In The Last of Us Part II, guitars are used as a symbolic tool to show the bond between Joel and Ellie, with several songs popping up in cutscenes. Guitars even appear as playable objects, and it’s possible for experienced musicians to recreate songs on Ellie’s in-game guitar. But one thing has remained unclear–how is Joel able to perform a song in-game that would have never been released in his world because of the outbreak?
In an early cutscene, Joel performs a cover of Pearl Jam’s Future Days, which appeared on the album Lightning Bolt. This album released on October 15, 2013–several weeks after September 26, 2013, which is Outbreak Day in the world of The Last of Us Part II. So how did Joel know a song that never got released?
According to director Neil Druckmann, it’s simple–the song was performed live at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois on July 19, and Joel saw a video of it on YouTube.
This makes sense, but it’s a shame that Joel’s canonical backstory on this song doesn’t involve him getting to go to the concert himself. In fact, getting the song in the game was a bit of a difficult task, and Druckmann nearly flew to Seattle to meet with Eddie Vedder.
Joel’s performance of this song can actually be traced back further to a Last of Us performance by voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, which included an epilogue to the game in which Joel began teaching Ellie how to play the guitar. This scene ultimately made its way into the sequel.
Unlike the original game, The Last of Us Part II won’t get story DLC, although a multiplayer standalone mode is coming.
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