Why The Last of Us designers exchanged spores for Cordyceps networks

A shot of an infected person stuck to a wall with overgrown mushrooms in The Last of Us

Photo: Liane Hentscher/ HBO

You’ve most likely observed now that the fungi in HBO’s The Last of Us program works a bit differently than it carries out in the games– especially in exactly how the Cordyceps fungi, based upon the real-life fungis of the very same name, spreads amongst people. Spores are out, and also the mushroom network remains in.

Spores in the games offer the game’s ambience: With the appropriate light, you can see spores spilling out from broken doors, a caution of the risk that exists within. It’s the signal that the personalities, normally Joel, should place their masks on to avoid infection, though Ellie’s resistance indicates she’ll just ever before require the mask to assimilate. But there’s no other way the gas masks can operate in the program. You can not have your primary personalities’ faces concealed behind a large mask; this isn’t The Mandalorian, besides.

“The show [is] taking a more realistic approach to the story and the world,” The Last of Us author and also designer Neil Druckmann informedPolygon “If we wanted to treat it realistically, and there are spores near, characters would wear gas masks all the time. Then we lose so much, which is maybe the most important part of the journey is what’s going on inside behind their eyes, in their soul, in their beings. For that logistical reason we were like, Let’s find a different vector.”

The vector Druckmann and also The Last of Us‘ authors selected was the mushroom network. It’s a principle based upon the real-life scientific research of mushrooms: We see mushrooms when they break via dust. The items we see are the fruiting bodies of the entire microorganism, the remainder concealed below the surface area of theEarth That part is called the mycelium, the strings that spread out underground and also attach mushrooms and also trees right into a “mycorrhizal network,” an all-natural network like the web– some mushroom specialists call it the “woodwide web.” Trees, mushrooms, and also various other plants utilize these networks to transfer water and also various other nutrients and also to “communicate” in various means, commonly prolonged for miles and also miles.

The mushroom networks, comprised of stretching tendrils, function similarly in The Last of Us on HBO, however as opposed to moving info regarding where nutrients require to go, it notifies the network of contaminated to a prospective host: people. Individual contaminated individuals sign up with the “network” as spindly tendrils become an opening in their body, commonly a bite. (In episode 2, we see an even more special approach of dispersing: An contaminated body leans right into Tess for a kiss, tendrils growing from his mouth right into hers.) The fungi spreads out promptly and also surpasses all features other than need to spread out.

“[We wanted] to feel like these things are interconnected. They can come out against us as a mass,” Druckmann claimed. “But also how they pass it from one person to the other, it just became this really disturbing thing, which was like, Oh, this is delicious. We have to use this.”

The adjustment from spores to tendrils and also the mushroom network includes an additional layer of stress to the method the contaminated job. It’s no more sufficient just to remain sneaky and also peaceful– one incorrect relocation can suggest triggering a network of beasts that relocate en masse and also understand your precise place.

It’s a great adjustment– in the video game, spores themselves do not present a hazard. You can not select when to place on a gas mask or when to take it off; designers made that choice for you, and also the gamer is simply along for the trip because feeling. Take the gas masks away, and also the game would not transform significantly. It’s simply something that takes place: gas masks on and after that gas masks off.

There’s additionally the factor to consider of mounting the program around an air-borne pandemic, like pc gaming web site Kotaku wrote after the very first episode premiered. The Last of Us can be a tough watch because respect, and also possibly a reason the idea of spores was axed for a mushroom network. After all, there’s still that very same feeling of secret with the tendrils, however with the included stress of the interaction in between contaminated. Mushrooms have a map of the globe that’s undetectable to any person else; their only objective is spreading out the fungi.


Source: Polygon


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