The Last of Us multiplayer game has reportedly hit a snag, with developer Naughty Dog scaling back the team working on the project. As per Bloomberg, publisher Sony has slowed down work on the long-gestating multiplayer experience, as a means to ‘reassess its quality and long-term viability.’ The news comes briefly after the studio put out a tweet claiming that the game needs more time to cook, in addition to announcing an undisclosed brand-new single-player title. Fans were expecting updates about The Last of Us multiplayer game during the PlayStation Showcase event, held last week, but Naughty Dog was a no-show.
In a blog post from January, Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann claimed that the studio was preparing to reveal more information on The Last of Us multiplayer game, sometime ‘later this year’ — meaning, it probably wasn’t eyeing a launch in 2023. The Bloomberg report notes that while the title has not been cancelled, several of its developers have been reallocated to other projects. Since Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has heavily invested in live-service games — even acquiring Halo and Destiny 2 creator Bungie last year. It brought on the Seattle-based developer to evaluate the game. The report suggests that Bungie raised concerns about The Last of Us multiplayer project’s ability to keep players engaged for long periods. Hence the developmental shake-up.
The Last of Us multiplayer game marks the first project in the post-apocalyptic franchise, where Druckmann isn’t serving as a lead writer or director. “What the team has put together is so cool. It’s very different from what I would do but that’s part of the exciting thing about it, with other people playing in this world,” he said in an interview, back in March. Players will be thrown into a new post-apocalyptic region — presumably San Francisco — with a friend and be forced to experience its ‘brutality,’ combined with a new cast of NPCs and story. It has been in development for at least four years, starting life as a complementary game mode to The Last of Us Part II, after which high ambitions led to its diversion into a standalone affair.
Back in March, Druckmann also confirmed that Naughty Dog had chosen its next game, which is probably the ‘new single-player experience’ mentioned in the tweet. Currently, it’s unclear whether this game is The Last of Us Part III, though a story outline for the same has been written, which Druckmann hopes sees the light of day. It’s also unlikely for the next project to be an Uncharted game since Naughty Dog previously alluded to moving on from the franchise. One thing fans can expect, however, is some influences from Elden Ring — specifically its minimalist storytelling style, which the creator was heavily intrigued by. “To me, right now, that’s some of the best joy I get out of games that trust their audience to figure things out,” Druckmann said in an interview in January. “Games that don’t hold your hand, that’s the stuff I’m really intrigued by going forward.”
Currently, there are no release details for The Last of Us multiplayer game.