Last forever

Last of Us 2 almost had multiplayer. Here's why it hasn't happened — yet.

Could a free multiplayer standalone game be in our future?

After players make it through The Last of Us Part II's lengthy campaign, there's a New Game+ option waiting for them. In case that doesn't scratch your itch for more post-apocalyptic combat, it's worth noting that while there probably won't be any DLC coming to the game, there's still a chance that multiplayer could be on the horizons.

Here's everything we know about a rumored multiplayer mode for Last of Us 2.

When is The Last of Us 2 multiplayer release date?

According to a 2018 E3 interview, a multiplayer mode based on Factions (the first game's multiplayer mode) was slated to launch alongside Last of Us 2. This idea was then walked back in September 2019 when Naughty Dog tweeted out a statement saying, "As development began on the evolution of our Factions mode from The Last of Us Part I, the vision of the team grew beyond an additional mode that could be included with our enormous single-player campaign."

Later in the statement, the developer re-affirmed that Last of Us 2 's multiplayer team would have their work published at some point, but couldn't give further details. Even without those details, Naughty Dog's previous work allows us to speculate a possible release timeline as to when we could see the multiplayer.

Naughty Dog/ Sony

We know that the upcoming multiplayer has been in the works since at least 2018 when Naughty Dog made the aforementioned announcement. We can also assume that, provided it maintains a Last of Us branding, the multiplayer will re-use assets from Last of Us 2.

Naughty Dog often reuses assets from its base games and DLC for multiplayer. Both Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Last of Us: Left Behind began development after the base game had been released. It took roughly 6 to 12 months from ideation to release. The multiplayer has been in development since at least 2018, so we should see a final product rather soon.

With PlayStation's release schedule in mind, we'll likely hear about the multiplayer in mid-July 2020. Then the actual multiplayer release could be in August 2020. This timing would also ensure that that the Last of Us doesn't steal thunder from the July exclusive, Ghost of Tsushima.

Will Last of Us 2 multiplayer be an add-on or standalone game?

According to the comments made when the multiplayer was initially removed from Last of Us 2's release, the planned multiplayer is huge. It will likely be a free-to-play standalone title. Naughty Dog has previously separated their single-player games from corresponding multiplayer experiences.

Uncharted 3's multiplayer was available as a free-to-play game on PlayStation 3. There was a rumor prior to release of Uncharted 4 that the same would happen for that title. Naughty Dog instead packaged the new multiplayer with both the original Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy.

It's also worth noting that the multiplayer economy that came packaged with the first Last of Us was fueled by microtransactions, and this one will likely be as well.

Naughty Dog/ Sony

Other recent games have successfully made this split, like Resident Evil 3.

Making it a standalone would also tie in with Game Director Neil Druckmann's own comments. Druckmann has referred to multiplayer as "its own game, its own experience." In that same thought, he said that multiplayer would chase after the same themes as Last of Us 2, while involving as many players as possible.

Will Last of Us 2 multiplayer still have Factions?

Factions, the initial Last of Us multiplayer, divided players into Hunters and Fireflies, the two factions that you battled in the single-player mode. The statement made delaying the multiplayer referred to the Last of Us 2 multiplayer as "the evolution of our Factions mode from The Last of Us Part I." This implies that it still resembles the first factions mode. Additionally, the supposed folks awaiting a multiplayer mode were referred to as the "Factions community," further implying that factions will continue being a key part of the game.

Reflecting Druckmann's mandate to ape Last of Us 2's single-player themes and the previous multiplayer, it's likely that players will be divided into Seraphites and WLF for multiplayer. We don't know how they'll manifest in the actual multiplayer this time around. Last of Us Part I's multiplayer was effective when connected to your Facebook account because it made the player directly responsible for the lives of their friends. Last of Us 2 is themed around revenge, we might see something dealing with that in the multiplayer.

Last of Us 2 is currently available for PS4.

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