The Last of Us Show Creators Explain Changes to the Clickers

The Last of Us as a game is acclaimed for the emotional ties it creates between the characters and the player, but let’s face it: what it’s best known for is its monsters. The Clickers, zombified humans whose brains and bodies have been overtaken by cordyceps fungus, make great nightmare fuel. With designs that look like mushrooms have just burst out of their heads, they’re gonna take more than athlete’s foot powder to stop. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Game fans may have noticed some changes in last night’s episode, and in an interview with Variety, The Last of Us show creators Neil Druckmann (who also wrote the original game) and Craig Mazin discussed the new abilities.

Most notably, unlike some other zombies and similar contagious hordes, the Clickers don’t necessarily need to bite victims. As seen in the first episode, they can extend fungal tendrils from their mouths, for some nasty kisses. “We did our best to find what’s unique about our story and world,” says Druckmann. “For our clickers, we lifted them from the game, and kept them as is. But for the more recently infected, we had a lot of conversations about what else can we do with the vector other than bites. We looked at concept art where there’s this implication of the fungus growing under the skin. What if that was the thing? It’s not so much about the bite, they just need these tendrils to go from one host to another and that’s how the infection spreads.”

Adds Mazin, “We were already talking about tendrils coming out and we were asking these philosophical questions, ‘Why are infected people violent? If the point is to spread the fungus, why do they need to be violent?’ We landed on that they don’t. They’re violent because we resist, but what if you don’t? What does it look like if you just stand perfectly still and let them do this to you?”

Another notable change is, to use a Star Trek: Discovery phrase, a sort of mycelial network, where fungal tendrils underground create a kind of network that connects the Clickers as well as any fungus in the wild. It was Mazin’s idea, prompting Druckmann to respond, “You son of a bitch, it’s one of those things that would make amazing gameplay. I wish we had that in the game.” With talk of a third game in the works, of course, it’s always possible.

What did you think of the upgraded Clickers? Would they make amazing gameplay? Let us know in comments.

Recommended Reading: The Art Of The Last Of Us

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