The closure of The Last of Us PlayStation 3 multiplayer servers earlier this month felt the end an era, a bittersweet conclusion to a six-year run that’s fondly remembered as among the most iconic from the previous generation.
With the PlayStation 4 servers still going strong to this day and promises from Naughty Dog as recently as last year’s E3 that the sequel, The Last of Us Part II, would revive the acclaimed Factions multiplayer component, it was framed as a necessary inconvenience required to make space for the future.
That future may not be what we expected with Naughty Dog announcing earlier this week that The Last of Us Part II would be an exclusively single-player experience, devoid of multiplayer.
Naughty Dog has rustled some feathers among fans of the original. Players praised the Factions mode for a unique take on the tired death match format through the incorporation of familiar settings from single-player, a strong narrative, and a novel twelve-week game cycle that imbued multiplayer with a sense of collective struggle as players fought in unforgiving skill-based PvP skirmishes to secure supplies for their respective clans.
As the news spread, the backlash gathered steam with impassioned reactions ranging from disappointment to the Internet’s familiar flavor of righteous dismay emanating from The Last of Us community. It even spawned a petition.
The noise grew to such deafening levels that Naughty Dog felt compelled to provide clarification on the matter, authoring the following tweet late last night;
As the statement reads, Naughty Dog has ambitions for a multiplayer component; it simply won’t form part of the game slated for release next February.
Nevertheless, Naughty Dog’s attempt at damage limitation bred its own share of outcry.
As for the shape it will take, a trimmed down multiplayer-only standalone game of the ilk of Uncharted: Lost Legacy may provide some answers – firmly set in The Last of Us universe, but detached entirely from the single-player campaign. Of course, this is pure conjecture and the will-it-won’t-it see-sawing leads to confusion as to Naughty Dog’s ultimate plans.
Moreover, it begs questions as to why the press was forced to wrestle the news from Naughty Dog, rather than taking responsibility for the decision and sharing the news framed in a narrative that would make the hit more palatable for players expecting a Factions mode at launch.
Fortunately, as Naughty Dog says The Last of Us Part II is their most ambitious game to date so despite having to wait longer for multiplayer, we’ve got plenty to look forward to.