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Placement of Lost Levels in The Last of Us Part II Remastered’s Narrative

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Approximately three and a half years after its initial release, The Last of Us Part II Remastered is set to launch on PlayStation 5 in January 2024. Similar to the reaction when The Last of Us Part I was announced for remastering, concerns arose about the necessity of a full-priced remaster for a relatively recent game. However, the official announcement of TLOU 2 Remastered appears to have alleviated such apprehensions. The remastered version comes with an array of new content, notably the Lost Levels, consisting of three gameplay segments originally excluded from the final game.

In addition to the Lost Levels, The Last of Us Part II Remastered introduces a new game mode named No Return, a Speedrun Mode, a Guitar Free Play mode, graphical enhancements, faster load times facilitated by the PS5’s SSD, DualSense controller features, and additional improvements to the base game’s accessibility options, among other enhancements. While concerns about pricing were partially addressed with a $10 upgrade option, the Lost Levels have remained somewhat enigmatic. The announcement of TLOU 2 Remastered did not provide specific details, leaving uncertainties about where these Lost Levels would have been integrated into the game’s narrative had they not been omitted during development.

Details about The Last of Us Part II Remastered’s Lost Levels were not initially provided when the remaster was announced on the PlayStation Blog. As part of a comprehensive behind-the-scenes exploration, the Lost Levels accompany a commentary track playable during the campaign’s cutscenes. This feature includes insights from director Neil Druckmann, narrative lead Halley Gross, and actors Troy Baker (Joel), Ashley Johnson (Ellie), and Laura Bailey (Abby). The Lost Levels are described as early-development slices rather than fully finished levels, featuring embedded developer commentary for added context.

While the exact visual representation of these Lost Levels remains unclear, their nature suggests they won’t be seamlessly integrated into TLOU 2’s storyline. Instead, they may function as explorable areas accessible from a menu, offering players a deeper understanding of the game world. Although not officially confirmed, the PlayStation website listing for The Last of Us Part II Remastered has disclosed the names of the three Lost Levels: Jackson Party, Boar Hunt, and Sewers. While their narrative placement is not explicitly confirmed, these level titles provide some insight into their potential context within the game.

Placing the Jackson Party Lost Level within The Last of Us Part II Remastered’s storyline is relatively straightforward. Jesse makes a reference to Ellie’s eventful night before a morning patrol near the beginning of the game. This night involves Dina kissing Ellie while dancing, leading to a confrontation with a man named Seth, who uses a homophobic slur against Dina. This incident is later shown as a cutscene in the game, providing additional context to the relationships between Ellie, Dina, and Jesse.

The Jackson Party Lost Level likely occurs just before this dance cutscene. In the announcement trailer for The Last of Us Part II Remastered, a clip shows Ellie walking through Jackson in the same outfit she wears at the party. Festive lights decorate trees and lampposts, mirroring the decor in the cutscene, and Jackson’s residents are seen in the streets. The original intention of this level may have been to allow players to explore Jackson further and interact with NPCs before entering the party.

As for the Boar Hunt Lost Level, it seems to have been removed from near the end of the game. Ellie’s journal, one of the last entries players can unlock, details her experience hunting a boar. The sounds of the boar’s death trigger memories of Joel’s murder. This boar hunt likely occurred while Ellie was living on the farm with Dina, predating her departure for Santa Barbara in search of Abby. The journal mentions a gas station, and the Boar Hunt Lost Level is briefly glimpsed in the announcement trailer, showing Ellie emerging from the woods and heading towards a general store.

A boar hunting sequence, previously discussed by Druckmann and Baker on the latter’s Relater YouTube channel, is recognized to have been excluded from TLOU Part 2. Druckmann notes that the sequence was playable and cut very late in development, making it a likely candidate for inclusion as a Lost Level in The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered. The journal entry found in the game likely offers a condensed version of the cut sequence, portraying Ellie’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with witnessing Joel’s murder.

The placement of the third Lost Level, Sewers, in TLOU 2 Remastered’s storyline presents a bit more challenge compared to the other two and is likely situated much earlier in the game. During Ellie’s second day in Seattle, there is a brief section where she navigates through sewers. After being tackled by an infected through a window, she falls into a waterway leading to a sewer system tunnel. However, in this sequence, Ellie only traverses one large subterranean room before climbing a ladder back to the surface, followed shortly by her first encounter with the Seraphites.

This segment is the most probable location for the Sewers Lost Level, potentially removed from TLOU 2 for various reasons. Notably, this section follows Ellie’s initial encounter with Stalkers, a particularly challenging type of infected. Its removal might have aimed to provide players with a respite between two intense encounters. The full scope of the cut Sewers Lost Level will be unveiled with the release of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered on January 19, 2024, offering insights into why Ellie’s journey through Seattle’s sewer system was curtailed.

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