The Last of Us is one of the best games this generation and deserves every single ounce of praise it has received since its release. Naughty Dog not only crafted a unique and engaging world, but succeeded in delivering a cast of memorable and compelling characters that I learned to care for over the course of the game. Unlike Uncharted's over-the-top action and set-piece moments, The Last of Us stands out for its gritty realism and dynamic gameplay moments. Personally, it ranks as one of my favorite games of all-time and I'm not the only one at The Koalition that loved it. I cannot wait to play the first piece of The Last of Us DLC.
Part of what makes the game so special for so many gamers across the world isn't just the fact that you kill infected and see brains exploding in your face (although that does exist), but it's because of the quality storytelling and character development. Few games illicit the entire gamut of emotions from me as a gamer, but TLoU ranks as one of the most emotionally charged experiences I've ever had. As such, there is so much more story left to tell and so many places Naughty Dog could take the plot. We already know the game is getting at least one piece of single-player campaign DLC, but we have no idea where that story will take us. If you listened to our Breakdown podcast episode about The Last of Us, you probably have already started thinking about some ideas. Below you'll find five plots I think are worth exploring for The Last of Us in its upcoming DLC.
Between the events of the opening scene in the game and where the "real" game starts, 20 years pass by. Twenty long years full of death, chaos, destruction and loss of loved ones for the entire nation. As a player, it creates a stark contrast between the Joel at the start of the game (white-collared, working, single father) and the Joel for the rest of the game (rugged, smuggling killer). However, it would be extremely interesting to learn more about what happened during that time. How exactly did Joel and Tommy sour their relationship after the opening? Where and when exactly did Tess and Joel meet? These and several other questions could be addressed, further developing Joel's character.
Darkhorse comics penned a great prequel comic series that looks at Ellier and her exploits with Riley, as well as her starting relationship with Marlene. DLC that looked at this plot point in more detail would be great and well-received for several reasons: 1) People loved playing as Ellie, 2) A lot of gamers aren't familiar with the events and 3) It would mix up the setting, allowing us to see Ellie in her pre-base game state as a more innocent young girl. Additionally, we could play as Riley in some situations, further mixing up the gameplay style.
As shown recently by The Walking Dead's 400 Days DLC, you can introduce new characters into a story that was loved for its original characters and still find success. However, I don't think anyone in the universe would prefer to see the exploits of Frank JoeBob over the lives of Joel and Ellie. WIth that being said, it still offers room for diversity in storytelling and gameplay mechanics. Maybe we could play as a character that gets infected? Maybe we could play as a character that witnesses Joel and Ellie travelling together? Maybe we could play as one of David's men, flipping the good vs. bad dynamic on players, similar to Dishonored's superb DLC. There are a lot of options, but if they go this route and do not include Joel and Ellie in some way, I and most other gamers will be severely disappointed.
Last and definitely least in my book, would be a proper epilogue to the game's original ending. Most DLC these days seems to go this route - just give the player more of what they already liked. It makes sense for a game that doesn't really have a powerful conclusion, but for The Last of Us, it would essentially ruin what makes the ending so impactful - doubt. If we got to continue the story and found out whether Ellie believed Joel or not, I fear it would take away the magic of the original game's conclusion and I don't want that to happen. Maybe they can think of a more creative way to address the topic. Naughty Dog, please don't pull a reverse BioWare and release DLC that degrades your ending, rather than adding to or improving it.
Do you think they'll go a completely different path than what I've thought of so far? Maybe aliens invade and Joel and Ellie have to perform a fusion to become the ultimate zombie/alien slaying machine? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!