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Troy Baker has spoken about his return to the role of Joel in Naughty Dog’s upcoming title The Last of Us Part II.

During an exclusive interview with OnlySP at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming, Baker was asked how he felt to return to the role alongside Ashley Johnson, who plays Ellie in the sequel to the acclaimed 2013 title.

“The first day we were on set was when we shot [the PSX reveal] trailer,” Baker revealed. “We go through rehearsals and stuff, and we walk through it, and things get real serious all of a sudden, when we heard both of our voices. When you put everything together, that’s when Ashley goes away and Troy goes away, and you’re left with Ellie and Joel.”

Baker noted that the first time creative director Neil Druckmann spoke to him about the potential of a sequel was during the British Academy Video Game Awards in March 2014.

Check out a clip from our exclusive interview with Troy Baker and Nolan North—including the revelation of North’s return as David and the significant musical numbers featured in the game—above, and stay tuned for the full interview.

Druckmann recently revealed that Baker and Johnson had completed their main work on the game, describing it as “the most ambitious cinematic shoot we’ve ever done.” Before that, he stated that the final scene of The Last of Us Part II has been shot, with Laura Bailey recently completing her performance capture for the title. Druckmann also revealed that the rapper Logic and actor Travis Willingham will also be appearing in the game.

Earlier this month, a screen of the game’s weapon upgrade system was leaked in a promotional video, with some noting that weapon variation may be present in the game’s revision of combat.

To stay updated on The Last of Us Part II and the world of single-player gaming, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and join the discussion in our community Discord server.

Rhain discovered a long time ago that mixing one of his passions (video games) with the other (writing) might be a good idea, and now he’s been stuck in the industry for over four years with no way of escaping. His favourite games are those with deep and captivating narratives: while it would take far too long to list them all, some include L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption, Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted series.

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Interview

The Long Return Creates a Beautiful Aesthetic in Each Level — An Interview With Max Nielsen

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The Long Return is a beautiful third-person puzzle adventure game, following the story of an orphaned cub. The player explores hand crafted levels as the cub retraces the steps it once took with his mother. The Long Return’s level design is familiar yet still distinct and refreshing, taking inspiration from both new and old games to create this muted low poly feel.

This gorgeous, debut project is the work of solo developer Max Nielsen. Although he is currently finalising the game ahead of its release later this year, he took the time to talk to OnlySP to reflect and tell us more.


OnlySP: What inspired you to bring The Long Return to life? Was it an idea you were sitting on for a while or did it come on quite suddenly?

Nielsen: Actually, I never planned on releasing this game, or even finishing it. I had just quit my job at Microsoft and wanted to create a quick demo for my portfolio, so that I could apply for jobs in the industry. At the time I was working on a 2D RPG mostly for fun, and I knew I would need to make something in 3D for the bigger studios to give me a chance. So I decided to make a fairly simple demo with around 10 minutes of gameplay. However, while working on it, I got offered a job as an application consultant at a great company, and they said they would let me work on my own games and run my own company on the side, so I accepted the job and since then I have been working on this game as a hobby on my free time.

OnlySP: Each zone in The Long Return has such a pleasing aesthetic, how did you go about level design in a mostly natural world?

Nielsen: I am a huge Nintendo fan, Zelda OoT is still my favorite single player game ever, and I had just played through Zelda BotW, and wanted to create a world with a similar color palette and feel. After trying out a few different things I decided to use the low poly style because that would mean I could actually model some stuff by myself. I think I’ve gone through the level design of each zone in my game at least 10 times since I started, it’s crazy how much you learn just by trial and error (although time-consuming).

OnlySP: Will the game have a stronger focus on gameplay and location or story. Is The Long Return is a mix of the two?

Nielsen: Since the start I really wanted to tell a story without any words or text, and I have kept true to that. Instead I tell the story using memories and visuals. This does set certain limits to how gripping and detailed the story can be, especially when working with animals, but I think the message comes across quite well. The game is, at its core, a puzzle/adventure game, and you spend most of your time solving different puzzles and finding your way past obstacles, accompanied by an amazing original soundtrack that I still cannot believe is for my game.

OnlySP: Being your first big project game, what have you learned during development?

Nielsen: That list is incredibly long, and hopefully I can create a post-mortem detailing most of it. But I would say the main things I will take away from this project is:

– Plan, research and test; When starting out I kind of just created features for the game by trial and error, this leads to some really messy code. Nowadays I always make sure to properly plan, take notes, research best practices and test everything in a dev-environment before putting it in my game.
– Marketing is a necessary evil, even as a hobby developer with very limited time, I still don’t do enough of it, shame!
– It’s okay to take a day off, don’t burn out, it’s supposed to be fun!

OnlySP: Overall, how long has it taken for you to develop The Long Return?

Nielsen: Roughly a year. But I’ve been working on games for 4-5 years before that as a hobby.

OnlySP: Do you have any plans after The Long Return is released?

Nielsen: Big, BIG plans, haha. While I love this game and all I’ve learned, I am so excited to start my next project. It is much more “my type of game” and I have very high hopes for it. I won’t say too much yet, but it will combine my two favorite genres of single player games; RPG and city management.

The Long Return is set to release in August 2019.

For more interviews in the world of single-player gaming, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Also, be sure to join the discussion in the community Discord server.

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