The end is nigh… but don’t worry too much: HBO‘s critically-acclaimed The Last of Us adaptation is safe and well (or as safe and well as apocalypses get) and readying to shoot its second season and the rumours of a The Last of Us: Part III game continue to swirl. However, one of the eagerly-awaited off-shoots of the franchise, The Last of Us Online looks to have been officially put to rest.
The game developers Naughty Dog formally announced that they have stopped development on The Last of Us Online, the much-anticipated but troubled off-shoot that they had been working on for several years. The game would have been a multiplayer adventure where online gamers could unite in various in-world missions with new challenges to beat.
“We realize many of you have been anticipating news around the project that we’ve been calling The Last of Us Online. There’s no easy way to say this: We’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to stop development on that game,” Naughty Dog revealed in a statement on Thursday.
The reason given is the considerable time it takes to develop any game (if Naughty Dog are indeed working on a ‘Part III‘ of the main game it could still be another two years before release and the first sequel took nearly a decade to appear). The company acknowledged that as the project moved forward it became obvious how much time it would take to not only fully render and create but to keep up to date once launched. This would come at the expense of the single-player games that have been the backbone of the company’s releases to date.
“The multiplayer team has been in pre-production with this game since we were working on The Last of Us Part II – crafting an experience we felt was unique and had tremendous potential,” the statement continued. “As the multiplayer team iterated on their concept for The Last of Us Online during this time, their vision crystalized, the gameplay got more refined and satisfying, and we were enthusiastic about the direction in which we were headed. In ramping up to full production, the massive scope of our ambition became clear. To release and support The Last of Us Online we’d have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post launch content for years to come, severely impacting development on future single-player games. So, we had two paths in front of us: become a solely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that have defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.”
The announcement doesn’t come as a massive surprise to people who have been following the company’s movements over the past year. As far back as May there were reports that Naughty Dog was already scaling back its commitments ahead of a decision. It is known that the company are working on a new single-player game, but they’ve yet to confirm if this the rumoured Part Three or something completely new.
The Remastered edition of The Last of Us: Part II with even better graphics and several new game options will arrive for the Playstation 5 on 19th January.