In an extensive interview with GQ regarding the struggles of developing The Last of Us Part 2, creative director Neil Druckmann addresses the possibility that Naughty Dog’s next project could be The Last of Us Part 3.
“As you start wrapping things up, creatively there are fewer and fewer responsibilities and my mind can’t help but think about the next thing,” Druckmann says. “So, yeah, the next thing could be a Part III, the next thing could be some new IP.”
Regarding the chances of a third The Last of Us game, Druckmann also states that he and the rest of the team struggled for quite some time as to whether or not they should develop a direct sequel to The Last of Us in the first place. Simply put, they just didn’t know if a sequel was worth risking the status of the original game.
“The first game is so sacred. The ending is so sacred,” Druckmann says. “People are always like, ‘Do another one but focus [on] all new characters.’ Or like, ‘Do it in, like, Europe. Or do it in Japan. Do something really different.’”
Interestingly, it doesn’t sound like the team ever gave meaningful consideration to the possibility of utilizing an entirely different setting and entirely different characters for The Last of Us Part 2. Druckmann goes so far as to refer to that approach as the “coward’s way out.”
“To me, at that point, you might as well just do a new IP,” Druckmann notes regarding the possibility of such sweeping sequel changes. “Versus saying: no, we’re gonna double down and we’re gonna expose what this ending means. To take some of the things that people hold sacred and just… dismantle it.”
Considering Druckmann’s thoughts regarding further adventures in The Last of Us universe, we’d almost be tempted to suggest that a new IP is more likely to be Naughty Dog’s next project rather than a direct sequel to The Last of Us Part 2. After all, it sounds like the team genuinely isn’t interested in developing a game for that series just to slap the name on the box.
As Druckmann indicates, though, the best idea will ultimately prove to win the day. If The Last of Us Part 2 proves to be a hit and the team finds a way to further what will almost assuredly be the sequel’s somewhat controversial story, then it’s entirely possible they’ll return to it immediately for what would likely be a PS5 sequel. If not, then we’re thrilled to see what the studio does next.