Almost 10 years after the launch of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s video game has become even once extremely topical thanks to the success of the HBO TV series, which has just finished its first official season.
In Naughty Dog’s masterpiece (find the remake The Last of Us Part I on Amazon) the protagonists will have to deal with a post-apocalyptic world changed forever by the infection caused from the Cordyceps fungus, now able to attack humans too.
Considering the incredible success of this idea, it may seem incredible to think that in the initial stages not only could the infection have been very different, but that it was also the subject of various criticisms also from by the same developers as Naughty Dog.
Inverse has indeed retrieved an interesting interview given by Neil Druckmann to The Verge just in 2013, a few days after the official launch, in which he admitted that the initial idea for the infection was «misogynistic» and quite different from the final version seen in the video games and TV series.
One of the initial prototypes of The Last of Us — originally codenamed “Mankind” — had already devised the Cordyceps infection similar to what we saw in the video game, with one difference: the mushroom only targeted women.
Predictably, the idea was rejected almost immediately, especially following protests from the developers themselves by Naughty Dog given that, as admitted by Druckmann himself, «it was a misogynistic idea“.
Other initial ideas rejected concerned the very nature of the protagonists: in one version we would have seen a policeman ready to protect a little girl, who would have become a protector herself as soon as her problems of heart, while in another prototype the female protagonist could only communicate with us using sign language.
Although the “misogynistic” mushroom idea was inevitably scrapped, Inverse suggests that these very final prototypes may have been reused in the show, manifesting themselves in the occasional attacks of Joel’s panic and Sam’s use of sign language.
Neil Druckmann’s revelations are proof that development phases are never so immediate, but that it takes time to find the right idea to turn a project into a great success. The same thing happened even with the TV series itself, which was one step away from even becoming an animated series.
Turning instead to much more recent interviews, the director has already confirmed that Naughty Dog is already working on a new video game for PS5, remaining however very elusive about the possibility that it could be The Last of Us Part III. However, despite his statements, many fans have already chosen to believe that this will be the new project currently in development.