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'The Last of Us Part 2': What Happens to Joel If Ellie Is the Only Playable Character?

Teaser image for 'The Last of Us Part 2' featuring Ellie and Dina. Image credit: Naughty Dog

Developer Naughty Dog recently said Ellie is going to be the only playable character in "The Last of Us Part 2." If that is the case, what will happen to Joel?

In the game's first installment, released in 2013, the game featured two main protagonists Joel and Ellie. However, the gameplay solely focused on controlling Joel, who, in the plot, had the task to bring Ellie cross the post-apocalyptic United States.

When “The Last of Us Part 2” was first announced at the PlayStation Experience 2016, the reveal trailer obviously hinted that the sequel’s plot will be focusing on Ellie’s arc. In fact, Joel only shows up in the latter part of the video. And in the latest trailer presented at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018 earlier this week, Joel is a complete no-show.

The latest gameplay sneak peek makes it clearer that players will mainly control Ellie in “The Last of Us Part 2.” But Joel is likely still alive since Ellie’s friend, Jesse, complained about Joel being very strict on his patrol duties telling Ellie, “Your old man really laid into me today.”

While Naughty Dog is understandably wanting to conceal a lot of gameplay and plot details at this point, reports are already speculating on Joel’s arc. One of the possibilities that Polygon suggested in a report is that Joel could have died as the story transitions from the first game and to the sequel.

The E3 2018 trailer starts with a laid-back scene, then cuts to Ellie’s combat sequence, and back to a happy memory in Wyoming with her love interest, Dina. So, it is likely that a very dark memory of Joel’s loss is what will turn Ellie into this killing machine. And Joel’s appearance for the most part of “The Last of Us Part 2” could only be through flashback scenes.

The possible death of Joel might also explain a scene in the PSX 2016 trailer where Joel walks in on an absurdly calm Ellie after killing several people. Developers presented how Ellie is filled with vengeance. Joel asks Ellie, "What are you doing, kiddo?" To which Ellie replies while looking up to Joel (or just her memory of the old man?), "I'm gonna find and I'm gonna kill every last one of them." That line sounds very much like a promise of avenging someone's death.

Then, there is also a chance that Naughty Dog is cooking up a very dark plot twist that makes Joel the villain in “The Last of Us Part 2.” Ellie’s anger could be fueled by a story where she learns Joel did something really bad in the past. After all, a rage motivated by betrayal always makes up for a good storyline.

Meanwhile, Naughty Dog held an exclusive event at E3 on Thursday to answer the media’s questions about the game. There, creative director Neil Druckmann declared that Ellie “is the only playable character,” according to IGN.

However, many are doubtful that this will be the actual case once the game is released. Naughty Dog has repeatedly reminded fans that the game is still in the early stages of development. And announcing a very important aspect of the gameplay at this point, to some, is quite suspicious.

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