We now know that there will be a Last Of Us 2, which will feature Ellie as the main protagonist if the initial reports are to be believed, and during a panel discussion at PSX Neil Druckmann said that if the first game was about love, than in contrast the second game will be about hate.
It’s fair to say the game is highly anticipated for all the right reasons; The Last Of Us in many ways redefined gaming, and for me remains one of the finest story driven game of all time. This is in large due to the nature of the relationship which develops between Ellie and Joel, and how it has been incorporated into the games story, another reason for the success of the game is the treatment given to the character of Ellie. Right from the start it feels like Ellie is an actual normal teenage girl, which was a refreshing change from games who have a protagonist who is deemed as a super soldier or having some sort of otherworldly powers.
It would be fair to say that Ellie is perhaps one of the most realistic characters in modern day gaming, and is actually appreciated for her wit, intelligence and resourcefulness. More often than not the female protagonist in a video game is characterized as being fabulous, with a curvaceous body and looks to match. The prime example of this is the Tomb Raider series where Lara Croft takes on the mantle of the sexy explorer, who must take down the baddies while looking fabulous at the same time. The problem with this is that there is almost nothing interesting about her character apart from how she looks. Then there is Quiet from Metal gear Solid 5 who is barely clothed and in the whole game barely says anything, and in most part plays second fiddle to the protagonist.
With Ellie though it is a different story, she might be one of the main characters, but much of the game is focused around Joel saving her, and yet the character of Ellie is given such a treatment that the player is forced to see her as an equal to Joel. Right from the start you see a strong independent character that wears a stained shirt, and has messy hair. In short the character was normalized so that the player could actually be able to identify with what Ellie was going through.
In the DLC Left Behind it is also implied that Ellie might be bisexual, with Riley and her kissing at the very end. This was again a departure from stereotypical characters and saw a major “Queer” main character take center stage in an AAA title for the first time. In many ways it was groundbreaking as nobody had heard of a character who was for starters a female and had let’s say different sexual preferences and to top it all of looked like your average farm girl. The video game industry has in many ways normalized female characters with an ample cleavage and drop dead gorgeous looks, and in many ways this was a departure from the norm, and something new, and hence it was no surprise that the audience received it so well.
The Last Of Us 2 trailer shows Ellie as a 19 year old, and instantly you can see that nothing has changed at all, and Ellie is still your average girl next door , the only difference being the fact that she is hell bent on revenge and there is a slight hint of teen angst. It will be interesting to see how her character has developed in the sequel and how her actions influence the direction that the story will take. I guess we will just have to wait and find out.