The original ending to The Last of Us Part II was going to put Ellie down an even darker path. In an interview with Game Informer, creative director Neil Druckmann and narrative lead Halley Gross discussed the final moments in the PlayStation 4 exclusive. It should go without saying that there are major spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
“When I signed on a lot of it was very similar,” Gross revealed. “We did a lot of iterations on what that last act looked like, but the final beat was that Ellie would kill Abby. About halfway through production, we changed that and had Ellie let go at the last second to [illustrate] that some little part of the old Ellie, the Ellie with humanity, the Ellie that is impacted by Joel, still exists within this character who has been so overtaken by her quest for revenge.”
The change occurred as the narrative team was discussing the fates of Lev and Yara as they originally had permutations with each of them dying or surviving. After it was argued that Lev should survive, Druckmann felt that Ellie shouldn’t kill Abby anymore. Gross was shocked by the suggestion as she didn’t even know that changing the ending was on the table. Given the way the game turned out, however, and the semblance of humanity that Ellie is able to salvage, this decision was likely for the best. It also opens up even more possibilities in a potential third game.
“Letting Abby live felt wrong thematically initially,” Druckmann said. “But at the end of the day, it felt more honest for the character. The theme [and] what we’re trying to say shifted a little bit, but our top priority always is are we being honest to the character? There’s certain things we are trying to hit but they can only work if we’re consistent with the character we’re writing.”
Druckmann also revealed that when writing a character, he feels it is more important to keep a character’s motivation consistent over time than to make them likable as there will always be haters. One of Naughty Dog’s other characters, Nathan Drake, will be hitting the big screen next year as the oft-delayed Uncharted film starring Tom Holland has entered production.
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