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The World Of The Last Of Us: Will It Be A Sandbox Or Linear Affair?


I'm excited about The Last Of Us. I watched the first trailer dozens of times and wrote quite a few things about it. Now, as we get closer to E3 it would seem more and more information is starting to sprout out and release like fungus spores. But we still don't have a clue on just how the game is going to play out. This is where the speculation begins.


While Naughty Dog is known for their linear, cinematic level design, that sort of gameplay just might not work out well in a large abandoned city filled with monsters, both the human and mutant variety. So what would be best for The Last Of Us? Open world, linear... Or both? Read on to figure out just what I'm talking about.




The Well Known Linear Path


Look back as far as you want into Naughty Dog's history in gaming. Pretty much every game they've made since Crash Bandicoot has been linear, with Jak And Daxter being an exception to the rule but I'll get back to them later. Right now we're talking about linearity! Just look at how the Uncharted series works. The whole series is pretty much a straight path from one game to the next.


But that isn't a bad thing when it comes to a game as cinematic as Uncharted. Certain areas and events simply wouldn't work if you were able to go around the preplanned event and trigger it from behind or just skip it all together. Imagine how boring the boat level in Uncharted 3 would have been if you were able to stop the whole sinking of the ship by avoiding the room where it happened.




This is right around the time when Joel decides to give Ellie up so he can escape.


Even though Uncharted is a very linear series without much room for big open spaces, that doesn't mean Naughty Dog has never tried to open the games up a bit more. The best cases can be found no further than the beginning of Uncharted 3. While the bar wasn't an extremely large area, it did show promise for the future seeing as you could travel through the whole bar and activate different cinematic sequences.


While the bar was small scale, there was also the young Drake area. While still severely limited thanks to guards being posted at random spots looking for Drake, it still showed off a huge area filled with events that could be triggered by getting close enough while also allowing the player to backtrack through the whole level. But still, way too limited for a game like The Last Of Us.




The Big Open World


Everybody loves a good open-world game. Lots of areas to explore, plenty of things to see and so much to do! Uh oh, I can already see a problem here. While it would be cool to have a huge explorable world at your fingertips in The Last Of Us, I just don't think it would work. Think back to games like Mafia 2. It had a cool story with plenty going on, but outside of the story the world was practically empty.


Now remove the word "practically" and that is what you would get with The Last Of Us. The world is quite literally dead. You would be walking around a city with little to no people with nowhere to go. Sure you could explore houses, but then what? The game would boil down to fighting people and mutants while hiding out in houses.




Today's pillaging went really well today. Don't you agree?


But the negatives don't stop there. Naughty Dog has never made a fully fledged open-world game.They've made games with large levels, but never a full world filled with a bunch of stuff for you to find. This isn't me knocking Naughty Dog, they're great developers and all, they've just never gotten into the open world business.


And like I mentioned earlier, they would be running the risk of making players miss important story elements or emotional scenes put in to help flesh out the characters thanks to people running around aimlessly looking for the next story chapter. I could be wrong on this, but a fully realized open-world just wouldn't be right for The Last Of Us. So where does that leave us?




Combine Them!


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Naughty Dog never adds something to a game just for that one series. Every single game they've ever worked on has been practice for their next game. From Crash Bandicoot all the way up to Uncharted 3, all of their games have shared some elements. This will be true for The Last Of Us as well.




"I was just tryin' to help!" yelled the man as Joel apparently punched half his face off.


I mentioned Jak And Daxter earlier. Now obviously The Last Of Us isn't going to play anything like the Jak And Daxter series, but there is something they can take from it. The large levels with multiple paths. Instead of creating a single full open world, Naughty Dog would be better off splitting each area into different large scale levels with different sprawling objectives in each one.


Naughty Dog would be able to have each level hold different elements of the story while also allowing the player to go off the grid and find other secret events that add to the overall story without adding in important elements that would ruin the game if the player missed them. The best example of this would be Metal Gear Solid 4 with it's strict level design, but secrets packed to the gills in far off corners of different levels.




While Naughty Dog could really go any way they wanted with The Last Of Us and come out with a stellar game, I feel this would be their best bet. A gigantic map would be nice, but it just wouldn't work with Naughty dog's cinematic flair. Large yet separate levels would be able to give players the exploration they wanted while also keeping the story on a steady pace. Either way, I can't wait.



What are you hoping The Last Of Us turns out to be? Open world, linear, or something else entirely? Perhaps we'll even find out soon seeing as talk of a demo being shown off is floating around. Why not leave your comments below? As always, thanks for reading.

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