The Last of Us is lauded as one of the greatest games of all time. It’s inarguably deserving of the honor. Above all else, people connected with the story and its brilliantly written and portrayed characters. Such brilliance wasn’t just exclusive to the leads, Joel and Ellie, though. There were also a bevy of side characters who easily made the grisly journey all the more enthralling. Additionally, The Last of Us received applause for the manner in which it portrayed its enemy NPCs. These folks sat comfortably in a morally gray area, and it showed in their actions and the conversations players could pick up on from time to time.
However, there was one small problem, a problem that seemed relatively easy solve. Where were the women bandits and criminals? Holding down a makeshift home, taking care of children? Apart from characters connected to Joel and Ellie, Tess and Marlene, there was no evidence that women were involved in the everyday apocalyptic troubles that were plaguing everyone else. In what appears to be an effort to address this conundrum head on, Naughty Dog released the following trailer at PlayStation’s Paris Games Week conference:
In true TLoU fashion, the trailer opens completely devoid of any signs that it is indeed TLoU. Not until the final few seconds, when the familiar logo appears, does the reveal come to pass. Most jarring, minus the absence of Joel or Ellie, is the focus on women. We see a man and a woman dragging another woman through the dirt, before hanging her by a noose, and settling her feet on a bucket. The lady, Emily, acting opposite the male is evidently in charge.
Seconds later, two men bring an Asian woman, Yara, into the scene, dragging her along in a similar fashion. Emily addresses her next, and is quickly met with disrespect upon inquiring about “the other apostate.” On the boss lady’s order, Yara is abruptly thrown to the ground and beaten with a hammer. Soon thereafter, a young Asian man, Lev, comes to her rescue, giving the hanging woman, an opportunity to launch an attack on the boss.
This is of note because, again, apart from those directly connected to the overarching narrative, women weren’t seen in such a light during the events of the first title. What this five minute clip indicates is that not only are there women in TLoU’s apocalyptic world behaving immorally, they’re also just as cruel and villainous as their male counterparts. Of course, Emily may be an outlier–perhaps she’s the big bad of Part II. But the pain she inflicts is directed towards two women, two women who are tortured in a manner rivaling some of Joel’s fiercest behavior, indicating the world cares not for gender. Women are just as capable of being on the receiving end of grotesque violence as men.
Here’s to hoping Emily and her victims aren’t an outlier. Here’s to hoping enemy NPCs are female. Here’s to hoping The Last of Us, yet again, advances the industry.
Following the release of the trailer, Naughty Dog posted a few more details about the cast to their Twitter page. Victoria Grace is playing Yara; Ian Alexander is bringing Lev to life; Emily Swallow is Emily; and voice acting veteran Lara Bailey is the mysterious hanging woman.
What other nuances do you hope the highly anticipated sequel explores? Share your thoughts in the comments below.