Editorial: The Violence In THE LAST OF US 2's Latest Trailer Was Tough To Watch, But Necessary

A couple days ago a new trailer for The Last Of Us 2 was released, and it did not run without controversy. For those that missed the trailer (check it out here), some folks specifically took issue with parts that depicted a young Asian woman getting her arm mutilated with a hammer, as well as other bits that would make most people wince just a bit. Some spoke out against the use of gratuitous violence to sell the game, others spoke out about those speaking out saying the violence is fine. After a night of thinking about it, I can say the violence, while still incredibly tough for me to watch, was necessary to show in the trailer.

The reasoning is simple. If you're someone who likes your games to feature extra brutality and feel real, there's your evidence right there that The Last Of Us 2 is not going to shy away from hard to watch moments. If you're someone who doesn't want to play a game that has that kind of intensity, there's your evidence that The Last Of Us 2 is not going to shy away from hard to watch moments. As difficult as it was to watch, I can't really come down on a game for "showing violence" in a nation where our most popular dramas (The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones) feature gratuitous amounts of violence.

Violence is a part of American pop culture more so than most other countries in the world. I remember laughing at a British comedian who pointed out that the general American public will watch a zombies head get blown off point blank with a shotgun without batting an eyelash, but if an exposed breast pops out at a live event or someone says "fuck" there are trials and fines flying out. What was shown in The Last Of Us 2 was pretty intense, but it's literally nothing worse than what we've seen before in other popular culture.

Could things have been done better? Sure. Perhaps Sony could've thrown a disclaimer on the front end of the trailer warning people they were about to be blindsided with some crazy stuff (which I think intensified the reactions a bit). It also didn't help that these characters, while known to the fanbase avidly following the game's teases and updates, were relatively unknown to the masses who may have played and enjoyed the game. If we saw Ellie getting her arm hammered in that trailer, I feel like the reaction would've been different because we know her and can empathize with her character. I didn't even know the girl getting her arm crushed was of any importance until she survived the incident. 

Bottom line, The Last Of Us 2 is a game for adults that deals with adult themes. They've never marketed themselves as anything different, so I can't fault them for showing what they showed in their latest trailer. That'd be like me walking into a Quentin Tarantino movie and getting pissed that people are swearing. If it bothers you, don't play the game. If you like it, play the game. It's really as simple as that.

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