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Additional details regarding the newly unveiled sequel to The Last of Us were today revealed during a Q&A panel.

Writer and Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann, actor Joel Baker and actress Ashley Johnson all took to the stage at PlayStation Experience to field questions about The Last of Us: Part II, which was officially unveiled earlier today.

Druckmann played his cards close to his chest for most of the panel but did reveal that the sequel was set five years after the events of The Last of Us, with Ellie now 19 years old.

“If the first game was really about the core of it, the theme of the love between these two characters [Joel & Ellie] and how we build that through story, music, interaction, gameplay, mechanics – this story is the counter of that,” said Druckmann.

“This story is about hate and how we use all those same things to make the player feel that.”

Whilst fans played as Joel for the 2013 original, it was announced that the sequel would see fans play as Ellie.

“So much thought went into this [game] and I know there are a lot of people that feel this trepidation about coming back to these characters and revisiting what that ending means and worrying whether that’s going to spoil the first game,” Druckmann added.

“We feel all those things as well. No one loves these characters more than we do and we would not do this if we didn’t feel like we had the right idea. And the Part II is really doubling down on that. We believe in this so much, we’re not trying to avoid it.

“I’ve played around with so many of ideas that had different characters but it never felt right. The Last of Us is about these two characters specifically. So, Part II is saying this is going to be a larger story. This is a complimentary story to the first game but the two together are going to tell this much larger tale.”

Actor Troy Baker, who portrays protagonist Joel, revealed that the first talks of a sequel occurred in London following the BAFTA Awards, where the 2013 title picked up several awards including Game of the Year.

Discussing shooting the trailer, which was shot over a year and a half ago, Baker said: “The first time we walked onto stage and it wasn’t Ashley there anymore, and it wasn’t Troy, it was Joel walking down that hall and finding Ellie.”

“It was overwhelming to be in those shoes again. [These characters] are two real people to us, these are flesh and blood characters that every once and a while they’re kind enough to let us see their world through their eyes. And to see that world again through Joel’s eyes, my heart could barely hold it.”

Druckmann later met with Ashley Johnson, who stars as Ellie, at a restaurant to discuss both the Left Behind DLC and a sequel. Upon hearing the details, Johnson broke down into tears.

“There is such an attachment to these characters and this story, it was like a cocktail of emotions. I cried… it’s just so great to be back,” said Johnson.

It was also confirmed that Gustavo Santaolalla, the composer of The Last of Us, would return for the sequel with new themes and a new rendition of the apocalyptic thriller’s original theme.

Druckmann also said a gameplay video would be released “down the road” but wouldn’t share any release date or window.

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