After the delay of The Last of Us Part II, many assumed that it would be the last time we would hear anything about the game until it was closer to release. But, new job listings that Naughty Dog has posted reveal that they are starting development on a new multiplayer experience. This could be what Naughty Dog said will be “the fruits of the team’s online ambition, but not as part of The Last of Us Part II“, back when Naughty Dog clarified that multiplayer won’t be in the game. The two new job listings that were posted are Multiplayer Gameplay Programmer and Online Systems Programmer.
The Online Systems Programmer will take “the meticulously crafted themes Naughty Dog’s games are known for and integrating a social and competitive experience offers both opportunities and challenges.” Responsibilities include architecting new online features both for the game and surrounding services, working closely with Design to create a robust ecosystem with game features and background services, and to integrate new features into a scaling architecture that can support a large player base.
Like the Online Systems Programmer, the Multiplayer Gameplay Programmer will look for the intersection point between the incredible theming that Naughty Dog games are known for and the sweaty competitive matches the fans have come to love. The job entails working with Design to iterate on new game mechanics to make them fun while keeping them competitive. Responsibilities include bringing ideas and new gameplay features into the game while working with the Design and Art teams, and programming content like character motion, animation, weapons, user interface, scripting, and networking.
The reason that multiplayer isn’t going to be in The Last of Us Part II is because of the campaign which Naughty Dog says is the most ambitious project that they’ve undertaken. They also said that as development began on the evolution of Factions, the multiplayer component of The Last of Us, their vision grew beyond an additional mode that could be included with the campaign. Naughty Dog said that the reason they decided to delay the game after announcing a release date was to have enough time to “bring the game up to a level of polish that we would call Naughty Dog quality.” They were faced with compromising parts of the game or getting more time. The Last of Us Part II launches on May 29, 2020.