You may have heard the argument before that single-player games can’t survive in this multiplayer-heavy world. It’s a fact that the ongoing content of multiplayer games gives developers a way to supply content for a game and its players well past its release, but there are still plenty of single-player experiences that stand on their own as some of the most enjoyable highlights of gaming. Recently, The Last of Us Part 2 developers Naughty Dog made a decision regarding multiplayer with their game. Where the original Last of Us featured an online Factions Mode, The Last of Us 2 will forgo multiplayer entirely at launch in favor of prioritizing the single-player experience. It raises the question: does Last of Us 2 need multiplayer?
The Case for Factions In Last of Us 2
Factions in the original Last of Us was comprehensive in its offering. It gave players the chance to work as a small clan of Fireflies or Hunters, surviving through various weeks of supply gathering, combat, mission completion, and clan growth. Doing well meant growing your clan and upping your capabilities across a span of weeks (each day was the span of a single match in game). By completing matches in their various forms and outdoing the opposing faction, your faction became stronger with supplies scavenged from play.
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The extensive opportunities found in the different modes of Factions gave the first Last of Us a replayability well beyond the confines of the story in both the base game and DLC episodes. Moreover, it worked well in the Scavenge-or-Perish context that had been established in Last of Us’s apocalyptic world. Given the time and opportunity, we’ve no doubt that Naughty Dog would be able to improve upon everything that Factions offered in the first game to create an experience that we could return to over and over after the credits roll on Last of Us Part 2’s main story. It all depends on where priorities lie, which brings us to our next point.
Naughty Dog Is Putting Story First
The above statement from Naughty Dog is their official stance on the matter, and honestly, it makes sense. Factions wasn’t in any way a throwaway mode, but it wasn’t as though everyone was raving about that wild and crazy Last of Us multiplayer mode you just had to play. Don’t get us wrong. We’re well aware that The Last of Us Faction Mode has enthusiastic fans and they were likely disappointed by the announcement that Factions wouldn’t be a part of The Last of Us Part 2, but Naughty Dog has its priorities, and the dedication to what made many players fans of Last of Us in the first place seems rational.
The Last of Us 2 has always looked like an incredibly ambitious project. All Naughty Dog games do, but for over a year, we’ve been seeing what looks like something well beyond even their norm. The storytelling and world building looks strong, and with original protagonist Joel back in the picture as of the September PlayStation State of Play trailer, we’re more intrigued than ever to see where this murky road takes Ellie.
Last of Us Factions Isn’t Out of the Picture
Even with Naughty Dog skipping over Last of Us 2 Multiplayer for launch, it’s important to note the second half of their statement. Their multiplayer efforts are not dead. They’re just on the backburner. The “fruits of our online team’s ambition” as Naughty Dog calls it implies that Last of Us Part 2 multiplayer was in the works in some way or another. The team is shifting all of their resources into the single-player experience, but that’s just what we can expect when The Last of Us 2 launches. After that, it seems pretty apparent that we’ll get Last of Us Factions in some form or another.
Will Naughty Dog shift their vision back towards the multiplayer component and create a new version of Factions as DLC for The Last of Us Part 2? Perhaps we’ll see their multiplayer efforts as a standalone project? It’s hard to say, but one thing is certain: The Last of Us Factions isn’t dead. It’s just on hiatus and waiting for a time when The Last of Us Part 2 is already in our hands and putting us through Ellie and Joel’s next deadly adventure.
Once the spores have cleared and Last of Us 2’s story is settled and done, we’ll undoubtedly want something more to fill our hearts. From the sounds of it, the team that was working on Last of Us Factions will be there soon after to deliver. That said, it seems right for now to let Naughty Dog make the core experience the best that it can be when it launches on February 21, 2020 and catch up on multiplayer later.
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