While Naughty Dog has delayed the multiplayer component of The Last of Us 2, details have now been leaked by an online source.
A YouTube content creator and The Last of Us Part II data miner uncovered new assets within the game’s code, providing insight into the postponed multiplayer component, which is still in development at Naughty Dog. This could mean that multiplayer announcement for the game could be on its way at some point soon. You can check out the video detailing this discovery below:
According to CBR, content creator Speclizer data mined three unused armor models for Ellie in The Last of Us Part II, a possible tease at the game’s postponed but highly anticipated multiplayer mode. These assets were discovered within the game’s code, most likely serving as placeholder models, used during the multiplayer’s development or unfinished versions of armor that would be used in multiplayer once it finally releases. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Speclizer uncovered something related to the game’s multiplayer mode — he also discovered several other multiplayer assets from the game, including a potential battle royale map.
This might be breaking news for The Last of Us Part II fans, but the fact that developers leave assets planned for future use embedded in the game’s code is hardly a novelty. MMO game developers do that all the time, especially with games that have multiple expansions, such as World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy. It’s not uncommon to pre-load a bulk of assets during regular updates over time while the game approaches a more massive update. That way, the game’s assets are already there, just waiting to be used. Or they could just be placeholders, as Speclizer said, waiting to be substituted by an actual asset.
Whatever the case may be, their existence within the game’s existing code indicates that The Last of Us Part II multiplayer was, and quite possibly still is, a real thing. Naughty Dog, the game’s developer, initially planned to incorporate a multiplayer option within the game, similar to its predecessor’s online mode called Factions. Unfortunately, those plans proved too ambitious at the time, and Naughty Dog announced that the development of the game’s multiplayer mode had been put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.
The Last of Us Part II multiplayer is apparently still in development at Naughty Dog, though fans haven’t heard any official news about the project for quite some time. The developer noted that the upcoming multiplayer will release as a standalone offering, completely detached from the game’s core story, actively making it Naughty Dog’s first standalone multiplayer game ever. Unfortunately, since those announcements, Naughty Dog hasn’t said anything specific about the game, though some reports stated that the online component might be released with the sequel’s remake for PlayStation 5.
The sheer amount of active development surrounding The Last of Us franchise is astounding, so it’s not entirely surprising that Naughty Dog hasn’t said anything. It’s entirely possible that the studio’s stretched thin between the ongoing development of television adaption, the online component for TLOU2, the script for The Last of Us Part III — a sequel to the series — and the next Uncharted game.