The Last of Us Factions Multiplayer PS5 PC PlayStation 1
Image: Push Square

If there was one game we’d have bet our life savings on appearing during last night’s flubbed PS Showcase, it was The Last of Us Factions. Naughty Dog hasn’t actually given us an official name for the project yet, so we’re using the moniker fans tend to recycle the most – but just to be clear, we’re referring to the online standalone spin-off that the studio has in development. This is likely to be the crown jewel of Sony’s live service strategy, and will certainly have a budget many, many times higher than the titles that were announced, like Fairgame$ and Concord – neither of which showed gameplay, by the way.

So, what’s going on? Well, all the way back in 2019 – that’s four years ago, by the way – it confirmed that unlike the original The Last of Us, sequel The Last of Us: Part II would be a single player-only game. It confirmed at the time that the mode had taken on a life of its own, and in order to focus on finishing the core campaign, it had spun off the project as a standalone release. “We are as big a fan of Factions as the rest of our community and are excited to share more when it's ready,” it said at the time.

Fast forward four years, a successful television series, and a complete PS5 and PC remake of the original game, and we’re still none the wiser. In 2020, series creator Neil Druckmann promised the multiplayer game would be “worth the wait” then in 2021 said it wouldn’t show it until “it’s ready”. In 2022 he said it was the developer’s “biggest ever effort” and shared some concept art, promising it’d announce more in 2023. We got a second piece of concept art in January, but we’re now in May, in the aftermath of a major PS Showcase, and we’ve not heard a peep – despite the frequent promise of more info soon.

Naughty Dog hasn’t really touched social media this week, apart from to promote its crossover Destiny 2 skins, and series creator Neil Druckmann hasn’t commented – despite no doubt being inundated with questions. There’s a chance the title could still re-emerge during next month’s Summer Game Fest – that’s where The Last of Us: Part I was announced last year after all – but it’d be strange for Sony to forgo its own event in favour of an independent one. Last year it didn’t host a press conference, so Druckmann’s cameo made more sense in that context.

It’s clear this is an ambitious, unrivalled undertaking – we’re not even sure how Naughty Dog’s going to be able to transition its trademark eye for detail to a title that’ll likely rely on regular content updates. But at some point, the studio’s going to have to stop fobbing us off and show us what it’s got. The developer’s approaching half a decade on this project – it’s had a hand in a critically acclaimed TV show and a blockbuster movie since it was announced – and we’re still no clearer as to when it’s coming out.

The real salt in the wound is that the clearly unfinished Fairgame$ and Concord were considered far enough along to feature during last night’s PS Showcase. Does that mean The Last of Us Factions is even further away than those two?