Neil Druckmann, creative director at Naughty Dog on games such as The Last Of Us and Uncharted 4, has dropped a hint as to his next project.
Druckmann spoke with The Frame at length about his creative process. His stories have always been character driven, he says, to the point where he will often start writing a story in the middle and decide what their past is based on how they converse.
Perhaps because of this process, the interviewer suggests that many of Neil Druckmann’s titles often have a central theme of trying to change (or at least understand) the present by delving into the past. Druckmann’s reply (emphasis added): “You’ve noticed a pattern that I haven’t. But that’s interesting and it’s interesting in that I think about the story I’m working on right now; [that theme is] definitely there. I think a lot of times because I think about myself or other human beings and what are the events that have shaped us? What are kind of the choices that have defined who we are and have led us to this place?”
Naughty Dog has confirmed Uncharted 4 DLC and all but confirmed The Last Of Us 2 is in development, so this game could well be either of those. As the DLC is probably nearing the end of development, it is perhaps most likely that this is the continuation of his brainchild The Last Of Us.
The post-apocalyptic game was widely lauded as one of the best games of the last generation for its mature storytelling and ability to interrogate and advance the medium without using “meta” devices. (For example: The player/protagonist kills hundreds of people, and the characters in-game acknowledge this realistically, coming to fear him.) Druckmann discusses the game further, admitting it was actually an idea that originated in a college-years pitch to George Romero, the godfather of zombie films. The original idea included a cop that loses his daughter, meets a teenage girl, and has to cross the country, at one point becoming injured so that she has to take care of him. Sound familiar?
Aside from The Last of Us, there is also the possibility that this “story” is something entirely new, or perhaps a personal project for Druckmann. Whatever the case, we can safely bet it will be a character study, and it will question you as much as you question it.