It wouldn't be a stretch to say that one of the most talked-about and heavily discussed games last year was Naughty Dog's magnum opus - The Last of Us Part II. In the latest episode of Script Apart, a podcast that discusses first-draft details and secrets about great films, game director Neil Druckman and creative lead Halley Gross revealed the original ending to The Last of Us Part II.
The ending was a much different take on the story, with Ellie killing Abby in Rattler's compound. The end of the game was much more optimistic, with Ellie reclaiming parts of her humanity by not killing Abby.
The game carried forward the studio's reputation as masterful storytellers in the video game medium, and its ambitious story and narrative invited all sorts of debate.
The Last of Us Part II was always meant to evoke a wide variety of emotions, as was its design, as director and co-writer Neil Druckmann has repeatedly pointed out. As a result, the community had been locked into a debate that rages on to this day, regarding the story and its ultimate result.
Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross shed light on The Last of Us Part II's original ending in a recent podcast
Gross was brought in to work on The Last of Us Part II as the narrative lead and writer. She had previously worked on massive projects like HBO's excellent "Westworld," as well as an episode of "Banshee."
The pair detailed a rather grim ending to The Last of Us Part II that saw Ellie going through with her plan to kill Abby. After which, when she returns to the farm, she finds a stranger waiting for her, quite clearly, to get revenge for her actions in Seattle and kill Ellie.
After seeing how Ellie was only a little older than a teenager, the person decides not to her. At which point, the game ends with Ellie stuffing one of JJ's toys into her backpack, signaling to the audience that she is indeed making her way back to Jackson.
The ending was scrapped, as the pair felt they needed to stay true to Ellie's character in The Last of Us. Meaning, despite her actions in the sequel, there is still a ray of positivity and opportunity for redemption for her, which is why she does kill Abby in the end.
Plus, they also felt that leaving one of the most important decisions of the game's story to a stranger at the end did not quite track. Which is why the ending was ultimately changed for Part II, and kept much more ambiguous, with Ellie walking into the distance, with the audience not clued in.
The Last of Us Part II was initially going to be open-world
Druckmann has previously stated the original plans for The Last of Us Part II to be a kind of open-world title. With multiple open-world hubs, such as Jackson and Seattle.
The original structure for the game followed Abby and her crew being rescued by Joel and Tommy and ushered into Jackson. After which, the player, as Abby, completes several missions for the Jackson settlement, even forming a bond with Joel.
But ultimately, Abby reveals her identity and brutalizes Joel. After which point, the players control Ellie as she travels to Seattle, another open-world zone, where she seeks out the WLF and Abby to get justice for Joel.
This was ultimately scrapped as it did not feel in line with what The Last of Us was meant to be. Its place was a much more traditional story, but with an ambitious non-linear structure, especially at the halfway point of the game.