Slay together, stay together
From tag-along to leading the charge, Ellie’s maturation from The Last of Us to Part II means she’s fully capable of handling her own. (Although, the original Last of Us left no doubt as to whether she could fend for herself.) In Part II, Ellie will have her own sidekick.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, director Neil Druckmann confirmed a non-playable companion for The Last of Us Part II. “Well, so, Ellie used to be an NPC, but she’s the protagonist in this story, so the player is controlling Ellie. Umm, it’s safe to say with the game that we made in the past that there will be some NPC with you in this story, even though we’re not showing [the NPC] in this demo,” Druckmann said.
He continued “And our general approach is to say, again, ‘How do we treat them like people? How do we get them to behave honestly as those people? How do we give them interesting characteristics so that they can navigate the world, make meaningful actions, and surprise you in the way people do?'”
The relationship between Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us is what made that game such an emotional rollercoaster. It would’ve never reached those heights had Ellie not spent the majority of the game as an NPC. The two constantly relied on each other and that only strengthened their bond. That’s what raised the stakes whenever things got dicey. Expect something similar out of Part II, even if it’s not rooted in paternal/maternal protection.