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Everything you need to know about The Last of Us 2 hack, and what it means for the game's release

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

A few weeks on from The Last of Us 2 hack, and we're still apparently feeling its impact, as even more footage of the upcoming PS4 game has landed online just days out from release. 

Naturally, we're not going to share that here, as you can go out and find it for yourself if you're so inclined, though it's worth stressing that Last of Us 2 director Neil Druckmann has confirmed that many of the spoilers out there right now are false, or misleading.

But how did The Last of Us 2 hack happen in the first place? There have been conflicting reports, but with Sony reportedly identifying the culprits behind the leak, we've gone over all the information currently available about The Last of Us 2 hack and leak, and will update this story as it progresses. 

The Last of Us 2 hack: When did the game leak? 

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

The Last of Us 2 leak was first reported on April 26, when a user took to the ResetEra and rounded up information including gameplay footage, story details for the game's plot (yes, even the ending), and more. If you want to read it, you can see the still-active thread here.

Naughty Dog was quick to respond, issuing a statement on its Twitter, as well as a new The Last of Us 2 release date for June 19. You can see Naughty Dog's statement below.

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Sony also provided a statement to GamesRadar at the time saying: "We’re disappointed that anyone would release unauthorized pre-launch footage of The Last of Us Part 2, disrupt years of Naughty Dog’s hard work and ruin the experience for fans worldwide.

"We want everyone to have the opportunity to play The Last of Us Part 2 at the same time and ask that viewing or sharing of the unauthorized footage be avoided."

Almost two months later, on June 9, the game's opening moments surfaced on YouTube, although it's unclear if these derived from The Last of Us 2 hack, or the fact that review copies are now out and in the wild. 

Who hacked and leaked The Last of Us 2?

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

After the leak, a rumour started circulating through Reddit, in a post that has since been deleted, that the hack and leak was carried out by a disgruntled employee of the studio. That rumour, however, turned out to be false when Sony identified who had hacked the game and confirmed that it was not a Naughty Dog employee.

In a statement to Polygon, Sony said: "SIE has identified the primary individuals responsible for the unauthorized release of TLOU2 assets. They are not affiliated with Naughty Dog or SIE. We are unable to comment further because the information is subject to an on-going investigation." 

So why the rumour about this being a Naughty Dog employee? Well, the original Reddit post had falsely claimed Naughty Dog was furloughing staff as well as withholding bonuses on the game (it has since been deleted, but you can view it via the Wayback Machine here). Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier, who had covered crunch working conditions for Kotaku, took to Twitter to assert that the Reddit post was fake, as well as claim that Naughty Dog was playing its contractors extra because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Essentially, at this moment in time, only Sony knows who hacked the game, but it has confirmed it's not a Naughty Dog employee.

How was The Last of Us 2 hacked? 

This is where things get a little more complicated. After Sony had announced it had identified the person who had leaked the game's assets, a twitter user by the name of PixelButts went through in detail about how the game was hacked. For can read the full thread here.  

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In layperson's terms, each Naughty Dog game reportedly contained a key that can access the developer's server. This was exploited by hackers who were then able to copy items off The Last of Us 2's development server, which apparently included the game footage that has since leaked. Naughty Dog has since fixed this vulnerability according to the Twitter thread, but clearly, the damage has been done by this point.   

How has this affected development of The Last of Us 2? 

Simply put, it hasn't any more than the current pandemic has. The Last of Us 2 had suffered another delay in April when it was indefinitely postponed due to concerns regarding COVID-19. Since the leak, we've had a confirmed release date for the game, as well as news from Neil Druckmann, the game's creative director, that it has gone Gold. This means the game is being pressed onto discs and being uploaded to the PlayStation Network.

In short, while this hack and leak won't affect the game's release more than it already has, there is still plenty to learn officially about how this hack took place. We'll be sure to update you when we learn more. 

Here's how to avoid The Last of Us 2 spoilers in the run-up to its release.

Hello, I'm GamesRadar's News Editor. When I'm not moaning about being beaten on FIFA, I'm writing news and features for this wonderful site.