The original Last of Us was released with an online player vs. player (PVP) mode called Factions. It was brutal, team-oriented, slow, and methodical. Originally, the sequel was going to launch with multiplayer, but Ellie’s violent tale of revenge took precedent. While a faction mode is in the works, its release is shrouded in mystery.
Naughty Dog’s vision for multiplayer grew beyond its initial idea and it decided to give Factions more time and attention. As we wait, we can’t help but daydream about what’s to come. Numerous additions could satisfy fans when they finally get to crouch walk around an arena and hunt down opposing survivors.
10. A Free Update
Naughty Dog will likely release Factions as a standalone game. However the game is presented, there will be a hidden price tag somewhere. This could be an up-front price, microtransactions, or at the very least, a PlayStation Plus requirement. The best case scenario is a free update to the base game and a free PS5 remaster. A standalone free game will be fueled by microtransactions and a pay-to-win economy.
Sucker Punch recently added Legends, a mystical multiplayer mode, to Ghost of Tsushima free of charge (besides the PlayStation Plus requirement). Hopefully, Naughty Dog will take a similar approach for Factions’ eventual release.
9. Eradication of Pay To Win
Naughty Dog multiplayer games have a long history of selling silly customs and advanced weaponry through the PlayStation Store. In the original Last of Us, players can buy full-auto assault rifles while everyone else has measly nine-millimeter handguns. People with extra money have an inherent advantage above those who can barely afford the game.
This is a common trend across all of Naughty Dog multiplayer games. A trend that needs to change. The problem: increased development costs are forcing companies to find alternative ways to make a profit. Sometimes microtransactions are a necessary evil. If Naughty Dog has to add microtransaction then, at least, make them purely cosmetic.
8. Utilize Full PS5 capabilities
The Last of Us Part II was released near the end of the last generation, but PS5 owners can play it via backwards compatibility. Factions will be released in the weird limbo of cross-generational games. In a perfect world, Naughty Dog can appease both PS4 and PS5 players.
The PS5 version should be boosted to a constant 60 FPS or 120 FPS while utilizing 4K resolution and ray-tracing capabilities. This may seem impossible but Naughty Dog has a history of squeezing all the juices out of Sony’s consoles. The Uncharted and The Last of Us games established Naughty Dog as a leader in technical achievement.
7. Stealth and Teamwork focused PVP
The original Factions excelled at differentiating itself from Naughty Dog’s other multiplayer offering: Uncharted. Whereas Uncharted has players running around like chickens with their heads cut off, The Last of Us offers a slower, methodical experience.
To win a match, one must be a team player and carefully pick their shots. Factions is about surviving by collecting supplies and crafting advantages. The original game encouraged this by giving players limited ammo and utilizing a high time to kill. The first game mastered these concepts and the second iteration should not throw away what was already built.
6. Battle Royale
Battle Royale is all the craze and some people may be tired of it, but The Last of Us lends itself to it well. The gameplay mentioned above is perfect for a heart-pounding, edge of the seat Battle Royale. A single-life and stealth gameplay is a fitting transition for the story’s stress-inducing gameplay.
The campaign has wide environments, such as the Seattle missions, that can be adapted into a multiplayer map. Horses and vehicles can provide transportation options and encroaching spores can enclose the map. Dead players can also revive into infected and take their revenge on the living.
5. Campaign Assets Transfer Over
The Last of Us Part II improved upon the original by adding several new elements to the gameplay. One of the biggest and simpler changes is the ability to go prone. Ellie can crawl through tall grass and hide underneath vehicles. Similarly, Ellie is faster than Joel and can maneuver the environment much easier.
She can shimmy through small crevices and jump across larger gaps. This additional maneuverability allows for better flanking and high ground opportunities in multiplayer matches. Lastly, companion dogs can alert players to enemy locations and disrupt their stealthy antics.
4. Co-op Missions
There are several stories to be told in The Last of Us universe, including Tommy and Joel’s adventures before they meet Ellie, Jessie and Dina’s scavenging runs before the events of The Last of Us Part 2, and Lev’s experience with The Seraphites. Since Naughty Dog is not planning any DLC, co-op missions will be an avenue for untold stories.
Not to mention, the established gameplay is prime for co-op from environmental puzzles to surviving ravenous hordes of infected. With co-op, players can plan out stealth routes and analyze combat scenarios together while experiencing another tear-inducing storyline from Naughty Dog.
3. The Return and Revampment of Settlement Preservation
To explain further, Factions was actually about keeping a settlement of Fireflies or Hunters alive. To keep their community healthy, a player must win matches and collect supplies scattered across the map. If everyone in a settlement dies, then the player starts over from rank one. It’s an interesting concept that could make a return if improved upon.
Instead of choosing established communities (like the WLF or The Seraphites), it would be more satisfying for players to make their own settlements and trade supplies with other players. As they progress through the ranks the settlement’s population will grow as well as its defenses. Players can choose to raid other settlements, which can initiate a capture the flag style game.
2. Bigger Maps
Naughty Dog started experimenting with a wider mission structure for Nathan Drake’s final adventure in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. The Madagascar mission featured a large environment to explore without compromising the linear nature of the game. The Last of Us Part II expounded on that concept with the Seattle missions.
Ellie and Dina explored a destroyed Seattle filled with side activities and collectibles. Naughty Dog’s multiplayer should expand along with its campaign brethren. Wider multiplayer maps, as compared to the claustrophobic maps from the original, will create fewer chokepoints and allow more creativity in combat strategies.
1. The Infected
There was a surprising lack of Infected in the previous PVP experience. Clickers, Bloaters, Stalkers, and Shamblers can show up as spontaneous map events and create dangerous three-way battles. These grotesque, fungus monsters can be lured to enemies and disrupt the flow of a match. The thought of surviving a horde of Infected with enemy players scouting the map is exhilarating. Maybe the two opposing teams can briefly team up to take out the infected before brutally trying to kill each other again.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will be adapted in some way or, even better, Naughty Dog will blow us away with something entirely new. For the time being we can continue to participate in insignificant and disobliging internet arguments about The Last of Us Part 2.