The Last of Us 2 will bring back the first game's multiplayer mode, and it's a perfect chance for Naughty Dog to fix the deep issues plaguing Factions' unique take on online, survival-focused battles. Co-director Anthony Newman casually confirmed the returin an interview with GameSpot, saying "Factions is coming back," though a follow-up response from fellow co-director Kurt Margeneau makes it sound like Newman may have been a little too specific.
"Multiplayer is coming back," Margeneau said. "We're not going to talk details yet about what form that takes, but we can confirm there will be multiplayer." Though I wasn't there in the room, I can just imagine the "dude, shut up" vibes radiating from Margeneau toward Newman as he said that.
Peer for a moment into the misty depths of video game generations past. Remember a time when it felt like every big game had some kind of a multiplayer mode, even if it was totally unnecessary and bad. The Last of Us came at the tail end of that trying era, which made it even more surprising that Factions was totally not that. Factions was its own distinct multiplayer experience that made impressive use of TLoU's stealth and survival mechanics for "didn't realize you were holding your breath for the last 20 seconds" tense online skirmishes.
Each match was bridged by the narrative of a clan of survivors, with special meta-challenges improving their plight if you succeeded, or showing worsening conditions if you failed. You could even get a "game over" by losing your whole clan, though you could start over immediately and jump right back into multiplayer. Seeing Naughty Dog take another crack at all of that would be exciting enough on its own, but it's also a chance for the studio to fix some regrettable issues it introduced to Factions with a heaping helping of paid DLC.
Factions didn't just sell fun hats and skins, you see; it also put out packs full of useful weapons and "survival skills" (which did stuff like making enemies drop extra ammo, or making it take longer for you to bleed out) for sale on the PlayStation Store. The stuff in these packs was very useful if not outright better than the items in the base game, and the only way to get them was by paying extra. And it's not like The Last of Us was a free game to begin with!
Now that Naughty Dog has had several years to reflect on what it did right and wrong with the original Factions mode, I'm eager to see what its second attempt at a similar concept would look like.