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Early trailers, comments from director Neil Druckmann and an extensive preview last fall confirmed that The Last of Us Part II would be bigger, more violent and more grueling than what came before. Naughty Dog has proven itself to a developer that deserves the benefit of the doubt, and I had few concerns that The Last of Us Part II would succeed on a technical level. As expected, it looks fantastic, showing just how far we’ve come from the PS3 original. Gameplay has been smoothed out and improved upon in many ways, as well. But what I really care about is Ellie and Joel. The Last of Us ended with ambiguity, but nonetheless provided a stunning conclusion to a nuanced and layered story. Druckmann said that developer Naughty Dog didn’t take the decision to continue that story lightly — but after seven years of waiting, the next chapter in Ellie and Joel’s story really needed to deliver.