Both of its parts were met with critical acclaim, and while the latter did have an unexpected yet oddly admirable story, there are a ton of questions left unanswered that only The Last of Us Part 3 can address.
Innumerable leaks about the threequel’s characters, setting, and story have surfaced, though they are as credible as a leak can get for a game that’s at least three to four years away.
This article isn’t primarily aimed at dissecting these dozens of leaks.
It’s actually 5 things The Last of Us Part 3 needs that the fans want — or I want — however, I’ll be sure to sprinkle them in where it counts. Oh, and beware, there are major spoilers ahead for the franchise.
1. A Satisfying Redemption Arc For Ellie
Visuals, gameplay, and characterization in the series have set the bar high for other studios, though it’s still the narrative everyone looks forward to the most. Ellie’s character development in The Last of Us Part 2 was well-tailored.
She had trouble fitting into society, Joel’s death caused her to go on a killing spree for revenge, and in the end, she just let Abby go.
Things didn’t pan out the way we wanted, but they made sense. Yet the fact remains that Ellie’s journey isn’t over.
Ellie’s body holds the cure for the zombie outbreak, and Part 2 mainly focused on the impact of Joel’s death. As it is now, there isn’t a major plotline that can be addressed in The Last of Us Part 3, except for Ellie trying to synthesize a cure from her blood, even if that means she has to sacrifice herself.
Additionally, a leak for The Last of Us Part 3 by tipster DanielRPK stated that it will introduce five new characters; Lucas, Val, Ezra, Mason, and Gracie.
Details mentioned the group will be seen “surviving on the outskirts of a post-apocalyptic city”. While Ellie’s role wasn’t specified, another reputed leaker ViewerAnon claimed that she will play as big of a part as she always has.
How these new characters are connected, or whether they are even playable, we don’t know, however, if the leaks are true, you can bet that they’ll eventually cross paths with Ellie.
Maybe that somehow kick-starts a redemption arc in the next game for Ellie which she so desperately needs, especially after the way things ended with Abby.
ViewerAnon also mentioned major filming for the third installment will be taking place in 2023. Filming for video games usually takes place when a chunk of the development process is already done, and considering how far back the rumors for The Last of Us Part 3’s release date go, it sounds like the right time.
The cure plot thread will eventually be explored, if not in the third part, then maybe in a future installment. As for the prospect of Ellie dying, that’s too predictable, and the unpredictability of the plot is the franchise’s most versatile weapon, so don’t count on the writers killing her off just like that.
Hopefully whatever happens to Ellie does justice to one of the best video game characters we’ve seen in a long time.
2. Bigger, Badder New Zombies
The story so far has been about the darker nature of humans unearthed in the aftermath of a horrific apocalypse — much akin to Death Stranding‘s chronicle in a way. The first game introduced us to the world. How it was changing, and how people started turning against each other for survival.
The second part exponentially built upon that theme. Ellie, Abby, Joel, it was a cycle of death that had begun to spiral out of control, but unexpectedly it was brought to a halt when Ellie let Abby go.
While the zombies are the imminent threat, they just aren’t as intriguing as the characters. That’s okay and hopefully The Last of Us Part 3 has more of that, but introducing a new type of sentient zombie would perhaps be a nice little addition.
Specifically, a sentient zombie-man, who looks like Alex Mercer from Prototype or Ruvik from The Evil Within, and serves as a minor antagonist.
Neil Druckmann, franchise writer, creative director, and co-creator along with Halley Gross, said in 2021 that they had already written an outline for a third game. He wasn’t sure when or if it would see the light of day, but the plethora of recent leaks say otherwise.
In any case, let’s hope that whenever it’s released, brutal and terrifying new sub-genres of zombies come included. Not only would that be a pleasant change of pace, but it would open up many possibilities for encounters. And that leads me to my next point: better boss fights.
3. Better Boss Fights
Another thing I found The Last of Us 2 lacking in was boss fights. Though there were a few, and many of them great, especially the ones against Scar, Abby, and Ellie, the boss fights against the Infected weren’t as memorable.
It’s that point again. The characters in the franchise are phenomenal, and their interactions are too, but adding another layer to the Infected would serve in favor of the experience. And maybe making the Clicker fights harder while the studio’s at it.
4. Maybe An Open-world
There’s no question a linear design would better suit a game like The Last of Us Part 3. Emotional narratives always feel more compelling in such an environment.
That said, creating a semi-linear world, or a layout which allows post-story interactions with characters as in the recent God of War games would be nice to have.
The Last of Us Part 3 doesn’t necessarily have to be an open-world game, a couple of large sandbox levels brimming with side quests will do the trick.
Not that Part 2 didn’t have sandbox levels. They were there, but they weren’t as bewildering to explore as the areas which directly progressed the main story.
If Naughty Dog can make some aspect of The Last of Us Part 3 open-world which allows for canonical NPC reactions, even better. And to be honest, if anyone can make that happen, it’s Naughty Dog.
You should also know that when Neil Druckmann was asked about The Last of Us Part 3 and whether it was in development, he brushed off the rumors by saying “…we’re already into our next project, and the decision has already been made”.
While that doesn’t change anything, other rumors going around say that Naughty Dog is working on a new IP. Maybe it’ll be an open-world space trek like Starfield, or perhaps TLOU3, time will tell.
5. Clearing Up Abby And Ellie’s Relationship
Abby is right up there with the most controversial video game characters ever penned. Her actions in the second installment have divided the fan base to an irreparable level, though I’d personally call that good writing since I can’t think of another time where something similar took place.
Painting the floor by bashing Joel’s skull in was another thing, but having to play as her for hours afterwards, and then as Ellie for dozens more just to see her let Abby live in the end is what further fanned the flames for review bombings.
Now with Abby alive and kicking, it’s inevitable she’ll return in The Last of Us Past 3.
Where most people are concerned is that revenge stories that end with forgiveness tend to follow a cliche. Most of the time the opposing characters find common ground and then end up becoming brothers in arms.
If that were to happen between Ellie and Abby, it would leave fans more pissed than they currently are.
Maybe Abby does help Ellie, but Ellie still holds a grudge. Shortly after, they get ambushed, Abby dies, yadda yadda yadda. Abby and Ellie becoming friends would refute the whole point of Part 2, so anything but that would work.
The Last of Us is the biggest PlayStation exclusive alongside God of War. It’s incomprehensible that PlayStation would pass on the opportunity to continue the franchise, so I’m all in betting Part 3 will arrive in the latter half of the PS5’s cycle.
Naughty Dog’s next release is the Factions multiplayer game set in the same universe and it was previously scheduled to come out in 2023.
Factions should be out soon enough, and the studio will likely announce its next narrative project a year or two later, possibly in 2026.
And that’s when you should look forward to whether the project in question is The Last of Us Part 3 or a brand-new IP.