The Last of Us Part II director Neil Druckmann has commented on its story’s backlash once again, and this time, he spelled it out plainly: “I don’t care.” The creator’s thoughts arrived as part of an interview with GQ, where he and The Last of Us HBO series co-creator Craig Mazin touched on their plans for the show’s next season. Spoilers for Part II are in this article.
The Last of Us Part II, which launched three years ago this June, was subject to mass criticism from some fans upon its release. Many took issue with the early-game death of original protagonist Joel Miller, as well as developer Naughty Dog’s choice to switch from Ellie to a different playable character, Joel’s killer Abby, halfway through the narrative. Any way you cut it, these were bold story decisions, especially for one of PlayStation’s heavyweight exclusive titles.
However, Druckmann explained that he isn’t in control of how players will react, and with the HBO show set to adapt the events of The Last of Us Part II, he won’t be creating the story with their feelings in mind: “I guess, to go back to the earlier [Todd Phillips] quote from Craig, which is like… I don’t care. How they react is how they react, that is completely outside of our control. So how do we make the best TV show version of that story? That’s the problem that we wrestle with every day.”
Mazin then added: “To the extent that the storylines move people to rage, confusion, or disappointment or anger. Well that, I suppose, is preferable to the worst possible outcome, which is indifference.”
Along those lines, he explained that, while many viewers fell in love with The Last of Us episode 3, “Long Long Time,” many others took to movie-centered websites like IMDb to leave extremely negative reviews:
It’s one of the lower-rated shows on IMDb for one reason – a lot of people came on and gave it a 1/10. Not 5/10. One. The median score on that episode is 10. And the mean is an 8 or something. And that’s because there are incredibly strong opinions one way or the other. But I would much rather have a show that lives off of 10s and 1s, than a show that lives off of 5s.
Druckmann and Mazin seem to share similar opinions on backlash in general. It’s important considering The Last of Us on HBO plans to adapt the story of Part II over the course of at least two seasons. So, while the live-action version of that story will no doubt come with some changes – just as season 1 altered some moments from the original The Last of Us – it might be best to expect much of the story to remain intact. Whether fans love or hate those decisions will have to wait until The Last of Us season 2 eventually premieres.