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The (updated) list of E3 2020 replacement events

The E3-shaped hole in the 2020 video game calendar has been filled by multiple digital events, livestreams, and festivals  Here’s our guide.

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E3 2020 replacement events
ESA / Thumbsticks

The E3-shaped hole in the 2020 video game calendar has been filled by multiple digital events, live streams, and festivals  Here’s our guide to every confirmed E3 2020 replacement taking place this summer.

In the absence of E3 2020, publishers, media groups, and, erm, entrepreneurs, have stepped in to ensure that there’s a steady stream of information on this year’s new video games and next-gen consoles.

However, keeping track of every event is increasingly difficult. Many publishers are showing games on multiple channels, as well as holding their own live streams. To help you make sense of it all, here’s our guide to every confirmed event.

We’ll keep this page updated over the summer, so why not treat your web browser to a new bookmark.

Updated: June 1, 2020 with new details from IGN, Sony, BitSummit, and New Game+ Expo

Replacement E3 2020 events

Summer Game Fest

Dates: May – August, 2020

Geoff Keighley and iam8bit wasted no time in pitching up the Summer Game Fest tent on the grave of E3 2020. The festival is a four-month-long series of live streams and announcements from publishers and platform holders including 2K, Activision, Bungie, PlayStation, and EA. The festival concludes with Gamescom Opening Night Live in August.

In addition to individual game reveals, other events are also being held under the Summer Game Fest banner. We’ll list these separately below.

Visit: Summer Game Fest

BitSummit Gaiden

Dates: June 27-28, 2020

BitSummit Gaiden will highlight more than 75 games from Japan and around the world on Discord and Twitch. Dev chats, Let’s Plays, and giveaways are promised, and streamable demos will be available via Utomik.

Visit: BitSummit

Guerrilla Collective Live

Dates: June 6- 8, 2020

The Guerrilla Collective Live is a three-day indie focused event from The MIX, who run one of the most reliably excellent ancillary E3 events. It’s produced with help from the Kinda Funny team and hosted by Greg Miller. Confirmed exhibitors include 11 Bit Studios, Thunderful, Paradox Interactive, Raw Fury, and Coffee Stain Studios. The event promises game announcements for every platform.

Watch here: Twitch

IGN Summer of Gaming

Dates: June 2020

IGN’s Summer of Gaming will feature announcements from a host of big-name publishers and indies. The main event is the IGN Expo, which runs on June 5, 8 and 9. It includes announcements from CD Projekt Red, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Sega, Ubisoft, Blizzard, and Xbox, to name a few. The PC Gaming Show is also part of IGN’s lineup.

Watch here: IGN

Future Games Show

Dates: June 6, 2020

GamesRadar is fronting the Future Games Show, an hour-long show which promises “exclusive trailers, announcements, and deep dives on existing AAA and indie games.” All that in one hour. Impressive.

Watch here: Twitch

Gamescom Opening Night Live

Dates: August 24, 2020

Gamescom Opening Night Live returns for its second year and is once again hosted by the ever-present Geoff Keighly. We’re not sure if there will be any games left to announce by August, but the event acts as a lead-in to this year’s digital-only Gamescom expo.

Watch here: Gamescom

GameSpot’s Play for All

Dates: June, 2020

Gamespot’s Play for All features a familiar lineup of companies with Bethesda, Larian Studios, Bandai Namco, and Square Enix all promising content. The event runs across all of CBS Interactive’s gaming channels, including GameSpot, Giant Bomb, and Metacritic. Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller and NoClip’s Danny O’Dwyer will also be on hand to flesh out over 100 hours of content.

Watch here: YouTube

Indie Live Expo 2020

Dates: June 6, 2020

Indie Live Expo 2020 will deliver an “information-based live stream for indie games, developers, and gamers.” Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida is among the industry figureheads delivering personal messages.

Watch here: Indie Live Expo

Kinda Funny Games Showcase

Dates: June, 2020

The Kinda Funny Games team are continuing their daily video games coverage throughout the summer. They are also producing the three-day Guerrilla Collective Live event in collaboration with The MIX, and will host another Kinda Funny Games Showcase in June.

Watch here: YouTube

The MIX

The MIX is one of our favourite indie game shows. The organisers always curate an eclectic collection of games, many of which become hits and GOTY contenders. This year, The MIX is behind Guerrilla Collective Live.

New Game+ Expo

Dates: June 23, 2020

NGPX is an online showcase of new and upcoming releases from a range of developers, including many from Japan. You can look forward to hearing from Atlus, Arc System Works, Aksys, SNK, NIS America, Spike Chunsoft, and Natsume.

Visit: NGPX

PC Gaming Show

Dates: June 6, 2020

The annual PC Gaming Show is sometimes overlong, but it usually contains a few gems that would be otherwise overlooked in the E3 hubbub. (Say hello, Maneater.) This year’s show is also included as part of Guerrilla Collective Live and the IGN Summer of Gaming schedule.

Watch here: Twitch

Steam Game Festival: Summer Edition

Dates: June 9 – 14, 2020

Valve’s Steam Game Festival highlights PC games due for release within the next year. Free limited-time demos and short playable experiences are planned, alongside some exclusive developer interviews. Naturally, every game can be added to your Steam wish list.

Visit: Steam

Publisher Press Conferences

2K

Dates: May 19 / TBC

The Mafia Trilogy has already been announced and two-thirds released. 2K is also participating with IGN Summer of Gaming, Summer Game Fest, and Gamespot’s Play For All.

Activision

Dates: TBC

On a recent earnings call, Activision promised “several remastered and reimagined experiences” for release in 2020. We can also expect news on the next Call of Duty and a brand new Crash Bandicoot game. Keep an eye on the Summer Game Fest for more details.

Bandai Namco

Dates: TBC

Bandai Namco is showing new products via IGN’s Summer of Gaming and Summer Game Fest.

Bethesda At Home

Dates: Ongoing

Bethesda is broadcasting  Bethesda At Home live streams weekly throughout the season. Additional announcements will also be released via Summer Game Fest.

Watch here: Twitch

Capcom

Dates: TBC

At the time of writing, we have no news on Capcom’s plans. Watch this space.

Devolver Direct

Dates: June, 2020

We’re hopeful that Nina Struthers will once again front Devolver Digital’s annual presser. A recent tweet from the company said: “Devolver Direct 2020 is happening but we’re not sure when due to THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES. Should be a good one though.” Devolver’s output also forms part of IGN’s summer offering.

Watch here: Twitch

EA Play Live

Dates: June 18, 2020

Will FIFA 21 and Madden NFL 21 feature a “behind closed doors” mode? Discover that – and much more – at EA Play Live. It’s rumoured that we’ll get our first look at the next Dragon Age game and Anthem‘s big revamp.

Watch here: EA Play

Epic Games

Dates: Ongoing

Epic Games has already confirmed that Fortnite is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X at launch. The company also unveiled Unreal Engine 5 with an impressive real-time PS5 demo. More announcements will come via Summer Game Fest and IGN throughout the summer.

Watch here: Twitch

CD Projekt Red (Night City Wire)

Dates: June 11, 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red will broadcast a Night City Wire live stream on June 11. Expect new gameplay footage from one of the year’s most anticipated games.

Watch here: Twitch

Paradox Insider

Dates: June 6, 2020

Paradox Insider will be broadcast as part of Guerrilla Collective Live. Look forward to more information on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.

Watch here: Twitch

PlayStation State of Play

Dates: Ongoing

Sony’s first PlayStation State of Play streams of the season focused on the upcoming PS4 releases The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima. We expect more editions over the summer, continuing this week with our first look at games running on PlayStation 5. Tune in on Thursday, June 4, at 1:00 pm PT.

Watch here: YouTube

Nintendo

Dates: TBC

It’s rumoured that the Nintendo Direct for planned June has been delayed due to the impact of Covid-19. Nonetheless, we should get regular updates from the House of Mario over the summer. Paper Mario: The Oragami King was recently announced out of nowhere, and a collection HD remasters on Switch is rumoured to celebrate Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary.

Sega

Dates: TBC

Sega of America and Sega of Europe are confirmed to be participating in IGN’s and Gamespot’s events.

Square Enix

Dates: TBC

Square Enix has reportedly abandoned plans for replacement E3 press conference. Instead, the company is focussing on individual game reveals via Summer Game Fest, IGN’s Summer of Gaming, and Gamespot’s Play For All.

Stadia

Although there’s no confirmation of a summer Stadia Connect broadcast, we wouldn’t spill our porridge if Google tries to give its game streaming platform a bit of a relaunch. The Stadia Pro giveaway in April was a good start.

Tennocon 2020

Dates: July 11, 2020

Digital Extreme’s dedicated Warframe conference is going all-digital and included as part of the Summer Game Fest programme. Paid conference packs are available, each including in-game cosmetics or physical gear. A portion of all ticket proceeds will support Autism Ontario London and The Alzheimer Society London.

Visit: Tennocon

Ubisoft Forward

Dates: July 12, 2020

Expect Ubisoft’s summer presentation to have a familiar feel with more details expected on Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Gods & Monsters, Rainbow Six: Quarantine, and Watch Dogs: Legion. We might even see Skull & Bones again. A brand new game is also promised.

Watch here: YouTube

Xbox 20/20 (Inside Xbox)

Dates: Monthly from May

Although the first look at Xbox Series X ‘gameplay’ went over like a lead balloon, there’s still plenty to get excited about. July’s Xbox 20/20 promises more on titles in development at Xbox Game Studios such as Halo: Infinite, Hellblade 2, and – dare we speculate – a new Fable? Xbox content is also included as part of Summer Game Fest, IGN’s Summer of Gaming, and GameSpot’s Play for All.

Watch here: Mixer

WB Games

Dates: TBC

Will WB Games ever reveal the Batman game they’ve been teasing? We hope to see that, and more from Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. WB Games is participating in Summer Game Fest.


As you can see, it’s a busy summer with multiple events all vying for attention of gamers. We’ll endeavour to keep this page as up to date as possible, but let us know via Facebook or Twitter if we’ve missed something.

E3 is dead. Long live E3. We didn’t think we’d miss it.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

Guides

What are the Watch Dogs Legion system requirements?

Smartphone? Check. 3D-printed taser? Check. Massive, impractical drone? Check. But what are the Watch Dogs Legion system requirements?

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Watch Dogs Legion system requirements
Ubisoft

Smartphone? Check. 3D-printed taser? Check. Massive, impractical drone? Check. But what are the Watch Dogs Legion system requirements?

Watch Dogs Legion launches on a bunch of systems over the next two months.

First, it’ll launch on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia (yeah, remember that?) on October 29, 2020. Then a fortnight later, it’s a launch title for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, on November 10. Then (if you’re in the right country) it’ll be a launch title on PlayStation 5 on November 12. Then, a week later, it’ll become available when the PS5 does, in the less fortunate countries.

That’s a lot of ways to play Watch Dogs Legion and, in practice, will mean a lot of different experiences between the generations. (Yeah, we’ve got a lot of that to look forward to over the next couple of years.)

The experience is not too dissimilar to PC gaming, where the performance any individual will receive is dependent on what hardware they have. Thankfully, Ubisoft has done a thoroughly comprehensive job of breaking down the Watch Dogs Legion system requirements based on target resolutions and settings. There’s even a section on Ray Tracing, a feature (currently) only available on Nvidia’s RTX series of cards.

But what are the Watch Dogs Legion system requirements?

Watch Dogs Legion system requirements

1080p / Low Settings

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 / AMD Ryzen 5 1400
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R9 290X
  • VRAM: 4 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 45 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

1080p / High Settings

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 / AMD Ryzen 5 1600
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480
  • VRAM: 6 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB (Dual-channel setup)
  • Storage: 45 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

1440p / High Settings

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K / AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060S or AMD Radeon RX 5700
  • VRAM: 8GB
  • RAM: 16 GB (Dual-channel setup)
  • Storage: 45 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

4K / Ultra Settings

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K / AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti or AMD Radeon VII
  • VRAM: 11 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB (Dual-channel setup)
  • Storage: 45 GB (+ 20 GB HD Textures Pack)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

1080p / High Settings (with Ray Tracing)

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-9600K / AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070
  • VRAM: 8 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB (Dual-channel setup)
  • Storage: 45 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

4K / Ultra Settings (with Ray Tracing)

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K / AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
  • VRAM: 11 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB (Dual-channel setup)
  • Storage: 45GB (+20 GB HD Textures Pack)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (x64)

Pre-order Watch Dogs Legion on Amazon, or shop for Nvidia RTX-series graphics cards if your system needs a boost.

We may receive a small commission on purchases made from online stores.

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Guides

Where are the secret tapes in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2?

Finding all the Secret Tapes in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 doesn’t have to be as difficult as finding an IRL VHS in 2020.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes Guide
Activision / Thumbsticks

Finding all the Secret Tapes in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 doesn’t have to be as difficult as finding an IRL VHS in 2020.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is good. We have a review that says just that. Here’s a different review, if you need a second opinion. See? It’s good.

Additionally, you can find an in-depth feature on the impact the soundtrack had for the featured bands here. If you want to find every tape from the first game, click here. But if you’re looking for the tapes from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 read on.

Hangar

From the starting ramp, skate down into the section with the half-pipe and plane. Use the ramp on the far left to enter the area with the helicopter. Then, use the ramp to boost onto the helicopter and grind along its blades. This will cause the helicopter to take off, crashing through the wall and out of the hangar. Make the same exit, to find the Secret Tape suspended above the furthest ramp, which you can easily boost off to reach it.

School II

This one is a little more difficult. From the start, skate to the right and down the hallway to enter the courtyard. Skate forward to find a section with planters leading into ramps. Build up your special meter to gain speed, then boost off the leftmost ramp to get onto the awning. Wallride into a grind to access the rooftop, then make a hard stop. From here, you should see a ramp which you can ride off to reach a tape. But, be sure to line up your jump before you go or you may have to do this section all over again.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 school

New York

This one is pretty easy if you know what to do. (And a little tricky if your brightness settings are on the darker side.)

From the start, skate straight ahead until you see a pipe leaning against a fence. Grind up the pipe to reach New York’s second major area. Once you’re in, skate up the spiralling concrete ramp where you’ll see metal pipes leading most of the way to a floating Secret Tape. The trick here is to Ollie from the first pipe early and lean hard to the left to land on a second pipe which curves inward. Maintain your balance and you’ll easily get the tape.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 New York

Venice

This tape is deceptively easy to get. Skate forward from the start and look for the ramp above. Build up your special to gain some speed, then boost off the ramp, land, skate back toward the second table on the left. Ramp off it and you can pretty easily grab the tape.

Philadelphia

This one is straightforward. The Secret Tape is floating above the fountain on a wire. Follow the wire to its source, on an elevated planter nearby. Ollie up to the grass, then grind along the wire to grab the tape. If you keep going you can get the Vicarious Visions V, as well.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Philadelphia

Missed our guide on the secret tape locations from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1? We’ve got a guide for that, too.

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Guides

Where are the secret tapes in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1?

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 brings back those pesky Secret Tapes. Here’s where to find them.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes Guide
Activision / Thumbsticks

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 brings back those pesky Secret Tapes. Here’s where to find them.

The Tony Hawk games were always just really good 3D platformers — check out this video of Mario grinding all over Bo- Omb Battlefield if you don’t believe me. And, because they’re 3D platformers, each level has a ton of collectables hidden in hard-to-reach places. And in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, none is quite as elusive as the Secret Tape.

These glowing VHS tapes show up in every level, save the competitive stages like Burnside and Skate Park. If you’re anything like me, you’ll often see a tape and have no idea how to reach it. This guide is for you.

This article details how to find each tape in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. We’ll have a separate guide for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 later this week.

Warehouse

From the starting section, take the right ramp down into the more open area below. Here, you’ll see a half-pipe with a glassed-in room jutting out from the wall above. Build up speed until you can jump to the glassed-in room – this is easier if you’ve upgraded your skater’s speed stats – where you’ll find this level’s secret tape.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes

School

From your start position on the green awning, drop down and to the right. From here, you’ll see a concrete ramp leading to the roof of the school. Skate up there, then turn around and skate back toward the other side of the roof. You’ll see a pipe leading diagonally from the roof to the other green awning. Grind down it, or transfer from the ramp, to reach the awning. Skate it until it ends, then jump to grab the secret tape.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes

Mall

After manoeuvring around the twisty ramps at the beginning of the level, emerge into the main mall. Skate straight ahead until you reach the ramp overlooking the two sets of pipes – one on the ground and one suspended from the ceiling. Grind along the top set of pipes until you reach the tape at the end.

Downtown

Skate out of the alley where the level begins, then turn right and head up toward the movie theatre. From here, you should see a semi-truck with a bed that’s suspiciously ramp-like. Roll up the ramp and through the glass then follow the hallway across the sky bridge to the rooftops. Here, you’ll find a wooden pool with gaps in the sides that provide a ramp across the street to other buildings. You want to use the one that’s on your left as you enter the pool.

But, before you make the jump, you’ll need to build up some speed. This will be easier if you’ve levelled up your skater’s speed, ollie and hangtime stats. Once you’ve built enough speed, make the jump to the rooftop across the street where you’ll find the secret tape.

Downhill Jam

This is one of the trickier secret tapes to get. That is, at least for me, who has fallen while attempting the gap dozens, if not hundreds, of times.

That said, here’s how you (theoretically) do it. From the start, skate until you reach the diagonal pipe immediately before the halfpipe. Grind up it, then skate down the incline on the right side of the halfpipe until you reach another pipe. Grind across, then jump the gap. From here, you should be able to see the secret tape in the centre of the toilet bowl. Circle around, then jump onto the platform where the tape rests.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes

Streets

From the start position, skate down the brick path to the pair of buildings that separate the street from the fountain. Use the ramp to boost up toward the roof, then grind along the roof when you reach the proper height. Immediately stop and turn around, then follow the ramp until you reach the top of the building. Here, you’ll find a large wooden ramp overlooking a squat building with a glass roof. Ramp off, and break through the glass to earn Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’s final secret tape.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Secret Tapes

Okay. Now that you’ve acquired every tape, check out Tom’s feature on the bands that defined the series’ iconic soundtracks. And for more on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 check back in later this week for our full review.

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Guides

What are the Horizon Zero Dawn system requirements?

Now that Horizon Zero Dawn has made the trip from PS4 exclusive to PC, you’ll need to know if your machine can handle it.

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horizon zero dawn system requirements
Guerrilla Games

Now that Horizon Zero Dawn has made the trip from PS4 exclusive to PC, you’ll need to know if your machine can handle it.

Rumours swirled for a long time before Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC release was officially announced. The fact that Death Stranding – which uses the Decima Engine developed for Horizon Zero Dawn – was announced (and subsequently released) for PC seemed to only add fuel to that fire.

Then, earlier this year, Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC release was confirmed by Sony.

The release window we were given at the time was “summer 2020” which was, after a time, narrowed down to August 7, 2020. That’s just two days away. But if you’re thinking of picking it up for PC, you’re going to need to know if your machine can handle it.

Minimum Horizon Zero Dawn system requirements

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core [email protected] or AMD FX [email protected]
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100 GB available space

Recommended Horizon Zero Dawn system requirements

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core [email protected] or Ryzen 5 [email protected]
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100 GB available space

All told, those aren’t too onerous, but we don’t know what the target resolutions and frame rates are for the “minimum” and “recommended” specs.

And it is a sign of the times that even the minimum Horizon Zero Dawn system requirements require at least 3 or 4GB of VRAM on your graphics card. That rules out a bunch of lower-end systems and cut-down, mobile graphics cards. The requirement for DirectX 12 will also automatically exclude some older, lower-end systems that might otherwise get close to the specs.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Features

Every licensed song and cover on The Last of Us Part II soundtrack

Here’s every real-life song – original, licensed recording or cast-recorded cover – featured on The Last of Us Part II soundtrack.

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licensed songs covers the last of us part ii soundtrack
Naughty Dog

Here’s every real-life song – original, licensed recording or cast-recorded cover – featured on The Last of Us Part II soundtrack.

The Last of Us Part II must’ve been a licensing nightmare. There’s that official Taylor 314ce guitar, for one thing, before we even get to the tunes. And we’ve already seen how rights expiry can disappear games from sale, so when Naughty Dog told Sony’s licensing team they wanted Pearl Jam and a-ha (among others) on the soundtrack? That was probably not a popular decision.

But in addition to Gustavo Santaolalla’s original score, there are a whole bunch of licensed songs that made it onto the Last of Us Part II’s soundtrack. (We only wonder what didn’t make the cut, given some of the massive names that did. Let us know if you didn’t get any songs you pushed for, Neil.)

Some of the licensed songs on The Last of Us Part II soundtrack are the original versions, played as background or incidental music. Others are covers, played in part or in full by characters in the game. What’s really neat is that the voice actors behind Ellie and Joel, Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker respectively, played guitar and sang the vocals in the motion capture studio. There’s no sneaky session musicians or dubbing going on here.

So, here’s the full list of every licensed song and cover on The Last of Us Part II soundtrack.

Spoiler warning: This article will contain general location, character and story spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.

Through the Valley – Shawn James (original recording)

It’s super quiet and difficult to make out, but Ellie listens to this on a Walkman in a flashback scene right before Joel gifts her the guitar.

Bonus: This is also the song that Ellie sings while playing the guitar on the trailer for the game from the PlayStation Experience event in 2016.

Future Days – Pearl Jam (covered by Joel, Ellie)

Here’s an interesting one. You first hear Joel playing Future Days for Ellie as he gifts her that beautiful Taylor guitar, then throughout the game, you’ll hear snippets of it, played by Ellie. It includes the lyrics “if I ever were to lose you, I’d surely lose myself” which is thematically appropriate for The Last of Us Part II. So far, so sensible.

But did you know that Future Days appears on Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt album, which was released on October 11, 2013? That’s interesting because “outbreak day” – when the Cordyceps brain infection struck – happens on September 27, 2013. So in the fictional universe of The Last of Us, Pearl Jam never actually got to release Lightning Bolt.

So how does Joel know a song that was never released? Game director Neil Druckmann has the answer:

I mean, sure, it sounds a little like a retcon, but it technically works.

Bonus: There’s a poster for Pearl Jam’s Lighting Bolt in the music store Ellie visits with Dina in Seattle.

Take on Me – a-ha (covered by Ellie)

In a game filled with violence (spoiler warning on that article) and the bleakest parts of the human character, there are a few small moments of light. They’re pretty few and far, and they decrease as the game goes on, but one of the nicest comes just after Ellie and Dina arrive in Seattle.

In the aforementioned guitar shop, Ellie finds an acoustic guitar that’s locked away inside a hard shell flight case. She pops open the case, tunes the guitar, and sings a song for Dina. That song? It’s a beautiful acoustic rendition of 80s pop anthem Take on Me, by Norwegian synth heroes a-ha.

For a game that’s split the discourse so heavily, it probably speaks volumes that this – a hands-off cut scene, of characters having a pleasant singalong – is my favourite bit of the game.

Hydrogen – M|O|O|N (Hotline Miami soundtrack)

When Ellie is looking for Nora at the hospital, she happens upon a member of the WLF who is playing on her PS Vita. Ellie interrogates the girl at knifepoint and, ultimately, kills her when she fights back. But the game she’s playing? It’s hyper-violent shooter Hotline Miami. (A game that asks, “do you like hurting other people?” which can’t be a coincidence, given The Last of Us Part II’s themes.)

But the song that’s playing is the thing, here, and that tune is Hydrogen by M|O|O|N.

It Was a Good Day – Ice Cube (original recording)

This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Ice Cube, but you can hear this classic tune playing in the WLF hospital as Ellie listens in on Nora being questioned by other WLF soldiers looking for Abby.

The Winding Sheet – Mark Lanegan (original recording)

The brilliant Mark Lanegan – vocalist for Screaming Trees and latterly with Queens of the Stone Age – released his first solo album, The Winding Sheet, in 1990. The title track from that album appears on the soundtrack for The Last of Us Part II. You’ll hear it on the boombox at Owen’s aquarium.

Christmas Wish – Roberts, Fletcher, Sturrock (original recording)

This modern Christmas tune is playing during one of Abby’s flashbacks at the aquarium with Owen.

Rock Around the Christmas Tree – Fiddy, Burdson (original recording)

Another Christmas tune from the aquarium flashback at Christmas.

Ecstasy – Crooked Still (covered by Ellie)

Ellie plays this one as part of one of the guitar minigames when she’s having trouble sleeping, at the farm with Dina and JJ.

Little Sadie – Crooked Still (original recording?)

This is the song that’s playing at the dance, during the flashback where Ellie and Dina kiss for the first time.

(We’ve put this down as “original recording?” with a big question mark because it’s not clear if the performance in the game is supposed to be just the original record, played over a PA system, or if it’s supposed to be a “live” band at the party.)

Ain’t No Grave – Crooked Still (original recording)

This is the song Ellie puts on with JJ when Dina requests some tunes to wash up to. Or, more specifically, this is the track on the B-side of the LP, where Ellie starts the needle. The album is Crooked Still’s Shaken By a Low Sound from 2006, and Ain’t No Grave is the seventh song on the record.

But what’s interesting is that a bunch of other Crooked Still tunes crop up in the game’s credits, but this appears to be the last time we hear them. So where are they, exactly? If you go and dance with Dina straight away, they’ll move to the backyard to hang out laundry and the music will end. But if you don’t interact with Dina immediately, you’ll also hear…

Ecstasy – Crooked Still (original recording)

The eighth track on Crooked Still’s Shaken By a Low Sound.

Mountain Jumper – Crooked Still (original recording)

Track number nine on Shaken By a Low Sound.

Railroad Bill – Crooked Still (original recording)

Track ten on Shaken By a Low Sound by Crooked Still.

Wind and Rain – Crooked Still (original recording)

The final track on Crooked Still’s Shaken By a Low Sound.

Young Men Dead – The Black Angels (original recording)

You’ll hear this one playing on a stereo as you battle the Rattlers in Santa Barbara.

Helplessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills & Nash (covered by Joel)

This is a tricky one because it’s not in the game’s credits. Presumably, the snippet of fingerpicking is so short and with Joel not singing any of the lyrics, licensing wasn’t a concern. But in the game’s final flashback between Joel and Ellie, Helplessly Hoping is the song you hear him playing on his front porch when Ellie disturbs him.

Unknown – Unknown (covered by Ellie)

The final song that Ellie plays – or, at least, attempts to play – in The Last of Us Part II is pretty unrecognisable. She lost two fingers on her left hand in the final fight with Abby and can no longer form those chords.

It’s a safe bet that it’s probably Future Days by Pearl Jam, given the chord progression Ellie’s trying to follow and the song’s significance to the story, but it’s hard to say for sure. (And that’s exactly the point, right?)

Wayfaring Stranger – Johnny Cash (covered by Ellie and Joel)

This is the song that plays for the final few minutes of the credits for The Last of Us Part II. But don’t give up that easy – there’s still a post-credits surprise (of sorts) after the end of the trailer.

Bonus: True Faith – New Order (covered by Ellie)

This is the song that Ellie plays on the TV spot for The Last of Us Part II.

It’s also something that Naughty Dog got into trouble over, because it’s very clearly inspired by (if not directly copied from) Lotte Kestner’s 2011 arrangement of the New Order classic.


Forgotten what happened in the original The Last of Us? You’ll want to read our comprehensive story recap. Found this guide useful? Please consider supporting Thumbsticks or buying us a coffee to say thanks.

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