There aren’t many games that I’d be afraid to mess with, but The Last of Us would definitely rank among them, right alongside Half-Life 2, Mass Effect and all but the last 20 minutes of BioShock. These aren’t flawless games, but they do represent some of the greatest writing that’s come out of this industry, even if a few of them weren’t quite able to nail that ending.
Endings can be tricky. The goal is to wrap things up in a satisfying way, without it coming across unfinished, rushed, cheesy, or any number of other adjective no writer wants to hear about their work. BioShock was near-perfection until that final boss fight, and Mass Effect had consistently great writing until the third game nearly ruined it.
The Last of Us had stellar writing that didn’t fizzle out before the end credits could start rolling. It was emotional, like the rest of the game, and even a little ambiguous. I enjoyed the ending Naughty Dog came up with, but there’s always room for improvement, and that’s exactly what Erevador did when he took to NeoGAF to share his own ending.
Ellie and Joel are driving away from the hospital. He has saved her, and murdered the fireflies.
In the rearview mirror, Joel sees a car approaching. He lightly hits the gas pedal, trying to put a little distance between him and the car that follows. The car keeps gaining on him, it pulls up beside him.
Joel looks out the window and sees the last person he wants to see right now.
It is Vin Diesel. A relic from Joel’s dark drift racing past.
Vin gives Joel a look that only says one thing. This challenge is on baby.
Joel knows what he must do, Ellie has never seen him like this. The blood of a racer courses through his veins.
“I know you can do this Joel. The blood of a racer courses through your veins.”
With Ellie’s encouragement, Joel slams on the gas. He races Vin Diesel. Joel is faster than Vin Diesel. In fact, he is better than Vin Diesel in lots of ways.
He wins the race.
Ellie and Joel embrace, victorious. He holds her close, and whispers in her ear.
“You know, Elllie, we really are 2 fast 2 furious.”
Impressive, no? Naughty Dog Creative Director Neil Druckmann seems to think so, and he wrote the original ending.
— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) January 3, 2015