A closer look at The Last of Us Part II’s new trailer

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Today, Naughty Dog released the latest trailer for The Last of Us Part II during Sony’s press conference at Paris Games Week. This trailer, which slates the game for a 2019 release, has already been met with a mix of praise and criticism from fans for what is, and isn’t, included in the 5 minute video. Most notably, there is no sign of Joel or Ellie, or any other familiar faces from the original cast of characters. Instead, we meet four new characters: Yara, Lev, Emily, and an unnamed woman.

The trailer opens with the unnamed woman being strung up on a noose by two faceless individuals. There is a car fire burning in the background and it is raining, setting the mood for the grisly scenes to follow. We don’t know who any of these people are, or what factions they belong to. Fans immediately began to speculate that this unnamed woman is Anna Williams, Ellie’s mother, based on her resemblance to Ellie and the fact that Naughty Dog withheld her name following the trailer’s release.

One of the figures removes her hood, which cinematically places her as a main character in the story being told. Naughty Dog identified her in a tweet as Emily, voiced by Emily Swallow. Emily mutters something about the unnamed woman being full of sin, and begins to cut the unnamed woman with a knife before two more people bring in a new character: Yara.

This is where we start to get dipped into this new story that Naughty Dog is telling. Emily asks Yara where the “other apostate” is. An apostate is someone who denounces a religious or political belief. Based on Emily’s previous mentioning of sin, I’m leaning toward the former. So now we know two things: Emily is a member of a religious group, and Yara is fighting against them.

Religious zealots are not unknown to the Last of Us universe — but the viewer is left with questions. Why are these two groups fighting? What triggered the conflict? When does this take place? If the unnamed woman really is Anna Williams, there are two options. Either this takes place between two and six years after the outbreak (based on the presence of Clickers at the end of the scene and the year Ellie was born), or it takes place in the present-day and Anna is still alive. The second option opens up a pathway for Ellie’s involvement in the on-screen conflict, and perhaps even provides context to the chilling final line of the first trailer.

The next several moments fall into genre-appropriate (but still unsettling) violence. Emily orders two survivors to “clip [Yara’s] wings,” and they use a hammer to break Yara’s arm before one of the men is shot with an arrow. A struggle ensues, and Emily is killed. In enters the trailer’s final character: Yev. Yev checks on Yara, who says “the demons are coming” (referring, I assume, to the infected), and asks Yev to cut the unnamed woman down.

The trailer ends with Yara, Yev, and the unnamed woman facing down a horde of incoming clickers, a sight that gave me a chill of excitement and anticipation.

While many fans met the trailer with excitement and enthusiasm over these new characters, there were others that were left disappointed. Outside of the theory that the unnamed woman is Anna, the viewer has no idea how these characters are related to Joel and Ellie. Many were especially disappointed at the absence of the original protagonists altogether. The characters that the player already cares about are conspicuously missing from the scene, which has some worried that Joel and Ellie will move from the game’s spotlight, despite the initial trailer establishing that The Last of Us Part II is still very much Ellie’s story.

Others have also criticized the lack of context. Until the final credits roll, there’s no hint that this is The Last of Us. Fans have posited that it would have been more beneficial to include some hint or reference to the original trailer — even a glimpse of some Firefly grafiti — to let the audience know what the setting is. It also came with no in-universe context. We don’t know when or where this is, who the characters are, or what their motivation is. While this is exciting for me, who loves to theorize and connect the dots, this can be frustrating for players who are looking for more straight-forward exposition.

The trailer is an exciting look at the newest angle on the The Last of Us universe, and I’m looking forward to getting more information and context in the coming year.

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Your Dungeon Master, best friend, and contributor for Obilisk.

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