- Naughty Dog's job offers indicate that the studio is working on a multiplayer game;
- The yet-to-be-announced project is expected to be as ambitious as the team's previous work;
- Although the game hasn't been announced yet, there are clues that it will be a multiplayer spin-off to The Last of Us.
Naughty Dog has posted job offers for the positions of gameplay scripter and level designer. This would suggest that the team, whose portfolio includes the bestselling Uncharted and The Last of Us series, is currently working on its first game designed only with multiplayer experience in mind. The team convinces us that they do not intend to take the easy way out, and this enigmatic game will be as ambitious as its recent works, focusing primarily on the story and solo gameplay.
The offers themselves do not provie any details about the yet unannounced project. The developers have only revealed that they're trying to "raise the level of ambition and quality characteristic of our (Naughty Dog's) role-playing games". The team also reminded us of their achievements. The Last of Us: Part II has won over 300 Game of the Year awards, and three of the ten highest-rated games on PlayStation 4 were produced by the studio.
The newly hired gameplay scripter will have a "powerful scripting language" at his/her disposal, which allows for rapid prototyping of new systems and mechanics, while the level designer will have "maximum control and flexibility in space design" to create "realistic spaces with strong identity" and "compelling gameplay".
Although the developers have yet to reveal the title of their new game, there are indications that we're dealing with a multiplayer spin-off to The Last of Us, which evolved from the abandoned multiplayer mode to the second installment.
Back in June 2018, Naughty Dog assured that The Last of Us 2 will feature an online mode. However, in September 2019, the team announced that they had decided to abandon these plans in favor of better refinement of the story campaign. In September 2020, Neil Druckmann, the studio's vice president, published an enigmatic tweet in which he once again addressed the issue, asking fans of the series to be patient because "it will be worth it". And finally, in March 2021, the studio's website posted a job offer, from which it appeared that the team is working on a live-service game, and that they expected the employee to have "extensive knowledge of multiplayer action games".
So if it turns out that we will really be dealing with a multiplayer spin-off to The Last of Us, one might still be tempted to try and pinpoint its possible time of action. Nothing stands in the way of the devs enabling players to take part in multiplayer struggles taking place, for example, parallel to Ellie's journey from The Last of Us: Part II. It's just as well the developers might have wanted to use the storyline of The Last of Us 3, which, as Druckmann revealed in April this year, is already finished. While some may see this as a waste of potential, it's worth recalling the words of Hermen Hulst, the head of PlayStation Studios, who recently argued that great storylines don't have to be the domain of single-player games:
"We also want to make sure that we’re creating a variety of experiences for our audiences. Franchises, new IP, big games, smaller and more innovative games, single-player stories, and multiplayer. Who says that multiplayer experience cannot have great stories, right?"
Hermen Hulst, President of PlayStation Studios
Whatever this multiplayer game turns out to be, we're probably going to have to wait for it. The developers have yet to reveal its title, target platforms, or even an approximate release date. However, the job offers mention "prototyping new systems and mechanics", which seems to indicate that the project is still in the early stages of development.
- Naughty Dog - official website
- The Last of Us: Part II - official website
- The Last of Us 2 Review – A Game to Set the World on Fire
- The Last of Us 2 - game guide