The Last of Us 2 is a console-defining game for the PlayStation 4, pushing Sony’s last-gen platform to its absolute limit. It is often praised, and equally maligned, for its divisive yet rich narrative. However, the approach to telling the game’s story was almost entirely different. We almost, almost, had a Bloodborne-influenced version of the game.
When we think about one of the best PS5 games around, thanks to the recent remaster, FromSoftware’s challenging RPG doesn’t come to mind. However, according to co-game director Anthony Newman, during the “first four or five months [of development], the game was kind of an open world inspired by Bloodborne.” While you wouldn’t be fighting the infected or rival factions in the style of one of the best Soulslike games ever made, players would be getting their hands dirty without any guns in this version of The Last of Us 2.
Instead, combat encounters would be “purely melee” orientated and rely on players mastering an “all hand-to-hand combat” gameplay loop. Adding onto this, lead game designer Emilia Schatz explains that The Last of Us 2’s original concept “wasn’t just [about] the melee combat. We were also looking at layout structure.” Specifically, in terms of Bloodborne, Schatz expresses that the FromSoftware game has “open space that kept getting bigger and bigger as you explored.”
Schatz adds “I really like that feeling that you get of mastery over the world […] so that was also something we were looking at.” However, despite Naughty Dog’s best intentions, looking toward Bloodborne for inspiration didn’t give The Last of Us 2 the energy it needed. As we know, the final game isn’t reflective of this early idea, as Schatz says “the open world thing didn’t work with the story we were trying to tell.”
We wonder what this game could have looked like, and the new remaster helps paint that picture. No Return is a roguelike mode exclusive to the PS5 iteration of the game and culminates in boss battles after battling your way through increasingly difficult levels. It isn’t quite the same as Bloodborne, but it’s as close as you can get. Or, maybe we’ll see this idea revisited in other new PS5 games, like a potential The Last of Us 2 sequel.
Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann confirms that an idea for a third game in the franchise exists, saying “I don’t have a story, but I do have that concept […] it does feel like there’s probably one more chapter to this story.” With The Last of Us multiplayer spin-off canceled, and leaks allegedly detailing what a third entry could be, there might just be another addition to the best games on PS5 yet.
Until then, Naughty Dog still needs to make a proper mark on current-gen consoles outside of remasters.