Illustration for article titled Bad News, Naughty Dog Fans: ‘The Last Of Us Part II’ Has Been Delayed Again After Joel Was Arrested For Taking Pictures Of Kids At Local Playgrounds

When the news first came down the pipeline that The Last of Us Part II wouldn’t be hitting its planned Feb. 21, 2020 release date, it was a major blow to devotees of the series everywhere—but an understandable one. After all, this is one of the greatest gaming series in the medium’s history. If the Uncharted and Jax creators wanted to take their time making a fittingly perfect sequel, then so be it. Unfortunately, we now have even worse news, Naughty Dog fans: The developers just confirmed that the game would be delayed indefinitely after Joel was arrested today for taking photos of children at several playgrounds close to his residence in Hartville, WY.

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In a statement released this morning, the gamemakers acknowledged the series star’s misconduct as the basis for the delay without going into further detail.

“To respect the privacy of the parties involved, we won’t discuss the allegations any further than to confirm initial reports of Joel’s arrest earlier this morning at the Cahill Park playground,” read the brief 350-word press release from Naughty Dog, which refused to comment on repeated claims that the company knew of Joel’s issues prior to this incident and put pressure on other accusers to accept a settlement rather than come forward. “Given the circumstances, and Joel’s significant role in the game’s storyline, we cannot in good conscience release The Last Of Us Part II and have made the immediate decision to delay its release indefinitely.”

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“We hope Joel gets the help he needs,” the statement concluded.

The disgraced star’s arrest reportedly represents the culmination of a multi-year campaign of complaints by Hartville residents about Joel’s repeated attempts to clandestinely photograph their young sons and daughters, often while camped out on nearby park benches or as he smiled and asked about their favorite Disney movie from the woods across the street. When concerned locals threatened to call the police, they say Joel would comply and return to the trailer home on the other side of town where he lives with his elderly mother, only to reemerge photographing children at another park in a few weeks’ time.

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Sources say such concerns about Joel’s behavior were brushed aside by Naughty Dog press representatives as “unfounded” despite a decade-long pattern that includes a pending probation trial from 2015 for wandering into an occupied Kmart changing room where an 11-year-old boy was trying on khakis, the loss of his part-time job at a roller rink for unspecified reasons, and one distressing incident around the release of the first Last Of Us, where he allegedly exposed himself to an underage clicker.

As if things weren’t looking bleak enough for gamers—this has to be some of the worst news all year!

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Still, there’s a glimmer of hope for series aficionados in the form of expressions of support for Joel from one individual closer to the game than almost anyone else. When asked for her comments on the allegations, Ellie told reporters that, “this wasn’t the Joel [she] knew” and that she looked forward to returning to the game’s production once her costar’s innocence was proven.

So there you have it, folks! It’s possible The Last Of Us Part II might still see the light of day after all despite Joel’s legal problems, and if it does, it’s almost guaranteed to have Ellie’s involvement! Now that’s something we can all get behind!

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