Neil Druckmann, the creative director of both Last of Us entries and co-president of Naughty Dog, appeared on the Script Apart podcast, where he talked about the franchise. In it, he revealed that The Last of Us Part 3 is being written but will not be in development as of now.
“I don’t know how much I want to reveal… [co-writer Halley Gross] and I did write an outline for a story, that we’re not making – but I hope one day can see the light of day – that explores a little bit what happens after this game. We’ll see.”
Internal discussions are going around, but nothing is solidified. The challenges of game development are making him hesitant to pursue a third game in the franchise.
“These games take so much to make. [Part 2], I’ve been thinking about it for seven years, between when the last game came out and when this came out […] You want to make sure you’re jazzed by the idea that you have, [that] it feels like it’s challenging.”
He goes into how when you keep making a sequel; it starts to create a formula. With the 2013 game, he said that there is “no pattern of what a franchise is.” When the sequel was released last year, that means “there’s starting to be a pattern – now I feel like there are some structural and thematic themes you’d have to stick to if you’re making a third game.”
Regardless of what the team at Naughty Dog does, whether that is to continue with this written outline for The Last of Us Part 3 to make it into the next official project or to make something new, it is a huge undertaking. That is why the developer takes its time between releases.
“We take a long time to explore different ideas, whether it’s going to be Last of Us III, whether it’s something new, whether there’s some old franchise we want to go back to. I like to fully explore all of those, then look at, like: okay, we have all of these ideas in front of us. As a studio, what do we want to commit to? Because it’s a huge commitment – monetary, time, passion, talent, so you think about all the opportunity costs that come with that.”
This harkens back to statements made by Druckmann last summer. He was saying how by the end of a development cycle, his brain starts to wonder about what’s next. In that case, he was thinking of a new IP or Part 3.
Naughty Dog has had plenty of success, especially for its apocalyptic franchise. In 2019, it was reported that The Last of Us sold 20 million copies. Meanwhile, its sequel became the fastest-selling first-party PS4 exclusive, with 4 million copies sold within its first three days. On top of the games, an HBO series is in the works with Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) with Druckmann and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) leading the charge.
What do you think of the outline being written for The Last of Us Part 3? Since it is not in development, what would you like to see Naughty Dog do next? Let us know in the comments.