The first Last Of Us told a story of a man and a young girl traveling through this desolate, post-apocalyptic America, contextualizing its unending scenes of shattered skulls and leering torture with a more tender story of companionship at any cost. Without that context, the argument goes, the trailer for The Last of Us Part II just fetishizes violence needlessly, appending a scene of stomach-churning brutality to the end of a press conference that also contained family-friendly Spider-Man and Star Wars and tennis titles.
This criticism is wrong-footed for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it is a single scene from a video game that isn’t out yet, and so surmising what is or isn’t “representative” is literally impossible. Its first trailer showed the first game’s protagonists idly playing guitar in a verdant, overgrown ruin, illustrating that the series’ capacity for tenderness remained intact; the latest trailer depicted a hellish display of cruelty between cult-like survivors, showing that the series’ capacity for bleak encounters at the end of the world also remained intact. If you were a fan of the first game’s startling and literary vision of life in an environmentally ravaged future, well, that’s two boxes checked.