Since The Last of Us was first announced during the SpikeTV Video Game Awards in December of 2011, details have been steadily trickling in via various tweets and releases by the game’s developers at Naughty Dog. None of those details have yielded any information about a multiplayer mode, content that wasn’t even confirmed until a year after the initial reveal.
All parties involved have been strangely silent when it comes to exactly what that or those modes would entail. Would it be a competitive evolution of their famed Uncharted multiplayer? Would it be a full on campaign with more than one human controlling the characters? Would it be something else?
“Something else” seems to be the case as Naughty Dog Lead Artist Nate Wells tweeted yesterday, “I wish I could appropriately prepare you people for [The Last of Us]. But even if I were allowed to, I can’t. And I really can’t prepare you for the best [multiplayer] ever conceived.”
With the limited information available, it is anyone’s guess what his words mean. Well, besides the obvious “it’s gonna be awesome” that any member of a development team should think and relay publicly. Deeper than that, though, it truly seems as if this multiplayer is going to stand apart from anything we’ve ever seen. Potential overhype notwithstanding, curiosity has been piqued across the internet and it is still anyone’s guess what his comments will entail.
One hint might come from a likely place. Uncharted 3 began its own cooperatively playable multiplayer adventure, an alternate universe of sorts for the series’ storyline. But the real treasure (pun intended) was its gameplay. Beyond simply resurrecting your teammates, advancing through the five main chapters and one downloadable chapter on the harder difficulty settings required an organized approach. Okay, sometimes a pro who has completed these story missions hundreds of times could carry some less-experienced players through, but generally speaking your approach had to be and careful. The way 3 players interacted in their gameplay had a heavy emphasis on proceeding to the next battle or section.
This isn’t anything new in co-op modes at face value. The interactions and use of boosters and weapon pickups were a huge part of the experience, notions also present in other games. But it felt as if this could be the basis for something bigger in the future.
Enter The Last of Us, a game that by all accounts appears to be tailor made for strategic co-op. Main characters Joel and Ellie interact constantly throughout all of the cutscenes and gameplay footage we’ve seen. On top of that, enemies seem to interact in such a way as to promote their own teamwork. Granted, AI governs their actions, but potential for controlling those groups of infected and even the paranoid survivors seems ever present.
Perhaps it is a reach to ascertain a potential co-op mode or even a fully developed one. Perhaps it is wishful thinking. Perhaps both. The signs are there, however, and if anyone can pull off a co-op mode to redefine the term, Naughty Dog certainly has the track record, at least in the sense that they have already made quite a unique and fluid multiplayer in the Uncharted games.
Boosters and Team Bonus perks were mentioned in a NeoGAF post by an apparently respectable member who did the same, accurately, for Uncharted 3′s multiplayer demo. In theory, all of the listed upgrades point to multiple players on a “team” and could also allude to competitive play. Imagine the allegedly leaked perks and boosters such as Combo Boost where players would “start with a larger combo multiplier” or various allusions to “listen mode,” an ability apparently linked to seeing through walls via being able to listen to movement. These things would fit a co-op mode quite well and these types of boosters seem to separate from other “Team Boosters” which is a much smaller list. Again this is all speculation mixed with a hopeful mind, but it would make a ton of sense.
I, personally, have thought that we’d see Nathan Drake’s creators come up with some kind of epic co-op mode with the same depth that hero and his friends and foes experienced in their online adventure since I first played it. I also believe such a mod would garner massive success and perhaps share in Drake’s fortune. Co-op is an area of gaming that has been lightly touched upon by many developers but has not seen its potential fully realized. Is The Last of Us going to be the game that breaks the mold?
Today, Naughty Dog Co-president Christophe Balestra confirmed that the game has gone gold and yet still no further information on the multiplayer has been unveiled. God of War: Ascension owners will have access to a demo for The Last of Us on May 31st and that too is shrouded in mystery. Supposedly it is a new experience, not yet seen in trailers or official footage. An original take on co-op would fit this secrecy formidably. Or maybe it’s just a portion of the campaign. So much speculation. The fungal apocalypse draws near and in mere weeks we’ll discover if the above is prophetic or simply the ramblings of a mad man.