Though open-world games seem to be all the rage lately, The Last of Us Part II won't be taking the same route and for a very good reason. With our first look at Joel (and a release date) thanks to a recent press event, we've been learning a lot about what the highly anticipated Naughty Dog sequel will have to offer. 

In a recent interview, director Neil Druckmann opened up about why they decided to veer away from the open-world path. “It’s not padded, it has that pacing of the first game,” the director mentioned when asked about the game's pacing. “You’re going on this crazy, emotional, harrowing roller coaster ride that has these highs of tension and these slower, more provocative, thoughtful moments… those kinds of events are sprinkled throughout the entire game.”

The ride is the most important part, which was a huge driving factor behind the design structure of the entire universe in-game. “Depending where you are with the story, we might open things up significantly and say, ‘Here are some optional things you can go explore, some side stories, or you can go directly next to where you’re meant to go,'” he added. “But the tension is not high, and as the tension ratchets up, we might tighten things up, you might play a very scripted, authored Naughty Dog setpiece. And we know we can go in both directions according to the need of the story.”

To make the sequel open-world would almost be like forcing it, that - or cause a sacrifice of some of the elements that so many loved from the first game. “Unlike an open-world game that is usually open all the time, that [type of] game doesn’t work for us for The Last of Us because that loses tension. If I need to go rescue someone, and [the game] says ‘OK go rescue them right now…or do these 10 other things on the side,’ you lose tension.”

Though I personally adore open-world games, there are some in the past that have tried to force this feature and it absolutely destroyed the journey. The latest Dynasty Warriors is a perfect example of that! We had an incredibly loved franchise thrown into the trash due to meaningless fetch quests and a confusing landscape. Sometimes open-world works, sometimes it doesn't, and it is very reassuring that the team at Naughty Dog recognized that it just wouldn't work within their creative vision. 

As for the game itself, we'll explore the world of the Last of Us Part II for ourselves when it releases on PlayStation 4 on February 21, 2020.