The Last of Us 2 multiplayer – what we know so far

Almost two years after the game’s launch, fans are eagerly waiting for an update on The Last of Us 2 multiplayer and when it will finally arrive. The sequel may have been praised as a masterpiece and the most-awarded game of all time, yet there’s always been an expectation that there’s more to come.

Not only are gamers patiently waiting for a PS5 upgrade of TLOU2 and a remake of the original, they also want to know when Factions 2.0 will release. With Naughty Dog remaining quiet on the subject, fans have been left to speculate over a handful of clues and reported leaks.

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The Last of Us multiplayer explained

For those who remember, The Last of Us launched on day one with multiplayer featuring a cluster of maps, modes, and an intriguing meta layer where your in-match performance would affect your survivor faction. Favouring 4v4 skirmishes, there was a rawness to TLOU’s online play, having to scavenge and craft weapons on-the-fly, matches often ending with a gnarly headshot or a brutal melee takedown.

Popular even today, there’s definitely room to refine and expand that formula in The Last of Us 2 multiplayer. So, where is it?

Where is Factions 2.0?

In the build up to the core game’s release, Naughty Dog confirmed that multiplayer wouldn’t launch alongside the follow-up chapter to Joel & Ellie’s post-apocalyptic saga. At the same, the studio assured fans that the mode is still coming and that it would share the details when ready. Well, it’s been many months now, with no indication of when multiplayer is coming, if at all.

It didn’t take long for speculation to fill the void, some rumours and theories more credible than others. Whether ramping up work on The Last of Us 2 multiplayer or another project, Naughty Dog is looking for talent specialising in online games. Not only that, Sony has been clear that its ambition is to publish more live service titles to accompany its stable of prestige PlayStation exclusives. It’s believed this is the primary reason why it acquired Destiny studio, Bungie, in early 2022.

Standalone? Battle royale? Microtransactions?

There’s evidence to suggest that The Last of Us 2’s multiplayer will be a standalone release, independent of the main game. Not only that, it could launch as a free-to-play battle royale title that is monetised via microtransactions. The battle royale theory is a popular one, having surfaced once again in recent months thanks to the data mining efforts of modders.

As for microtransactions, the studio’s careers page specifically references ND’s “first standalone multiplayer game” in its search for a Senior Monetization / Economy Designer. In the past, even great free to play online games can suffer from poorly implemented monetization, either coming across as too greedy or failing to extract enough money from player’s pockets to sustain ongoing support.

ghost of tsushima legends iyo raid

Ghost of Tsushima: Legends.

In truth, this wouldn’t be the first example of a PlayStation exclusive having a breakaway standalone multiplayer component. Ghost of Tsushima Legends is currently available as a separate download for those who only want to engage with this surprisingly awesome co-op mode. Naughty Dog itself sold Uncharted 3’s multiplayer as a standalone release in 2013, even offering a free-to-play version (though this was admittedly capped to reaching level 15).

While it would have pleased fans to see multiplayer at The Last of Us 2’s launch, it would have no doubt been compromised due to Naughy Dog’s laser focus on telling a gut-punching story. There’s also a chance that online play could have fizzled out by now, especially without the in-house talent to ensure its long-term success.

Although we take any rumours with a fistful of salt nowadays, it wouldn’t surprise us if the end product ended up something like this.

Of course, this would be much bigger in scope compared to an evolution of Factions and its handful of familiar competitive modes. However, nothing about The Last of Us 2 has been played safe. A more open, survival-focused multiplayer game sounds like the perfect kind of online experience to kick off Sony’s burgeoning live service efforts.

The hope is that we’ll get an update soon, whether during TLOU’s 10th anniversary or TLOU2’s second, even if it’s just a small announcement. Naughty Dog has been quiet for too long for the studio to sit out 2022 with no major news for fans.

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.