The Last Of Us Part II, whether you love it or hate it, is an absolutely gorgeous game. The environments, the lighting, even the sound design, it’s all awe-inspiring to look at. Another visual detail that Naughty Dog has always been on the cutting edge of is facial animations.
The Last Of Us Part II’s Facial Animations Are Incredible
Ever since Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune back in 2007, they’ve pioneered cinematic storytelling in videogames. Now, their work on The Last Of Us Part II is drawing praise from people across the industry as well.
One of the people who has lauded their efforts in this department is actor Roger Clark. He’s best known for playing the role of Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2. That game had incredibly storytelling and facial animations on its own.
The Last Of Us Part II’s Facial Animations Outside Cutscenes Are Systemic
However, he had special words of praise for The Last Of Us Part II. “It’s a landmark in the medium. Best facial capture I have seen to date along with excellent performances, design and pace of storytelling,” he wrote in his tweet.
His tweet drew the attention of Neil Uchitel, senior sound designer at Naughty Dog. Uchitel shed some more light on how they handled facial animations in the game. While the cutscenes in the game are obviously a result of performance capture, that’s not true of the facial animations that occur in the middle of gameplay.
The Last Of Us Part II’s Facial Animation System Is Unique
“It’s an astounding system designed by animator Keith Paciello (not on twitter). It’s like nothing that anyone has ever seen in games,” wrote Uchitel. He also further elaborated on how exactly this system works. “Lines of dialogue are tagged with an emotion from a large list, and the char displays the emotion while saying the line, seamlessly,” he said.
This system is so good that you often can’t tell whether the dialogue is taking place in real-time, or it’s part of a cutscene. Should be interesting to see if this system pops up in Naughty Dog’s future games.