The Last of Us’ standalone multiplayer might be Naughty Dog’s most exciting and intriguing project in a while, mainly due to the fact that it is indeed a multiplayer game, but also narrative- and character-driven. One of the few official details shared about the untitled project is that it takes place in San Francisco, making its locale new to players and The Last of Us universe in a way that will surely create a new dynamic in gameplay and story. Further, by the time it comes out, Naughty Dog may choose to introduce a bunch of new features and mechanics that were not present before in the franchise.
Because it is part of The Last of Us franchise anyway, it only makes sense that it would develop itself from the foundations of The Last of Us Part 1 and The Last of Us 2. It has not been stated one way or another, but The Last of Us 2’s combat, stealth, and traversal are expected to return in the multiplayer project. If so, there are key mechanics that it must include to make it a phenomenal PvP experience, and also a potentially rewarding PvPvE experience as well.
One mechanic that The Last of Us 2 implemented to its stealth and traversal was the ability to crawl around in a prone position on the character’s stomach. This allowed Ellie and Abby to get as low as possible while scrambling in tall foliage or narrowly slipping beneath dilapidated vehicles for cover.
Prone positioning drastically changes how players assess their environments for use in traversing or sneaking about, particularly when they could either avoid all enemies or ambush them from a better angle. Tall foliage, for example, can be used to slip past any unsuspecting enemies, but they could still see the player if they come too near. Likewise, enemies could drag the player out from under vehicles or other cover if they had been spotted there. This would make for fantastic experiences in The Last of Us’ multiplayer as prone positioning could make for similar incidents in-game.
Players would need to be incredibly aware of their surroundings, such as whether tall foliage or cars are nearby, and carefully search for any potential PvP enemies hiding nearby. The Last of Us 2 makes excellent use of prone movement to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, establish jump scares, and offer players a dynamic way to hide that the original game did not.
The Last of Us’ Multiplayer Could Benefit from Dynamic Traversal If The Last of Us’ multiplayer project features an open-world or extensive area to navigate, Naughty Dog should strongly consider reprising the sequel’s horseback riding, motorboat driving, and general leaping or climbing. It may be difficult to imagine any scenarios where players would have the time to lob a rope and hoist themselves up a structure’s ruins in PvP, but horseback riding could help players reach areas sooner.
Of course, horseback riding could draw unwanted attention as hostile players could hear the horse coming. It would certainly make encounters more interesting to have to consider which means of traversal players should use. If interior locations are considered, The Last of Us should implement verticality and climbable surfaces into its ruins. This way, players could get the jump on others by taking creative routes around streets and apartment buildings.
If players can leap from rooftop to rooftop or enter into buildings through windows and fire escape scaffolding, The Last of Us’ environmental interaction and traversal would be ingeniously immersive and innovative. Paired with prone movement in intimate areas, this traversal would give The Last of Us multiplayer game incredible depth when it comes to PvP or PvPvE encounters.