Naughty Dog’s sequel to the immense success that was The Last of Us (2013), will feature many ambitious features, like insane graphics, immersive storytelling and of course realistic walking animations, even for dogs and horses. Wait, what?
During a hands-on event of The Last of Us Part II (reported by GameSpot) the game’s co-director Anthony Newman revealed the new animation system to be one of the key features of the sequel. Although that might not sound like that big of a deal, a game like The Last of Us thrives on immersion. The new walking system seeks to make that part of the game as immersive as possible.
Newman: “In all our previous games there’s been this really distinct state machine where we say, ‘Play a run animation. Then play a turn left animation. Then play a turn right animation.’ The way motion matching works is it takes this massive bucket of animation, just hundreds and hundreds of animations, and chops them into little tiny bits. When you define the path that a player or an enemy wants to take, rather than saying, ‘Play this and then play that and then play that,’ the system actually looks at the bucket of animations, finds the ones that matches the path that you’re already taking, and blends them together frame-by-frame.”
According to Naughty Dog, that new way of ‘choosing’ which animation to play should really make the movement of characters (both Elsie and NPC’s) and even dogs and horses – that they had dressed up in motion capture suits to analyze their movements – feel as natural as possible.
In the newest gameplay video seen below, we can definitely spot some of those new moving mechanics in action. And it makes sense; Instead of the game playing the necessary animation based on the input by the player, it analyzes the trajectory the player is already moving in, and blends all the appropriate animation options together.
The Last of Us Part II will release on February 21st, 2020 for PlayStation 4 only.