Naughty Dog Lowdown - Uncharted PS4 + The Last of Us Story DLC
The famed Santa Monica based developer came at us last night with updates on two of its most coveted, Sony exclusive IP’s. Let’s dig into the less enigmatic of the two announcements:
Undoubtedly my favorite title of the year, the third-person apocalyptic heartbreak simulator, The Last of Us, has had story DLC quietly in the works over the last several months. Now we finally know the name: Left Behind.
A prequel to Joel and Ellie’s giraffe filled adventure, Left Behind focuses on Ellie and Riley (first depicted in the comic American Dreams), a rebellious teen whom Ellie befriends within the military operated boarding school she attends. Spoiler alert: Expect your emotions to be damaged.
Priced at $14.99, Left Behind will hit PSN early 2014. Watch the teaser trailer hereabouts (light on the “trailer,” thick on the “teaser”).
And now for something cryptic. Naughty Dog announced a new Uncharted game! Annnnd… That’s it. ND swears there’s revealing hints to be found in this trailer, but it takes a better fan than I to be able to spot the bastards.
What’s certain is that it’s setting course exclusively for the PlayStation 4. What’s uncertain is everything else: Is Nathan Drake back? What’s the official title? When does it take place? Is the love of my virtual life Elena back?
Nothing official has been plotted, though rumors are already suggesting Sir Francis Drake may be the protagonist, making this Uncharted a period piece. More on this diddy as it develops, folks.
Grand Theft Auto V: New Gameplay and Screens Winning Me Over
Yesterday Rockstar pried open the seal on their upcoming mega-blockbuster, GTAV.
Now, I’ll be honest with you since I like the cut of your jib: I’ve fallen out of love with this crime-centric, do-anything-you-want open worlder in recent years. I was there for GTA in its top-down days when vehicular manslaughter meant flattening tiny sprites. And I was right there in its golden age when Rockstar brought the concept to the three-dimensional plane and, soon after, worldwide infamy.
But this generation GTAIV — and its DLC extensions — failed to win me over. It could’ve been the open-world genre had become commonplace by then, with some direct rivals owning better ideas than Rockstar’s once untouchable franchise. It could’ve been the disconnect between me and the surly war veteran I controlled, Niko Bellic, as he begrudgingly (if not reluctantly) submerged himself in a life of petty crime.
But GTAV…The initial story trailers have all kept the status quo — violent, comical characters engaging in capers that satirize pop culture and society. Pretty standard fare for this series. But then there’s this goddamn gameplay trailer which has me sold on the game ten times over. The notion of switching between three separate characters on the fly is exciting on paper, but watching it implemented seamlessly into the flow of an action thick mission glued my eyes to the screen. For a “Do Anything” series, there’s always been a forced rigidity as soon as you picked up a mission. Effortless, real-time character swapping looks to body this complaint head-on.
My other perpetual bone to pick with these games, the combat, has also been banged out and shaped into a beastlier form, perhaps borrowing from the publisher’s experience on Max Payne 3 (kudos on the weapon wheel, Rockstar). Throw in a gigantic Los Santos with more depth and opportunities for interaction than this franchise has ever seen, mix that up with a slew of customization for your trio and the vehicles they acquire (see: steal), and layer it all with Rockstar’s now unmistakeably signature style. When September 17th rolls around, I doubt there’ll be any hesitation in the nerve bundles between my brain and wallet.
The Last of Us is Selling Like There’s No Tomorrow
For a game that many admit makes them cry within the first fifteen minutes, it is surely putting up its dukes at retail.
With 3.4 million boxed and digital copies sold in the three weeks since its release, Sony confirms The Last of Us is the fastest selling PlayStation 3 title of 2013.
I’m incapable of being surprised by this news. I’ve quickly called it one of my favorite games of all time and a modern masterwork of interactive storytelling. Naughty Dog, I even picked out a plump box quote from my review for your inevitable Game of the Year Edition: “It’s fucking awesome. It’s really just so very fucking awesome.”
'Course, the end of the world is far from over as the game's newly formed legion of instant fans still have story-based DLC roving their way in the near future. Plus, with numbers like that, you can bet Sony isn't keen on letting The Last of Us stand alone for long…
Naughty Dog: “There Are People in the Studio That Would Love to Come Back to These Characters”
So. What does having one of the most widely beloved and critically acclaimed games of this generation get you? “A sequel,” screamed every publisher on the face of the planet loud enough to sunder it.
That’d be the traditional school of thought. Like Hollywood, the gaming industry no longer puts their chips behind one-off, difficult to market affairs. Every time a new IP is born, publishers typically bank on it becoming an overnight franchise. But The Last of Us isn’t your typical IP. I saw something incredibly special and engrossing in the game and, more than apparently, I’m not alone. It’s a unique title with an ephemeral quality I sincerely doubt a sequel could replicate.
But does developer Naughty Dog feel the same? The game’s creative director and scribe, Neil Druckmann really doesn’t mind if a follow up never gets off the ground. “We were very conscious that we didn’t want to leave this story dangling,” said Druckmann to PlayStation blog. “If we never do a sequel, we’re okay with it because we told the story we needed to tell.”
Fair enough. A masterpiece usually doesn’t finish with “To Be Continued…” (unless we’re talking about Back to the Future, but I shouldn’t even have to spout such universally known facts). Speaking to Kotaku, however, The Last of Us sounds more like a misnomer than anything, with Druckmann stressing that this one journey — referring to the central plot set up in this game — is complete for Joel and Ellie, yet the rest of his team isn’t against further Cordyceps-tactular misadventures.
"…As far as whether we come back to Joel and Ellie or not, or whether we come back to the world or not, that’s all up in the air," said the writer. "I can tell you there are people in the studio that would love to come back to these characters, but the only way we would do it would be if we had something new, something meaningful to say. Because the last thing we would want to do is repeat ourselves."
I found the end of Joel and Ellie’s narrative deeply satisfying, but truth be told — and this is a lightweight spoiler — the finale does leave a wide enough door open for a continuation. Does it need it? Hell, no. Would I be against revisiting two of the most roundly developed and engaging characters in video game history? Hell, no.
Until The Next to Last of Us is a reality, fans of the instant classic are able to look forward to single-player DLC focusing on a side-story that Naughty Dog assures us will reveal more about the characters and the post-apocalyptic world they struggle to stay alive in.
There are games and then there are experiences. With Naughty Dog’s recent step up in pedigree through its widely acclaimed Uncharted trilogy, I went into The Last of Us expecting quality, of course, but I came out the other side of its campaign unquestionably floored.
I really hadn’t anticipated to have my very emotions put through the ringer like this. Over the course of about ten hours, I went on a grueling, thoughtful, gorgeous, and almost tough to swallow adventure that echoed the sentiments of countless apocalyptic literature and film so effectively that, often, it transcends the works it set out to pay respects to.
Let’s cut the pretense and get down to brass tacks. The Last of Us is not just the best game to come out of Naughty Dog’s doors, and it’s not just the best exclusive title the PlayStation 3 has ever housed. And it’s not just the best original IP of the year (which it is, even with more than half a year left of 2013). No, no, that’s too small of scale to view this rarity of a game on. Believe you me, my next words are not ones I loose unto the world lightly nor often:
The Last of Us is easily one of the best video games ever made.
The Last of Us (PS3) - May 7th
There’s just something magical about a dilapidated, crumbling apart post-apocalyptic landscape because the setting almost always makes for some extremely beautiful gaming environments.
Naughty Dog’s next big game may have been quiet for a little while, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding just around the corner waiting to snatch you up (and, my, it’s good to see a glimpse of what ND can do with horror). May’s fast approaching, folks.
The Embargo’s Over, PS3 Faithful: Skyrim DLC Finally Releasing
Better late as hell than never, eh? After an exhausting wait for even the most weathered journeyer, Bethesda has announced Skyrim's downloadable content is at last releasing for the PlayStation 3 next month starting with the Dragonborn expansion.
To date, the PS3 version of Skyrim has missed out on three separate DLC expansions that the Xbox 360 has already enjoyed and basked in, each originally planned for only a 30-day exclusivity period on Microsoft’s console. Technical difficulties, delays, and several months of seething fan anger later and it was painfully clear Bethesda’s original plans went tits up.
Understanding the almost scalable wall of disappointment and frustration this has caused PS3 Skyrim users, Bethesda is offering a week long discount of 50% Off for each expansion as they launch on PSN. Once Dragonborn is out of the gate, the company is backtracking by releasing the Hearthfire expansion for those with a penchant for medieval decorating, and then the Dawnguard DLC in all of its vampiric glory.
While Dragonborn's PC date is marked down for February 5th, all three pieces of the PS3's DLC are expected throughout the same month at unspecified dates.
The Last of Us Box Art Revealed Alongside Pre-order Bonuses
This weekend Naughty Dog gifted us a brand new Last of Us trailer to gawk at as well as announcing what we’ve all been waiting for; a May 7th release date (you may have been waiting for just a release date, I was waiting specifically for a May 7th release date).
Today, we now get a good, hard look at the game’s box art (the pretty images above) and are also privy to the bonuses in store for those that pre-order the title. Participating retailers are handing out a voucher for the “Sights & Sounds Pack” which includes:
- The official soundtrack for the game
- A fancy PS3 theme
- Two avatars featuring our protagonists
Not to be outdone by those silly peasant retailers, however, Gamestop is offering both the “Sights & Sounds Pack” and the exclusive “Survival Pack” which leans harder on providing extras for the game’s multiplayer. Your online characters will be decked with:
- Bonus XP
- Special customizable items
- Extra in-game currency
- A melee attack booster
- And, as a bonus, Joel and Ellie receive additional skins (once you beat the game, that is)
Funny enough, I’m more grateful for the soundtrack thrown in than any of the multiplayer frills (truthfully — shame on me and my shit journalism — I wasn’t even aware the game had multiplayer). ‘Course, I might change my tune if the multiplayer turns out to be as amazing as the single-player campaign looks.
Here’s last weeks news, this week because my lack of focus wouldn’t let me finish something I started on Sunday until Monday in the A.M.
Welcome back to the Roundup. It missed you lots.
Square Enix Unveils Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix at TGS
Ten years ago, Square decided to bet on an oddball licensing mash-up of their benchmark Final Fantasy series with…the House of the Mouse, no less. While closeted Disney fanboys grew deadly serious, the rest of us scoffed at the prospect of Kingdom Hearts.
Until we got our hands on the game, that is. A simplistic yet deeply playable approach to marrying action-adventure and RPG elements within a diverse, masterfully designed world (or worlds, rather) laid the groundwork for a new classic. Today, if you find someone quick to dismiss the original KH as “childish,” they’re also probably someone who didn’t play it very long or even at all. Listen, you live in a reality where wielding a keyblade is badass. The sky is blue, politics are boring, and keyblades kick ass. Moving on.
What was once a barely believable rumor is now HD-ified fact: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix has been announced by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3, slated for a 2013 release in Japan. Why 1.5, you ask? Well, it’s not a KH1/KHII double-pack as speculated in the linked rumor, but 1.5 does include the PS2’s Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days from the Game Boy Advance and DS respectively. All are reduxed in high-definition for the PS3, all now feature Trophy support.
A stateside release is more than probably in the cards, but of course nothing past the Japanese release has been confirmed.