In a move that disappointed many anxious apocalypse survivors, Naughty Dog and PlayStation announced that The Last of Us 2 had been delayed to May as opposed to its original February release date. While a game delay does mean that players will have to wait a few extra months to finally get their hands on the game, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's a decision made for the best for The Last of Us 2.
Flashback to February 2013, a few months before the original Last of Us released. While the game had originally been planned for a launch in early May, it was pushed back to June to give Naughty Dog enough time to ensure that the final product met its high standards, which proved to be a smart move. The Last of Us released to both critical and commercial success, earning a 95 on Metacritic and getting a next-gen remaster for the PlayStation 4. Had Naughty Dog not delayed The Last of Us, history may have remembered it very differently. It's possible that The Last of Us would've launched as a buggy mess, becoming much less of an icon than it is now, as one of PlayStation's most popular franchises.
Fast-forward back to now, hot on the heels of The Last of Us 2's delay. Some fans are upset, as the game's release date had only been announced a few weeks prior along with a story trailer. It seems like it may have been wiser to wait just a bit longer to reveal any release date rather than just moving it. That is a valid point, but game development is fickle, to say the least. There's a very good chance that everything was on track until just a few days before the delay was announced, with a major bug or broken game segment likely being discovered. Neil Druckman, The Last of Us 2's director, said that the delay was necessary, as the studio, "simply didn't have time."
Naughty Dog has reportedly battled with crunch culture, and pushing the game back a little bit will not only help make for a better product overall, but will help reduce the human cost inherent in creating a triple-a video game. Giving creators more time to work on a project is never a bad thing. People do better work when there's less pressure to hit a tight deadline, or when they aren't fatigued. Last of Us 2's delay means that Naughty Dog is learning, or at least is hopefully learning, a lesson about crunch culture and how it can affect a game.
A May release date may also be a good way to separate itself from some of the competition early next year, too. Cyberpunk 2077 is set to release in April, a month before The Last of Us, and DOOM Eternal a month before that in March. A later release date gives The Last of Us a better barrier from some of next year's biggest games. Plus, a later release date may mean it has a better chance of being remembered when awards season comes rolling around. Picking up a Game of The Year award is always a positive bit of press for a game to slap on its cover.
The Last of Us 2 is going to be much bigger than the original, so the extra time to polish will, undoubtedly, make for a much better experience. If Naughty Dog does have any aspirations of making it a Game of The Year contender, which it undoubtedly does, it'll need all the extra time it can get to ensure a smooth product at launch. The story of Ellie and Joel is touching, to say the least, but fans now have great expectations for the franchise. Expectations that will only be met if the game is given a little bit longer to bake.
Fans should have faith that Naughty Dog will deliver a good game when The Last of Us 2 releases. So far, the company has been responsible for some of the best PlayStation exclusive games of the generation. The team is talented, having crafted what are arguably some of the best games of all time. Fans may have to be a little bit more patient before they can actually play The Last of Us 2, but that patience will likely be rewarded with a wonderful gameplay and narrative experience.
The Last of Us 2 is expected to release on May 29, 2020, for PS4.