There’s no denying that The Last of Us is a fantastic game and one that you should definitely play. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details right now and I’ll save that for another day. With as much praise as the single player story has gotten (well deserved), it seems as though the multiplayer side is getting lost in the shuffle a bit. I hope that doesn’t happen because it’s a worthy addition and something you should be checking out as well.
Initially, I was skeptical of the multiplayer side as I’ve been burned before about tacked on experiences for the sake of being able to check a box on some “To Do” list. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. I wanted to at least say I gave it a shot though and it’s Naughty Dog after all so I’ll always give them the benefit of the doubt. So jumped in feet first. I’m glad I did, because Naughty Dog is doing something unique, fun and engaging with their multiplayer experience.
At it’s heart, “Factions” is a 4v4 team deathmatch but the interesting twist comes with the fact that each team is fighting over limited supplies. Since we’re in a word devastated by a pandemic, supplies are hard to come by which means ammo is low, and you’ll need to scavenge supplies to survive. So don’t expect this to be a re-skinned Uncharted multiplayer as teams perform better working together in groups and also moving slower due to sounds highlighting your position on the minimap. Running and gunning is a good way to get yourself killed and put your team in danger. The excellent crafting system makes its return here and any supplies you manage to round-up can be used to craft things like shivs, to health packs, to Molotovs. gear can also be used to upgrade weapons and armor temporarily. “Listen Mode” from the single player is also present here but to make sure it’s balanced out, it’s on a cooldown timer and cannot be used for more than a few seconds at a time.
Currently, there are only two modes: Supply Raid and Survivors. Both are variations of classic Team Deathmatch but essentially, Supply Raid gives both sides a pool of lives to pull from and when that runs out, the match is over while Survivors mixes things up a bit where each player is given only one life per round. While it looks like a standard third person shooter, its limited ammo and lack of health regeneration say otherwise. I would expect additional modes via DLC in the coming months.
On top of that, how you perform in these matches will directly affect a meta game going on in the background. You see, the character you play as represents the leader of a group of survivors who’s intent on keeping them alive through 12 weeks. On the home screen, you can see how many people have joined your group, if you have anyone that’s sick and hungry. Perform well in matches and meet your groups supply needs and you’ll keep everyone happy and also add new members. Fail to grab the requisite number of supplies and things may start to go bad. Even cooler is the fact that by linking your account to Facebook, the game will auto-populate your faction with real-life friends giving more meaning to the experience.
As you play through matches, the days increment by one and at various points of the 12 week campaign, new wildcards or decisions need to be made. Sometimes, the game may throw some random events at you including things like bandit raids or medical outbreaks. At this point, you’re tasked with a certain objective in game (down 3 people, etc) in order to help your clan survive these events. Ultimately, the choices here are more for adding personality to the multiplayer experience and from what I’ve played, it’s pretty effective.
I was pleasantly surprised by the multiplayer component within The Last of Us. For a game that’s so highly praised for it’s single player offering, you’d be doing yourself a disservice for also missing out on this half of the game.