Sony opened its E3 press conference this year with an unorthodox bang, packing assembled journalists and fans into an ersatz, standing-room-only church to show off the newest gameplay and cut scene footage of The Last of Us Part 2. The gripping trailer transitions abruptly from a heartwarming scene of awkward teenage romance at a dance to protagonist Ellie’s brutal fight for survival against a gang of equally brutal adults.
Last of Us Part 2 co-writer Halley Gross told Ars this contrast in the trailer reflects a very conscious tension in the game and in Ellie herself. In the four or five years since the end of the first Last of Us, Gross said the now-19-year-old Ellie has been able to finally find a sense of normalcy and family in a world broken by the Infected hordes. “We’ve been able to invest
her relationships,” Gross says. “She’s been able to be a teenager, she’s been able to feel a real sense of stability that she hadn’t felt before the end of the first game.”
That stability means the opportunity for Ellie to explore her sexuality, as reflected in the passionate lesbian kiss Naughty Dog put front and center in the trailer. “Ellie’s a gay character and one of the things we’re really excited about with this game, as [Last of Us writer] Neil [Druckmann] started with the first game, is to show how complicated and complex and beautiful she is as a character,” Gross said. “Of course, she’s a 19-year-old. She’s gonna have… crushes, right? That’s one of the things we’re really jazzed to show. It’s a part of her character.”