After a blowout event over the weekend in Anaheim, California as part of the 2016 PlayStation Experience, the news about Naughty Dog's latest project, The Last of Us: Part II, hasn't been all roses and sunshine, especially regarding the original director.
According to Kotaku, co-director Bruce Strayley, who helped with the original Last of Us, will not be returning for the sequel. In fact, they're reporting that Strayley is on a year-long sabbatical, rejuvenating his creative juices and getting his bearings after putting in a lot of work over the last few years as a director by releasing Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us.
Sony sent Kotaku a statement explaining Strayley's departure from Naughty Dog, as he takes a bit of down time for himself, saying...
They don't say if "jumping back in on his next project" means picking up and working on The Last of Us: Part II or starting a completely separate project, but it sounds like after the year's end he'll be right back in the fold and working around the clock at Naughty Dog.
Something definitely seemed off originally when the sequel to the highly lauded Last of Us was announced during the PlayStation Experience weekend and only Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog was on stage during the Q&A discussion alongside Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, instead of Bruce Strayley.
Previously, during the tours and promotions of The Last of Us Druckmann was usually accompanied by Strayley during the interviews. The two of them co-directed the game together and later took over and finished Uncharted 4 after Amy Hennig departed from Naughty Dog.
If Strayley really does manage to miss out on the development and production of The Last of Us: Part II, it could seriously change the way the game is designed. While Strayley doesn't receive anywhere near as much attention or article-spotlights as Druckmann, the reality is that the duo have been working hand-in-hand together on the last few big Naughty Dog releases, and I do wonder how this will affect the overall product of the company's newest title.
We shouldn't expect to see the sequel in full until a couple of years from now, and so there's always the possibility that later on into the production of the game we'll see Strayley make an appearance in giving Druckmann a hand or two with the direction, but based on his year-long sabbatical, it's likely that he won't have much input on the post-apocalyptic survival title.
The newest entry in the series will focus on the "hate" that Ellie will exhibit toward a group of people who have done something awful to her or someone she loves. The only thing we know for sure is that she's out for revenge, and Joel seems to be the sidekick this time around. One thing is for sure, the directing will now fall solely in the lap of Neil Druckmann as he steers the award winning Last of Us franchise into uncharted territory.