The first time I saw the remastered version of The Last of Us Part II, my mind was torn between thinking it wasn’t necessary and realizing that it could be played on PlayStation 5. But that changed radically when I played the title itself. I hadn’t properly appreciated the importance of an extra that wasn’t given much focus: the deleted scenes.
There are not too many, but they are fascinating. In The Last of Us Part II Remastered, we can delve into them and enjoy these half-made playable pieces. Sometimes animations, voices, or textures are missing, but they are compensated with something that seems like a gift from heaven to me: the artists’ comments. Whether it’s the creative director, graphic artists, or a designer, the challenges involved in making that particular part of the game are explained, including why it was removed, how it was designed, and where it fit into the title.
In a video game as narratively complex as The Last of Us II, these sections are greatly appreciated because they help you better understand how difficult it is to tell a story like this, broken down like a puzzle. Of all the scenes that the game allows you to access, I find the most interesting to be the one in which Ellie chases a wild boar to kill it.
It’s a short sequence that, if you want to experience for yourself, we recommend enjoying the game to avoid spoilers. We control Ellie, and first, she appears alone in a forest clearing. The ground is covered in blood and we must follow the trail of our dying prey. This leads us to an abandoned gas station, and there we see the animal we are chasing – a wild boar. We shoot him, he attacks us, and runs away. Finally, he prostrates himself in the back room because of the pain caused by our bullet. Ellie takes out her knife and finishes him off. At the very moment she kills him, she remembers Joel.
If we played this playable piece without context, it wouldn’t tell us too much. But as we go from the forest to the gas station to the back room, different Naughty Dog comments are activated. These explain to us that Ellie is not hunting for food, but rather her post-traumatic syndrome pushes her back to violence, to kill, and feel suffering.
Because she continues to suffer unspeakably, and not only for Joel’s death, but also for not having finished what she started. The end of The Last of Us Part II is great, I love it. Ellie knows better than to kill Abby, since she ended up with Joel because he killed her father; she had a compelling reason. And Lev now depends on Abby. That stops her because Abby has ended up becoming someone’s Joel. And she’s not willing to kill Joel.
But not closing this issue consumes her inside and makes her look for similar situations over and over again. In this case, with a wild boar. The true ending of The Last of Us Part II shows Ellie alone in her house playing his guitar, and it seems that he has decided to forgive and move on. However, now that I’ve played this deleted scene, it’s not so clear to me anymore.
How far can Ellie go to get her open wound closed? What will she do when she no longer has any use for killing wild boars? Will she blame Maria for allowing him to leave Jackson in the first place? To Dina, to Tommy? Or will she go further and blame the entire civilization? Being able to ask yourself these questions is what is fascinating about these deleted scenes. It helps us get into the heads of the creatives and understand where things can go with The Last of Us Part III.
Honestly, before facing this boar, I thought that Neil Druckmann would dare to tell a completely new story with different actors, but now I’m not so sure. Now my bet is that yes, the player will control other different protagonists, but that Ellie will be the villain. Facing her, she will only be able to find calm the same way Joel and Abby did: by caring for another person, establishing a link. My bet is that it could be with Tommy and María’s future child or Dina’s.
This way of closing Ellie’s story would be consistent with Neil Druckmann’s personal story. He suffered firsthand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when he was a child. He managed to escape thanks to the link that he had built with his brother, Emanuel. Ellie needs a bond like that, and that’s why, after killing that boar, I think The Last of Us Part III should continue like this. In this way, Ellie will obtain definitive peace, through love.