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Sony's first-party studio, Naughty Dog, is currently hard at work on the upcoming sequel to the 2013 award-winning title, The Last of Us. However, things are also moving and shaking behind the scenes, with a major shakeup having taken place. The Last of Us Part II's game director has a new job.
Over on the official Naughty Dog blog, it was announced that creative director Neil Druckmann is now the vice president of Naughty Dog. He's been upgraded to the position at the critically praised and financially successful studio while also simultaneously working on the upcoming The Last of Us Part II as both a writer and director.
However, due to Druckmann's promotion, that means that there will be additional help required on The Last of Us Part II. The heads at Naughty Dog decided to have Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau work as joint game directors to help with the directorial duties for the game. The post notes that both Margenau and Newman have also helped with the lead design department with Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2, so they both have experience in leadership roles already. The rest of the team leads will be rounded out with Emilia Schatz and Richard Cambier as the lead designers on the upcoming, drama-based third-person title.
According to IGN, however, Neil Druckmann will not be forfeiting his duties as creative director on The Last of Us Part II. I do wonder if he's going to at least scale back on how much time he invests in directing the game?
IGN notes that Druckmann talked a lot about the potential future of Naughty Dog during this past year's DICE event, where he spoke with Dan Trachtenberg about narrative design in fictional media. Trachtenberg, the director of 10 Cloverfield Lane, is no stranger to video games. Trachtenberg directed the short film Portal: No Escape, based on Valve's Portal puzzle-first-person series. Druckmann talked about some of the content that was cut from Uncharted 4 during the talk, as well as the possibility of Naughty Dog tackling something outside of the company's affinity for third-person action-adventure games.
For now, the studio is focused on getting The Last of Us Part II finished. The game will pick up years after the completion of the first game and it will feature the return of both Ellie and Joel, but perhaps not in the roles you expect.
Druckmann had mentioned in the past that the sequel will focus on "hate" as a theme as opposed to "love". This was exhibited in a cinematic trailer where we saw some gruesome and grizzly displays of violence, with some of the characters encountering some bone-breaking villains. Even still, the heroes of the trailer survived long enough just to encounter the botanical zombies coming for them through the forest.
The trailer was highly controversial for some, but it most certainly set the tone for what we can expect when the game finally launches for the PlayStation 4.
Beyond The Last of Us Part II, it will be interesting to see how Druckmann handles his new role and what that role will play for the future direction of Naughty Dog as a studio.