It has been nearly a year since Naughty Dog closed out the media showcase of the PlayStation Experience convention of 2016 by unveiled a trailer for The Last of Us: Part II’, the sequel to the 2013 hit game The Last of Us, and that it would once again focus on the original game’s protagonists Joel and Ellie. Perhaps then, this is why there was so much confusion over the decision to only give us a glimpse of never-before-seen characters in the latest ‘Part II’ trailer shown at Paris Games Week 2017 on Monday evening.

As well as causing a stir by not checking in with Joel and Ellie, the newest trailer also had some fans up in arms about an eye-watering level of violence in a trailer that clocks in at just under five minutes.

Some outlets have even criticised the trailer’s violence as unnecessary, but Sony has since released a statement in defence of the trailer.

Crossing the line?

The Last of Us series is an undoubtedly bleak one, and violence is just part of the deal with the first game, so it isn’t that surprising that the new trailer features such brutal scenes. However, some have criticised the trailer for being gratuitously violent, arguing that the first game did a sufficient job of setting the tone and negating the need for such violence. In just five minutes we see corpses with their entrails hanging out of them; the attempted hanging of a woman who then has a knife pressed to her stomach; a different woman having her arm smashed to bits by a man with a claw hammer; then that same hammer smashing into two people’s faces.

Suffice to say, that the new trailer for The Last of Us: Part II is not for the faint of heart. They go on to argue that the tone of the game is well established already and the same effect could have been achieved with far less brutality. The debate comes from the fact that this may well be true, given the first game doesn't pull any punches when it comes to gruesome imagery.

So, do fans of the series really need reminding of the gory nature of this particular game world, or was the trailer intended to shock? It is a valid question, but perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between. Could this shocking trailer be a message to fans of the first game that the second will be an even more harrowing affair?

If nothing else, the shock factor of this divisive video has got people talking, and after all, no publicity is bad publicity.

Sony defends trailer

Jack Ryan, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment's European division has since defended the trailer via The UK Telegraph. Ryan said: "The Last of Us obviously is a game made by adults to be played by adults."

Seemingly of the opinion that it should be up to the viewer/player's discretion as to whether they watch the trailer or indeed play the game. An opinion shared by many, given the game will likely receive the highest age rating meaning only those older than 18 can play them, by which age people are able to decide for themselves what content they indulge in.

It has often been claimed that violent video games make the player violent too, yet, many studies have actually found the opposite. Some studies have found no evidence of a link between violent video games to real-world violence, while others have even found that gaming "reduces crime." The reason this is supposedly the case is that by perpetrating such violent acts in video games, rather than desensitising the player (as was originally claimed), the player is shown the full repercussions of their actions. The Last of Us is a particularly good example of this, Joel's actions are morally grey at best, and constantly makes the player question whether they are doing the right thing too.

More than the Last of Us.

While the brutal nature of TLoU Part II's trailer did get people talking, that wasn't the only issue people took with it, with some fans being put out that their favourite characters were nowhere to be seen. Having said that, Naughty Dog is known for teasing their fans, having notably done so with a poster released in June 2016 showing an arm holding a switchblade but was later revealed to be a teaser for the PSX trailer in 2016.

They even did the same thing this year, with a poster which seemingly showed Joel holding a hammer - much like the one that appeared in the new trailer - but as we know now, that arm belongs to Laura Bailey's as yet unnamed character.

Yet, while the unnamed hammer-wielding character is not someone we recognise from the first game, the general consensus seems to suggest that she may be more closely linked to the characters of The Last of Us than initially believed. A lot of people have been theorising that the Part II trailer could be taking place in the past, and the woman at the centre of the trailer could be Ellie's mother. It is obviously early days, but this would explain why we are seeing an altogether new set of characters in the trailer (available on YouTube) for what could be the most anticipated PS4 game of 2018.

The Last of Us: Part II is expected to be released in 2018 on PlayStation 4 consoles.