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The Last Of Us 2 developer breaks its silence on harassment

Following a series of delays, The Last of Us Part 2 finally arrived in stores last month. While the game has been relatively well-received by critics, the game has also been mired in controversy. Even before the release of the game, footage from the story was leaked online that sparked a backlash from fans of Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic series. Now, the people involved in the production of the game itself have been targeted with harassment from disgruntled fans. The ending of the original game was one of the most controversial of all time, but the response to this sequel has been something very different and altogether more disturbing.

In a post on Twitter, series director Neil Druckmann shared a series of screenshots from messages he has received through social media. Many of these messages are angry and violent in nature, criticizing Druckmann and Naughty Dog for the direction of the franchise. Some of the comments also consist of harmful racial stereotypes and slurs that are both homophobic and transphobic, so proceed with caution.

Druckmann wrote, "You can love or hate the game and share your thoughts about it. Unfortunately too many of the messages I've been getting are vile, hateful, & violent."

Actress Laura Bailey, who portrayed the character of Abby in The Last of Us Part 2, likewise revealed that she has received quite a bit of hate mail and even death threats from angry gamers. This tweet was also accompanied by some truly disturbing and mean-spirited messages, so be warned before you check them out for yourself.

Bailey tweeted, "Man, I try to only post positive stuff on here...but sometimes this just gets a little overwhelming." Despite this frustration, Bailey also took the time to thank the many fans who have sent words of encouragement.

The character of Abby has been a major point of contention for many fans of the Naughty Dog series. It's hard to discuss the controversy surrounding The Last of Us Part 2 without getting into a bit of spoiler territory. In other words, consider this a warning and beware of spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Part 2.

One of the big things is that Abby's very role in the game's story has been unpopular among many gamers. Though the game was widely billed by Naughty Dog as being primarily Ellie's story, that turned out to not be the case. Not too far into The Last of Us Part 2, players are given the opportunity to play as Abby as you get to know her and her friends. Then, Abby does the unthinkable and kills off one of the main characters of the franchise. 

It's a shocking moment that has proven to be very upsetting for fans. Not only that, but later on in the game, you are once again put in Abby's shoes as you play through the events of The Last of Us Part 2 from that character's perspective. This is done in an effort to show that all of the characters have good and bad in them, but that Abby is no more the villain than Ellie is. It's a bold narrative choice that has not sat well with many fans of the series.

In fact, the narrative bait and switch seen here has led to many fans signing a petition for Naughty Dog to remake the game with an altered storyline. It's almost impossible to imagine something like that happening, but it's a much less toxic form of expression that what some of the folks who worked on the game are dealing with.

In an official statement on Twitter, Naughty Dog spoke out against the harassment seen in the days since the release of The Last of Us Part 2. "Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast," read the statement. "Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse."

This isn't the first time that Naughty Dog has taken action against hateful messages on social media. In the weeks leading up to the release of The Last of Us Part 2, the developer also restricted commenting on some Twitter posts in an effort to curb hate speech and spoilers in the comments. 

The message from Naughty Dog and co. is clear: whatever you think of the story of the game or its morally complex ending, attacking the people involved in its production will not be tolerated. Hopefully the folks who are making such awful threats and barbs will get the message.