Violence Without Context

On Monday at Paris Games Week, Naughty Dog debuted a new The Last of Us: Part II trailer. It offered stark brutality and little context and the internet had many feelings about it.

Make no mistake, the trailer is harder than we have seen from Naughty Dog before. As someone who has seen hundreds of horror movies, I braced myself for the worst, but didn’t find it to be as upsetting as advertised. What I did find odd was how out of context the entire thing was. The trailer, which comes in at just under five minutes, gives no indication of anything surrounding what you see. No characters are introduced. No information is given on how this one scene figures into the story at large.

That is where I felt strangely about it.

It may sound desensitized, but most violence in games or horror movies doesn’t phase me. I consider myself a pacifist in reality, so it’s an odd contrast. The only thing that does seem to affect me is having to kill animals in certain games; I am never a fan. I adore the Far Cry series, but I wish there were other ways to level up gear. I understand they are digital animals, but I am still uncomfortable by it. If my dog is anywhere near me when I’m involved in a game where that is necessary, I will actually cover his eyes when I have to “collect” the necessary items from said creature.

I don’t want him to have to see that.

I wasn’t a huge fan of The Last of Us. The production value was high, and the voice work and art direction were top notch, but my enjoyment ended there. I know I’m in the minority on this subject and that’s okay. I’ve actually never been a terribly big Naughty Dog fan, but I do still try to play their games in hopes that I enjoy one somewhere along the line.

I am keeping an open mind about The Last of Us: Part II. When I saw the trailer, I honestly didn’t know what to think. I was more confused than anything. Who are these people? How do they figure in with Joel and Ellie? Will we be spending any significant amount of the game with these nameless characters? Is this the level of brutality we should expect from the game at large, or was this one scene meant to be there for shock value? What was the intention behind showing this “trailer?”

That’s another thing: I struggle to think of what was shown as a trailer. To me, we saw a chunk of a cutscene. I’m fine with that, but calling it a trailer seemed odd. Perhaps a preview? Honestly, it’s just semantics at that point. I suppose what I’m saying is: what kind of message was Naughty Dog hoping to send with this slice? Are we supposed to feel the stakes are higher in this game? That anything can happen? I already have theories about the initial reveal trailer (I think Joel is dead and Ellie is talking to him in the abstract; she never once looks at him), but that’s all speculation on my part.

I keep coming back to the violence in the trailer from Paris Games Week. I suppose it didn’t affect me as much since I had no context for what was happening. I didn’t feel at all invested in these characters we had just met. Do I wish they weren’t being brutalized? Of course I wish they weren’t being brutalized. But I also have no idea of the surrounding circumstances. Then again, it’s almost more unnerving when we have no idea why any of this is happening.

It’s hard to have an opinion when you don’t have all the pieces to a puzzle.

How do you feel about The Last of Us: Part II trailer from Paris Games Week? Are you interested in the game? Did the trailer sway your feelings one way or another? I’m genuinely curious to hear what people are thinking about what they saw.

6 replies »

  1. I came away from the trailer more confused than anything. I had the same question of who are these people and how does it relate to Joel and Elle. Honestly the teaser did a better job piquing my interest in the game than the full trailer.

    If I had to be honest (spoilers) this reminded more of the scene where Glen died in the walking dead than anything I saw in the original. If it had more context it would have been better. Somehow it needed longer than 5 min.

    One interesting theory is the woman being hung is Elle’s mother. If that is true than I would be ok with it, for now it feels incomplete and without meaning

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also felt the initial reveal teaser did a better job in just about every way.

      I do feel like any context would have been useful. Instead it was sort of an exhibit of how realistic violence can look in a game.

      I did hear that theory, and if true, I’d be interested to find out why they showed what they did.


  2. I am a huge fan of Naughty Dog and The Last of Us, but I was not impressed with that trailer. It seemed to be brutal violence for the sake of violence, which I don’t like at all. In other words, it was violence without context. One of the reasons I liked The Last of Us was the relationship between the characters, and how their friendship grew as they survived together. The violence was the backdrop to that, not the primary show. Hopefully Naughty Dog will remember what made The Last of Us special, and not just make a brutal spectacle. Frankly, there is more than enough of that already.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m right there with you on the trailer. I’m not a fan of violence in general, and without context it’s even worse.

      I think you nailed it by saying the violence was the backdrop, not the focus. This was all backwards.

      And yes, there really and truly is enough of that already.


  3. I hadn’t seen any of the trailers until now and looking at what’s shown leads me to think that the major focus of The Last of Us Part II will be with Joel and Ellie fighting against the Fireflies. I won’t spoil anything from the first game just in case someone hasn’t played it, but from what transpires in the original game and from what I saw in the two trailers leads me to believe that’s where the narrative is heading. This is purely speculation on my part, but it’s a theory.

    I liked The Last of Us and Naughty Dog games in general but nothing about the trailers really grabbed me. I’ll play it when it comes out, but I still have that feeling like another entry seems unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would also guess they are warring with the remaining Fireflies.

      That’s another good point: was a second game necessary? They made a point of saying they didn’t think it needed one, yet here we are. I hope for the people who loved the first game that this one turns out as well.


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