The Last of Us 2’s mulitplayer mode has evolved into what will almost certainly be one of Sony’s live service games. The title – which clearly expands far beyond the SOCOM-style deathmatch encounters of the original – is described as an “extremely ambitious undertaking” on the PS Blog. In fact, developer Naughty Dog has been growing to support the project. Co-president Neil Druckmann confirmed during Summer Game Fest that the first-party studio is working on more simultaneous titles than ever before.
The standalone multiplayer game – which doesn’t have a name yet – is “much larger than a mode”. Senior manager of communications Rochelle Snyder expanded: “We’re growing our studio significantly to ensure we build this full-scale, standalone game, with its massive scope and immense world, in a way that fans have come to expect from The Last of Us and Naughty Dog.” A single piece of concept art appears to confirm that the action will take place in San Francisco, as the iconic Golden Gate Bridge can be spotted in the background.
The wording seems to imply that you’ll be able to explore a large chunk of the city, suggesting this will be an open world-style experience, as opposed to segmented maps. Some have spotted a cloud of dust in the concept art, which could either be a sandstorm or potentially some kind of spores. Obviously this would fit the Battle Royale model, as you could have said cloud closing in on players as rounds progress.
Others think that this may be an Escape from Tarkov-type experience, where you need to work together in a shared world to reach an extraction point – or it could even be like RUST, where you have to scavenge for supplies, build camps, and survive in hostile environments. Whatever the case, there’ll be a storyline, as director Vinit Agarwal has described the game as a “cinematic experience between players” before.
Speaking on a livestream yesterday, industry know-it-all Jeff Grubb mentioned that Naughty Dog is taking the time to build a ton of systems that will help with future expansion into the game. He alluded that the map may be modular, meaning parts of it could potentially be swapped in and out as seasons change to keep the action fresh. This is something we see in Fortnite regularly, where the island constantly evolves to introduce new areas and points of interest. It’s likely Bungie will be consulted on the project as soon as PlayStation’s acquisition closes.
Druckmann didn’t elaborate much on the gameplay loop at Summer Game Fest, but he did say the project is as “big as any of our single player games”. He said: “The game’s got a story and the way we’re telling that story is very unique. It’s got a brand new cast of characters. It’s very cool. You’re going to see a lot more of this game come next year.”
The wait goes on.