2014’s The Last of Us is best remembered for its incredible single-player campaign. It told the story of a man with little left to live for who must escort a young woman who could very well be humanity’s last hope through a harsh and dying world. It was an emotional, intelligent, and mature story that rocked the gaming world.
The vast, vast majority of the hype surrounding The Last of Us Part 2 is based on the promise that it will further the original’s incredible story. It’s why we’re willing to bet that relatively few people were troubled by the recent confirmation that The Last of Us Part 2 won’t feature a multiplayer mode.
However, that news should trouble you a little. Why? Well, it’ because The Last of Us also happened to feature arguably the most underrated multiplayer mode ever created.
On paper, The Last of Us‘ multiplayer was nothing that revolutionary. It saw two teams of players compete across three separate modes (Supply Raid, Survivors, and Interrogation). Generally speaking, each mode required you to eliminate the competition and keep your team (and yourself) alive. Again, pretty simple stuff on paper.
Where The Last of Us‘ multiplayer separated itself is in the way that it utilized some of those elements from the game’s incredible single-player campaign. See, The Last of Us‘ multiplayer saw competing teams of survivors not just running around and killing each other but battling for supplies required to stay alive. In the game’s Interrogation mode, you even have to capture a member of the opposing team in order to locate the enemy’s supply crate and win the game.
It’s rare that we get a multiplayer game that offers such a clear underlying narrative. Every multiplayer game leads to stories, but its rare that those stories further a plot established before the start of each match.
That surprising emphasis on plot and atmosphere was complemented by the game’s surprisingly methodical action. In most competitive multiplayer games, speed is the name of the game. In The Last of Us, victory requires teamwork, intelligent weapon usage not entirely based on how fast you are, constant communication, and the ability to adapt to changing situations. It’s much closer to a game like Rainbow Six: Siege than what we saw in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted and other “tacked-on” multiplayer games.
That’s the other thing about The Last of Us‘ multiplayer. If it was released as a standalone experience, it would have probably found some fans before ultimately fading away. As the companion piece for a game that you were primarily purchasing for its single-player, though, it was downright brilliant. It’s hard to think of many other developers that put so much work into something that they probably figured many people would never touch.
While The Last of Us Part 2‘s lack of a multiplayer mode seemingly confirms that not many people played the original, that does little to diminish the pain of its absence from the sequel. In fact, The Last of Us Part 2 will likely suffer somewhat from its absence.
The Last of Us Part 2 may be a great game, but with arguments already surfacing regarding whether or not this game should be a franchise, it’s entirely possible that whatever hours you get from the single-player game are going to all that you get from it. Seemingly knowing this, Naughty Dog has apparently implemented more open-world style elements designed to stretch the length of the game. We’ll see how that plays out, but you get the feeling that their decision to do so may be partially based on their desire to add “value” to the experience in a way previously satisfied by the game’s multiplayer.
It’s about more than that, though. The Last of Us‘ multiplayer deserved to be expanded upon. It was unique, fun, and a fantastic way for people to who shun standard multiplayer experiences to at least occasionally enjoy some online play.
We don’t know if The Last of Us Part 2‘s story will live up to expectations, but the game has already disappointed us a little bit by not giving that incredibly underrated multiplayer mode a second chance.