Naughty Dog has seemingly confirmed that Joel isn't dead in The Last of Us Part 2, with the developer stating that while the upcoming game's latest trailer may not feature Joel and Ellie, the sequel is still "very much" about the pair.
Naughty Dog made the admission in the description for the game's EU trailer, which was revealed today during the PlayStation Paris Games Week 2017 event. It reads:
At its core, The Last of Us Part 2 is still very much about Ellie and Joel, but for this reveal, we wanted to showcase several new characters that are integral to their next journey. We’re sure you have many questions after watching this scene. We’re also pretty sure that we’re going to see all sorts of theories about whom these characters are, where and when this scene takes place, and how all of this fits into Ellie and Joel’s next story. For now we’re keeping mum, but we’re excited to see what y’all make of this piece of the puzzle.
This is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it pretty much confirms that Joel is still kicking around in The Last of Us Part 2, a topic which has spawned a number of fan theories regarding his potential death. With the game's reveal trailer earlier this year suggesting he may have met his maker following the events of the original game, Naughty Dog making this big reveal in a video description for a trailer is a surprising move.
Secondly, it confirms that everyone featured in the new trailer is a brand new character. Though the young woman shown being hanged didn't look much like Ellie, many were speculating that the character may have underwent a big makeover between the games, or that Naughty Dog's new graphics engine may have caused her to look considerably different. However, Naughty Dog has stated that this isn't the case, and that this trailer was instead used to show a slew of new characters that Joel and Ellie will likely meet.
It remains to be seen whether or not Joel and Ellie have remained unscathed during the time between the two games, though they'll both at least remain the focal point of the sequel, despite the growing belief that he may have died following the events of the first time. While Naughty Dog is keeping its cards close to its chest with this new trailer, it indicates that things are about to get a whole lot darker in the series' post-apocalyptic world.