Ever since the release of The Last of Us Part II a lot of people have been saying that Naughty Dog did a terrible job with the characters. Especially Joel and Ellie. That their choices and personality in this game doesn't resemble at all how they were in the first game. That this might as well have been a new IP, and not a sequel to The Last of Us. All the controversy around this made me go back to the first game to see if Naughty Dog really did f**k up the character progression for Joel and Ellie.
After replaying The Last of Us Part I again, I couldn't understand how people could think something like this. So I started reading posts and watching videos about it, and what up again and again and again was that Joel was the hero of the first game. The complaints of Joel's character, that he was too naive and trusting of strangers in Part II, could all be boiled down to that he was the hero and did not deserve to die for what he did. Because he didn't do anything bad. Which really clashes with my understanding of the game and basically Joel's arc as a whole. That seems to be the issue people are having with Joel. They didn't see the first game's story to be about a man that slowly over the course of the game builds a relationship with a young girl, and progressively does worse and worse things to keep himself from losing her. For them it was about Joel and Ellie building a bond, and then Joel saved Ellie at the end.
As for Ellie, what my research made evident is that the issues surrounding her seem to be more tied up to the theme of the game. Lots of people cite moments in the game where Ellie does something they don't like as plot holes, or that her character is stupidly written and would never do something like this. The prime example being
spoiler subject With all the anger surrounding the game many people seem to have missed the point of the game; that forgiveness is the only way to end the cycle of violence. Something that Abby embodies, but Ellie is missing, and realizes for herself at the end of the game. That is good writing! Ellie is severely flawed as a person in part II, due to
spoiler subject And it's being mistaken as bad characters or just plot holes.
And lastly is the issue of what some gamers would have preferred to what The Last of Us Part II ended up being. I've heard people throwing around the idea that if Naughty Dog didn't kill Joel, and the game consisted of a lot more of Ellie and Joel together, it would have been a much better game. To which I had to say "What?". Wishing for that implies that Ellie's arc flew right over your head. Throughout the first game Ellie clings onto parental figures, and the ending signifies her independence. When she realizes she can no longer blindly put her trust in Joel, or anyone for that matter. Having a game that just brushes this aside would not be a sequel to The Last of Us, but a totally different game.
A Thorough Look at The Last of Us This video-documentary really opened my eyes and cleared up some misconceptions I had about the game, while explaining very well what the game was really about. Most of what I've said here is just stuff I've taken from this video. It was a great watch and really well made! I would recommend anyone who's struggling with properly understanding the characters to watch this. It also covers several of the systems and mechanics in the game, but the creator has posted timestamps so you can skip to the parts you're interested in. It's a little long, but definitely worth the watch!
I'd love to know what you guys think about the characters in The Last of Us Part II.
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