The sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. Needless to say the stakes for this are a mile high. I saw the original trailer and I was pretty interested. Why is Ellie on the war path? What is Joel’s role in this? Will it stick with the moral framework of the previous game? A dark narrative about the cost of living and the cost of being a good person when lights are gone and the cops don’t exist anymore. I loved the dark themes and the brutal combat. Joel and Ellie and their dichotomy was absolutely fantastic, and I am genuinely eager to see what they get up to next. So let’s take a look at this trailer and see if it measures up.
We open up with a ho-down. Okay. I’m sure this is going to go somewhere. Our girl Ellie is there and is looking longingly at some Indian girl. I’m speaking about people from India, not Native Americans. Alright. Then Asian dude comes up to her to talk. So this game has all the diversity of a college campus pamphlet because Neil Druckmann thinks that Anita Sarkeesian has a point. Even when her and her ex-affiliate Josh McIntosh shit-talk his games. Funny how that works. Okay, whatever. So long as they’re good characters, I don’t care. But this trailer is boring me.
The trailer goes on with this 90210 bullshit. Where is this going? What is this place, anyway? Is it Tommy’s compound? How have they maintained power over all this time? With no way to replace parts for the hydroelectric dam, if things break, how do they keep the lights on? I’m so bored by the stupid banter between these characters I don’t know and the one I do know that I’m finding plot holes. This isn’t a good look.
We see the banter turn to romantic banter. Okay. Since I don’t know who this chick is, I don’t really care. I guess it’s a cute scene, but I don’t give a fuck. They kiss. Okay. Good for them. Happy couple. Where the fuck is this going?! Then it cuts to her killing someone. Oh hey! Now we’re back on point!
Okay, I have SO many follow-up questions. For starters, where is Joel? Asian dude alludes to him being overprotective, and Ellie seems to agree. It comes off as a little bit of animosity between them. So, is the game going to tell us what happened between them? Asian dude calls him her old man. That’s interesting. Because the audience could see that Joel and Ellie were forming a relationship as surrogate father and daughter. It’s part of what made their dynamic so beautiful and tragic. What happened? Their connection tied in to the message of the game and I kinda wanna know where these two are at. He is mentioned and then brushed off.
Given that we have India lesbian girl as the central focal point of this trailer (which again I want to stress I don’t care about, so long as she is not a boring Mary Sue), is our connection in this game supposed to be her and Ellie’s relationship? I assume that she’s dead by the time we get to where the actual gameplay starts. I mean, what else would drive Ellie to be so eager to go back to her killing ways? In the last trailer she hinted that she was looking to get some very sweet revenge for what these bandit group has done. Given these two being all kiss-y would imply be killing her girlfriend, which would point that being the central conflict.
Here’s the problem – I don’t know this character. My hope is that if she’s interesting enough, I will come to feel bad about her being murdered. Druckmann has shown that he can write a solid relationship. It’s how I felt bad about Joel’s daughter being killed at the beginning of the last game. But you spend a solid four minutes on these two’s dynamic, and I don’t know who this love interest is. It really makes me wonder what the purpose of putting that in the trailer was, if not to win SJW brownie points. You’ve shown that you seek these people’s approval, after all, so it wouldn’t surprise me.
It’s unfortunate that the India lesbian is probably dead by the point where Ellie is being violent again. I get the feeling that the moral quandary here is that she was living a very upstanding life, outside of the violence that her and Joel found so easy to embrace in the previous game. The violence that she wanted to give her life for, rather than be forced to live with it. They had to accept the people they had become by the end, because Ellie chose to accept her surrogate father’s lie about what happened at the Fireflies base, rather than the truth.
Part of me would like a scene where Indian lesbian sees this part of her girlfriend. Where she sees this violence inside of her that she is now openly embracing all over again. A part that I get the feeling she spent years trying to get away from. Now it’s all back, and she has gone back to that life without a backward look. A moment where the girlfriend sees that person that Ellie is willing to let herself be come and being horrified by it sounds kinda fun. It fits with the theme of the universe in the game. At least from the last game. I’m not too sure if this game will remember that. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t.
Also, openly gay characters in a post-apocalyptic setting interests me. In the last game, we had Bill. He clearly had a very ugly relationship with someone who hated him for his quirks and his conservative outlook on how to live his life and be regimented about all things at all times. The game put that relationship and its falling apart as a very hard thing because in a world where so many people are dead, infected, or crazy, finding gay love must be the hardest thing in the world. And given how in situations where order breaks down, conservative ideologies tend to flourish rather than liberal ones, being openly gay must be a HUGE risk to take. Unless Neil Druckmann is going to just avoid talking about that. It’s a magical world where reality and the ugly parts of it don’t exist.
I’m not saying I hate this little romantic thing Ellie and India chick have going. My problem is that if you’re going to put this relationship in this setting, at least take the time to acknowledge that it’s going to be uncomfortable. Or difficult. Don’t just tell us that it’s totally normal part of that society.
Back to where the trailer is. Ellie has knifed a dude and is back in form. Alright. I like this. Let’s talk about the actual gameplay. Oh my Groj, the environments in this game are gorgeous. I noticed that Ellie seems to be able to hide in tall vegetation, much like in Uncharted 4. I liked it in that game, and I like it here too. So why is this player having her skirt around her enemies? That’s not smart. Especially since she just killed a dude. It’s always smarter in these games to clear out your enemies. Less chance of detection. When they find dead bodies, they raise the alarm, you know.
I also caught that you can go prone through shorter vegetation. Yes! I like that too. The sneaking possibilities in this game are expanded. This makes me happy on a lot of levels. Can’t help but notice those two guards you didn’t kill before raised the alarm. Sure would have helped if you had taken them out so you can kill the enemies better. Whoever is playing this gameplay bit is an idiot. Also, are you unable to do the listening thing from the first game? Because it seems an obvious thing to do given how the player never seems to know where the enemy is.
Given that Druckmann takes what Anita Sarkeesian and her ilk say seriously, it is interesting that we see that now, not only can you kill women, you can kill minority women too. I’m actually not against that. I like seeing the people you have to murder get changed up a bit. The white man as being the only ones with the potential for evil is a tired cliche. The combat also seems to have gotten a bit of revision. Is there a kind of dodge mechanic? It looks that way? Or at least a parry mechanic to avoid hits. I like that too. The brawler combat from the last game did kind of get old pretty quick. And since Ellie is small, dodging is a good way to get around her smaller size than her opponents.
After having to run away because the player is an idiot and didn’t realize that it’s better to kill all of your enemies as you go, we have Ellie using tall grass to hide in. Again, I like this. Then we see her hiding under a car! That’s cool as shit! And you can use weapons under the car. That’s pretty cool too. Though, a silent weapon would be better. Not sure what that would be given the tight space under a vehicle, but just floating that idea. This person playing really doesn’t get being stealthy.
Some more gunplay because this person can’t do headshots, and we see another thing that caught my eye – arrows stick out of you when you get hit. That’s kinda neat. Like a mechanic where if you get hit with physical projectiles you have to deal with that. You can also use bad guys as a shield! That’s cool as fuck! I would abuse this SO Much. There is also some nice destruction of the environment in this game. That’s a nice touch. I also like how taking ammo out of corpses like arrows is more involved. Another nice touch. The little nice touches are adding up.
Then we see something I was really hoping would be improved upon – the crafting mechanic. You can make different kinds of ammo! Yes! So many possibilities. This game seems to be big on giving you lots of new tools to deal with the apocalypse. You can also pick up ammo enemies drop when they’re hurt! More and more nice touches that go a long way.
Finally, we cut back to 90210 with a character I have no reason to care about. REALLY hoping we come to care about this character and not have her be a boring token. Thus far, I’ve seen how Druckmann still has the capacity to write good characters. But he led on this trailer with this, so he’s putting all his chips in this basket. Best of luck.
Overall, the gameplay looks slick as fuck, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Hyped to see what comes next
PS: Wait a tick! Something just occurred to me. India lesbian looks kinda familiar. And it is fitting, since Neil Druckmann takes this woman seriously. Am I the only person who thinks that she looks a bit like Anita Sarkeesian? I can’t be the only person who sees the resemblance. Is this Neil fanboying over Anita by putting her in a video game?! I mean, we already have Anita’s self-insert fantasy game, but now we have this guy putting her in his video game. I CANNOT be the only one who noticed this.