The "is he, or isn't he" surrounding the first The Last of Us' concerning Joel is giving fans whiplash. With avid rumors about his survival, his purpose, and even his relevance to the highly anticipated sequel, Joel is on pretty much everybody's mind. Though Neil Druckmann, the game's head, did recently confirm that a much more matured Ellie will have a companion, he won't say whether or not Joel is a part of that.
In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Druckmann was very careful when how he answered a question regarding potential companions for our esteemed badass. When asked if she would be accompanied this time since she herself is now the protagonist, he replied “Well, so, Ellie used to be an NPC, but she’s the protagonist in this story, so the player is controlling Ellie. Umm, it’s safe to say with the game that we made in the past that there will be some NPC with you in this story, even though we’re not showing [the NPC] in this demo.”
Though he's not necessarily imperative to the story, I know I'm not alone when I say I'd love to see his return. He was so paramount to her survival in the last game and a character that players couldn't help but to feel for. With such a powerful history, to see the two and their paternal dynamic would be an incredible layer of immersion brought back to the story. Not that we're worried, mind you. That E3 gameplay reveal was nothing short of stunning!
Just earlier last month another member of the creative team mentioned that there would be other playable characters as well, maybe we'll see Joel then? “At this point we’re just ready to show Ellie as a playable character,” designer Emilia Schatz recently said. “That may change in the future, but we’re not really ready to talk about that just yet. I think there is quite a lot about this game that has not yet been revealed.”
The Last of Us Part 2 is predicted to launch 2018 for PlayStation 4 players, though an exact release window has yet to be set. Luckily, it looks like everything is right on track and we should be getting a more narrowed time frame sometime soon!