Fans looking forward to the launch of The Last of Us are most likely anticipating another singleplayer campaign on par with Naughty Dog‘s high standards, but that doesn’t mean the studio won’t also be taking a big step forward on the multiplayer front. After online multiplayer was added to the Uncharted series (and proved many fan concerns wrong) The Last of Us looks to be taking immersion to even greater lengths.
New details of the game’s many competitive modes have found their way online, but rumors of a sprawling, persistent online world requiring players to team up and survive for the long haul have also appeared. It may be too soon to state whether Naughty Dog will achieve their goal in releasing “the best multiplayer ever conceived” – on consoles, anyway – but we might know how they plan to do it.
The developer promised a multiplayer reveal soon, and they have delivered, as several sites have now posted impressions and details on the new online modes. For starters, we’ll being with what we know: the online game modes that Naughty Dog is talking about are Survivors and Factions. Factions is built around both Supply Raids and Survival Raids, pitting two teams of players against one another (Hunters or Fireflies) to either gather supplies (Supply) or reach a target kill count (Survival) while infiltrating a hostile base.
Since the target supplies are placed in the open, and both teams start with very little ammo, it’s a race against the clock to craft weapons from scavenged loot and work as a team to minimize vulnerability once the fighting breaks out entirely. And going by the newest screenshots, fighting will most certainly be breaking out:
Survivors Mode seems to carry a bit more persistence, throwing two teams against on another in a best-of-7 round format. If someone from your team is the last left standing when the round ends four times out of the seven, the supplies are yours, and the match ends. Players have the opportunity to earn special experience for their character by completed side tasks within each round, including (but not limited to) crafting objects and healing teammates.
Naughty Dog has worked to keep the narrative alive in the online modes as well, allowing downed players to scramble away from executions and back to waiting teammates, and making stealth as important a strategy as all-out combat. The only question remaining is how these modes are included into a larger online world, if at all. Do these matches begin and end with a matchmaking lobby, or are they merely a form of instanced combat between two real-world factions?
Luckily, we may have some answers there. It’s by no means a confirmation that these multiplayer matches are wholly or even partly included in a persistent online world, but bits of information dug up from The Last of Us‘ demo hint at functionality that the developers aren’t yet talking about. The entirety of the data has been posted to Pastebin, but we’ve pulled out a few samples that will give an idea of what Naughty Dog may be crafting:
SURVIVE 12 WEEKS
A small group of Infected have been spotted heading in our direction. Improve the training of the clan to fight off the Infected and attract new members.
You were able to dramatically improve the training of your clan before the Infected attacked. As a result, you gained the maximum new clan members.
Marauders have been raiding camps in the area. Improve the training of the group to fight off the Marauders and attract new members.
Dysentery is spreading rapidly in the area. The [ENEMY-FACTION-PLURAL] have a supply of antibiotics. Improve the training of the group so we can mount an attack and steal it.
Working to find the cure. We need to retrieve some key medical equipment that’s deep in Hunter territory. Stake out a new camp and hold off the Hunters while you search the area and locate the equipment. Extraction team will come in 12 weeks.
These text strings could just be related to the generic match structure, adding narrative on the surface layer. But it’s not hard to see why some now suspect The Last of Us to include some form of persistent online factions (‘Clans’), challenging players to group up, fight off Infected and other human players alike, and increase their ranks and power. Loadout customization and Boosters will also be returning from Uncharted‘s multiplayer, and a lengthy catalogue of clothing and accessories implies characters will also be customizable.
It isn’t hard to see why an online component like that attempted by Red Dead Redemption‘s ‘Posses’ structured around more traditional multiplayer matches could work; whether we’d call that the “greatest multiplayer concept ever” depends largely on the execution. If The Last of Us were releasing on the PlayStation 4 we’d be more inclined to believe these details hinted at a persistent open world akin to DayZ. Then again, Naughty Dog is already thinking potential sequels, so that may be a reality before long.
What do you think of these uncovered tidbits? Has it sent your anticipation for the game through the roof, or is the singleplayer what you’re most looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Last of Us releases June 14, 2013 exclusively for the PS3.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.