The Last of Us Dev Diaries: A Beautiful, Dangerous World
Surviving in the world of The Last of Us is going to be hard. Nature has spent the years growing unchecked, taking back land that was claimed by society. Mother Nature isn’t your only enemy, though, and with mutants and bandits itching to eliminate you, being resourceful with items scattered throughout the land is the key to living another day.
In Naughty Dog’s new Developer Diaries series, we are treated to insight on the production of The Last of Us, covering topics such as world design and scavenging to survive.
In ‘Beautiful Wasteland’, the second entry of the Dev Diaries, viewers are treated to insight about the process of building the world of The Last of Us. Amidst commentary by various members of the Naughty Dog’s art team, various locations from the game are displayed, showing the incredible level of detail put into creating a world in which nature has retaken.
“The Last of Us has really been a story of contrast,” says Creative Director Neil Druckman “it’s some very dark themes, but they are juxtaposed against an aesthetic that we find very beautiful.”
Druckman continues to say that there ‘is something very pretty about seeing nature reclaiming its domain after we are gone’, and with this in mind while watching the video, one cannot argue. The world, now overgrown, looks almost picturesque. Town streets are littered with rusted cars and lush foliage. The remnants of society have become one with nature, and it is hard to not be impressed with just how natural this really looks.
Lighting is another topic discussed at length in ‘Beautiful Wasteland’ and upon seeing the video, it is obvious that Naughty Dog is pulling all the stops when it comes to illumination (or lack thereof).The shadows shown off look realistic and fully realized. At one point, The Last of Us protagonist Joel shines his light from the ground to a red-tiled wall, showing how adding a light source to the wall causes the red to reflect around the room, just like it would in the real world.
While ‘Beautiful Wasteland’ shows just how impressive the world design is, Dev Diary 3 – ‘Death and Choice’ – focuses on scavenging whatever items you can and just how vital allocating your resources will be.
Society in The Last of Us is no more, and in the resulting chaos most things of value have been looted. This is not to say that the world is empty however, as the exact opposite is the case. Naughty Dog shows that while many of the resources have been taken or destroyed, the world is not completely picked over. There are still little items scattered throughout the buildings and areas that Joel will explore. These items will prove to be invaluable tools for survival, as learning to craft better items and weapons with them means living to see the morning.
“Throughout the world, the player finds different pieces of items – such as rags, alcohol, bits of blades, and bindings,” Lead Designer Jacob Minkoff explains “and you can combine these in different ways in order to create items that are useful for surviving in this world.”
Naughty Dog promises that scavenging and creating items won’t be as simple as just finding Item X and combining it with Item Y to make something better. Various crafting recipes will require the same components; forcing players to choose which potential item they think will benefit more. Druckman gives the example of choosing to use items to either create a Molotov cocktail, which will allow you to defeat a few enemies, or deciding instead to make a medkit to ensure your health. Choices, it seems, will have a lot to do with offensive or defensive related items.
The Last of Us is without a doubt a game being crafted by an expert team that truly is passionate about their product. Even in these short videos, it is apparent that an incredible amount of detail is being put into every aspect of the game’s development. Blending beautiful graphics and white knuckled survival, Naughty Dog is looking to create a game that will not soon be forgotten.
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