With Amy Hennig leaving Naughty Dog--and her role as director of the new Uncharted for PS4--earlier this year, The Last of Us co-directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann have stepped in to lead the PS4 debut of Uncharted.
Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells revealed the move in an interview with Game Informer. Asked about Straley and Druckmann helping during Uncharted's transition following Hennig's departure, Wells said, "It's not so much a transition period, actually. We've asked them to lead the project. They are excited as veterans of the Uncharted franchise to take the responsibility and they're doing great."
The two both worked on the first two Uncharted games; Wells notes that Straley was the art director on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and game director on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, while Druckmann helped write both games and worked as lead designer on Among Thieves. Perhaps as a result of that experience, the transition from Hennig has gone smoothly.
"It was not a difficult transition at all," Wells said. "Everybody just sort of accepted that as the new order of things and soldiered on. I mean we've been making enormous progress. If anything, things are accelerating instead of slowing down."
"We definitely have another project on the scale of Uncharted in very early pre-production stages." -- Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells
Fellow co-president Christophe Balestra admitted that with different people in the leadership roles, there will be some changes. "A little bit," he said when asked about there being a new spirit and priorities brought to the game. "They have to fall in love with the game they're making, right? They'll make the changes that they think are right. They're going to have to adjust what they've got and make it what they think is right for this game. There are some changes, obviously, that they will be making."
Wells and Balestra downplayed the series of departures Naughty Dog has seen this year in addition to Hennig, with Wells calling the moves "not significant at all." He also said Naughty Dog has never worked "on the 'auteur philosophy'" and reiterated that the games it makes are truly a team effort.
They also suggested that Straley and Druckmann being busy with Uncharted doesn't affect the studio's ability to continue working on another franchise, such as The Last of Us. "We definitely have another project on the scale of Uncharted in very early pre-production stages. We have the sizable team that it takes to get something like that off of the ground, but it's got a long runway in front of it," Wells said.
In addition to Uncharted for PS4, Naughty Dog has been working on a PS4 release of The Last of Us known as The Last of Us Remastered. It's also said it has two "brand-new experiences" in the work, one of which might be Uncharted.
It's rumored that gameplay from the new Uncharted will be on show at E3 next week. And while neither of the co-presidents offered an exact timetable for seeing more, Wells did offer a tease, saying, "We sure hope you're surprised by how amazing it looks! It's going to be an exciting story, and I think people are going to really buy into this one in a way that I think is consistent with the rest of the stories. It's a standalone adventure like all of them are; we don't expect people to have played the past games to enjoy the current one. But you're going to get to experience Drake and his crew in a new way."