makes it. If it's your idea, you should make it yourself. Yes Naughty Dog is a talented company, and The Last Of Us is a great game, one of the best. But The Last Of Us doesn't, and shouldn't, be the one franchise to show us what every inch of this post pandemic world. The Last Of Us already has its own story and characters, that still have a lot of potential that I really want to see. Instead of trying to tag your idea onto someone else's franchise, you should write it yourself, and who knows, maybe one day, it will become a hit, as big as The Last Of Us.
What's my point?
My point is, The Last Of Us is its own story, it's focused, it's grounded, it's an emotional and human story, about a man who learns to except another human being into his life, after the tragic death of his own daughter. A sequel to this game should further explore the relationship they've built over the first game. If Naughty Dog truly feels they've told everything there is to tell with Joel and Ellie, they should make something new, and not force a pointless spin off just because some people want to see what it would look like for Europe to be attacked by killer mushroom people.
Why I don't want new characters
As I have said, The Last Of Us is a focused and grounded story. The fact that the game was more focused on it's characters rather than it's world, is what made it stand out from all the other countless zombie games. We truly feel like we are the characters, because we know as much as they do. What we know about this world, we discover with these characters. If they were to make a bunch of spin offs, that show us more and more of this world, each game with a different character, it would take away from that immersion. Even if the next Last Of Us focuses on the new characters as much as the first game focused on Joel and Ellie, it would still become more focused on it's world than the characters, because what we know about the world, would be what Joel and Ellie know, plus what these new characters know, and we would feel more like an observer looking in. We wouldn't feel like we are the characters any more, because the new characters would be discovering a world we already know about, we would loose the feeling of being this character in this world, and as for any new knowledge, it may not feel as special because the ones we've started this journey with, would no longer be with us.
The reason so many of us want Joel and Ellie to come back in the sequel, is not just because we like them, but because the game puts us in their shoes. Playing The Last Of Us, we feel like we are these characters, we learn what they learn, we feel what they feel, for the game to then just say, "nope, you're someone else now" would take us out of that experience. When I play a game, I don't want to simply learn about another world, I want to be in that world. I don't want to simply tell my character what to do, I want to be that character, I want to feel what they feel, I want to grow with this character, I want to go on a journey through their life. If Naughty Dog decided to make The Last Of Us episodic, and showed us more of this world from different points of view, and with different stories. The Last Of Us would start to feel more like being in a classroom learning about this world rather than experiencing it. Continuing the story as Ellie, may make our exposure to this world a bit limited, but I think that's actually a good thing. The Last Of Us is a world that should stay as mysterious to us, as it is to Ellie.
Throughout The Last Of Us, we see the aftermaths of a few disastrous events. and parts of the world that are shrouded in mystery. these events and characters should stay mysterious. Naughty Dog should not show us every inch of this world, because if we were really in this world, we wouldn't know what happened to the rest of the world, in reality we wouldn't be able to see every inch of this world. What we learn about the world of The Last Of Us, should be through Ellie's eyes. Keeping Ellie as the main character, would be the best way to keep The Last Of Us a grounded and realistic story. Having The Last Of Us chronicle Ellie's life (possibly until her death, depending on how the story goes) would make for an intensely deep, emotional, and engaging story, that you would not be able to get from making The Last Of Us an episodic franchise.
In the beginning of this article, I've asked you to come up with your own original zombie apocalypse story. Leave what you came up with in the comments, I am curious to see what you came up with.