If you’re not venturing on social media, you may not know that a good part of the plot of The Last of Us Part 2 leaked two months before the game’s release.
Spoilers follow the video below:
If you go to social media, you will know. You’ll know because a Twitter account with a Joker avatar tweeted photos of Joel bleeding on the ground, along with some jokes about golf.
While it happens within the first few hours, Joel’s death is what starts Ellie’s revenge mission, setting up the rest of the game. It is a big and shocking moment, one that would have been better to experience for yourself.
It also started what now turned into months of toxicity in the debate surrounding the game. Some people saw the leaks, decided they didn’t like the story, and decided. Even now, if we post an article about the game, someone will inevitably post something about Joel’s death.
So how did these leaks affect Naughty Dog? Creative director Neil Druckmann explained in the latest Kinda Funny spoilercast below. We have extracted the relevant quotes if you would rather read than watch the video:
“What was really difficult was when the leaks happened and you see that scene came out,” Druckmann said, referring to Joel’s death at the hands of Abby. “The love that people feel for this character, and that’s all they have is that, and [the fact you] then play as the person who killed them. And they lose their shit. Understandably. Then we just have to sit there for two months and say, ‘There’s more, but we can’t say anything right now.’ They just live with that frustration and anger. That was difficult. That was really fucking difficult.
“It was one of the worst days of my life when the leak occurred. I saw it happen in real time. I saw it when it hit YouTube. We are all panicking, asking them to download it. Then there is a delay, so it takes about an hour to take it apart. I had maybe a thousand views when everything was shot down. Then you sit there and your heart sinks, and you think, ‘It’s out there, it’s only a certain amount of time until it explodes.’ A few hours later it’s everywhere and you’re starting to hate yourself on every social media you’re on, and soon that turns into death threats, anti-Semitic comments, and insanity that I could never have anticipated. He knew that people would get mad at a character who loves to die. Did I never think I would achieve this kind of hatred? I don’t know how to even describe it. Frustration?”
Druckmann says the studio knew there would be some fans who would be mad at the way they kill Joel. They knew it would be polarizing. But they were not prepared for what happened.
“What was difficult to see is that people dug their heels in the sand and took this position like ‘I already hate this game, no amount of context is going to change me,'” Druckmann explained.
On one level, he showed the studio that the scene works. Naughty Dog wanted players to feel how Ellie felt right now: angry, hateful, disgusted. If Internet comments about the leaks were a yardstick for hitting those emotions, it was successful.
“At some point, it took a few days, you realize the worst happened,” Druckmann continued. “The worst way this game could be presented happened: our worst fear.” Because we did a lot to try to protect this story. ”
We replied when it happened that you shouldn’t judge The Last of Us Part 2 by leaks. You can read our review of The Last of Us Part 2 to see if that was good advice.