— The Game Awards (@thegameawards) December 11, 2020
On Thursday night The Game Awards 2020 was host to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder as he performed performed ‘Future Days,’ which was featured in the game The Last of Us Part II.
Eddie Vedder is known for a lot of things, but for video-game aficionados, he’s now that guy who wrote that song in their favorite game.
The Last of Us Part II follows Joel and Ellie‘s journey to find a cure for a viral outbreak – a story a little too real for 2020, we know- that covers its victims in fungal growth and turns them into ostensible zombies. Their apocalyptic world of kill-or-be-killed is punctuated with tender, human moments, including Joel singing Future Days to his daughter-figure Ellie.
Joel, a staunchly stoic person, over time opens up to Ellie’s character and eventually teaches her how to play guitar, connecting them forever with music. The game, whose soundtrack is mostly terribly somber bare-bones folk guitar and mandolin, sought to use Future Days not only for its lyrical significance to the characters’ relationship, but also from its matching acoustic aesthetics.
Director Neil Druckmann used the song in a secret ending in the first installment of the game and was determined to have it featured in the sequel, which was labeled as a non-starter by his company’s legal team. Druckmann eventually flew to Vedder’s home town of Seattle, also the location for the majority of the game’s plot, to meet him personally and convince him to let them use the rights to the song. Vedder expressed his joy with the decision over a live stream performance of the now-essential track.
“I really appreciate the way it was used [in the game],” said Vedder. “Especially bringing Joel and Ellie together, connecting through music. I thought it was cool too if it made you want to perhaps pick up a guitar yourself and write a song for your loved one.”
The game even has you pluck a few of the first notes of the song on your controller before it takes over with a pre-rendered cinematic of Joel covering the song. Ellie’s character even plays the song several times throughout the game when she’s missing Joel.
The Last of Us Part II won Game of the Year at this year’s awards and sold 4 million copies globally in its first weekend. Since its June release, the game has already become one of the fastest-selling games ever.