For about a week (at the time of this writing), we've known that Game Informer would be featuring Naughty Dog's next triple-A video game release, The Last of Us, on the cover of its March issue.
Now, with the issue nearing newsstands, and the unveiling of fresh Last of Us images, we're also getting new details from the magazine spread regarding what players can expect from the story as well as the rumored (now confirmed) online play.
Speaking with Game Informer, director Bruce Straley, clarified that Naughty Dog will be including an online component; however, he didn't elaborate too much on what players might be able to expect:
“We’re going to have some sort of online component. We’re working on a bunch of ideas, but we haven’t nailed anything down. We definitely know it’s going to be awesome.”
At least Straley was willing to confirm that the online play will be "awesome." But what should players actually expect from the online offering? Based on the partner mechanics demonstrated in The Last of Us announcement trailer, co-op seemed like no-brainer. However, following a revelation that Ellie (the Ellen Page lookalike in The Last of Us trailer) is not playable and will instead be controlled by highly-advanced AI routines, many would-be fans began to mourn the loss of a potential full-fledged co-op adventure. It's still possible that Naughty Dog could eventually reveal Ellie is playable in co-op after all and that rich AI is simply being put to work in service of single player adventurers who need to go it alone (it wouldn't be the first time a game company flat-out denies a feature that would be revealed at a later time).
As a result, assuming the developers are telling the truth, it's unclear at this point what type of online offering we'll see when the game launches. Could the game feature a Dark Souls-like mechanic where players can hijack each other or leave helpful (or hurtful) notes in the world? Of course, while it wouldn't be nearly as "awesome" or, at the very least, all that innovative, Resident Evil's "The Mercenaries" horde-style gameplay might also make sense - depending on how the actual "infected" encounters work in the game.
Creative director, Neil Druckmann, also commented on both the focus of the story (short version: it's about humans not the infected) - as well as whether or not a second Last of Us title is all but assured by a cliff-hanger or open-ended ending:
"The story is self-contained. The story stands on its own. We don’t end on a cliffhanger. The characters and the journey they go through ends with this story.”
That said, given the lengthy development time, coupled with the studio's blockbuster reputation and the multi-faceted Last of Us world, mysteries, and core storyline, it's hard to imagine (even at this point) that Naughty Dog is simply prepping a one-shot title that will simply conclude in a single shot.
Of course, it's too early to be certain at this point - considering the countless details that have yet to be revealed and, based on Staley's comments, are still in development flux.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.
Source: Game Informer [via VG247]