(Pocket-lint) - The Last of Us Part II will finally hit stores on Friday 19 June, so PS4 gamers will soon be able to get their hands on perhaps the most important game of this console generation.
We've played a preview section ourselves and, spoilers aside, can safely say that fans of the original will find much that is reassuringly familiar, enabling them to jump right in.
However, this wasn't always going to be the case. In fact, when Naughty Dog first planned a sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, it had a different kind of experience in mind.
Pocket-lint spoke with co-game director of Last of Us 2, Anthony Newman, who told us that the studio originally wanted to make something with new gameplay mechanics: "We were very ambitious about wanting to make the game as different as possible," he said.
"When we initially started, the game was quite, quite different. We wanted to emphasise melee combat even more and have [players] play then take a back seat. And there were going to be all these wildly different changes we wanted to make.
"But over time we realised like, okay, this doesn't feel like Last of Us anymore. We were losing all the original elements, like stealth gameplay, that made the first game so successful."
Not all the work was wasted, though. Some of the elements of the charged gameplay were then adopted in the final release: "What was cool was that those initial experiments we had to pull back, a lot of them remain," added Newman.
New dodge and melee combat mechanics were two that made the cut.
"So much of what we learned in trying to make a melee game, we were able to retain.
"Having a melee enemy's reaction, having to worry about the timing. Or you have to watch and predict when it's the right time to counter attack. That was something that we learned a lot from the initial experiments.
"So, although it is very much in keeping with the tradition of the first game - and someone who has a lot of expertise with the first game will feel at home - I also think it's a very unique game. It's the original but, like, plus plus."
The Last of Us Part II will be available for PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro from Friday 19 June. Pre-orders are available now.