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The Last of Us - Future Multiplayer Modes I'd Like to See

The Last of Us was released in June to universal acclaim, and since then its stunning graphics, brutal gameplay and compelling narrative have been the source of much discussion amongst gamers. However, one aspect of Naughty Dog's magnum opus seems to have been woefully ignored, and that's the game's mesmerising multiplayer. Slow-paced and tactical, this competitive experience retains the stealth-based combat and elegant crafting system of its campaign, but raises the tension level even further by introducing player-controlled adversaries.

One disappointing aspect of multiplayer in The Last of Us is that the game launched with only two modes – 'Supply Raid' and 'Survivor' – which makes it all the more exciting to hear that a brand new game-type has been revealed. Distributed for free as part of patch 1.03, 'Interrogation' mode tasks players with locating and ransacking their opponent's hidden safe by extracting information from downed players. Once your team have collectively interrogated five enemies via a special type of execution, the position of their lockbox is revealed. The objective is then to break in while its owners struggle to defend it, doggedly attempting to ascertain the location of your stash in order to turn the tables.

The introduction of this exciting new mode has inspired me to think about other match-types I'd like to see in future updates. So switch from listen to read mode and craft yourself a face mask, because much like the cordyceps virus, these ideas are infectious.

One of the few issues I had with The Last of Us upon its completion was that its combat sections between human and infected foes were entirely separate. There was no point in the game where you encountered both kinds simultaneously, which was a shame as being able to manipulate one to attack the other would have added a whole new dimension to gameplay. I realise this was likely due to AI constraints, but fortunately The Infected are quite adept at attacking player-controlled characters.

Therefore I propose an alternative type of Team Deathmatch entitled Infestation, which plays much like Supply Raid, except that the map is populated with Runners, Clickers, and perhaps even a Bloater. While eliminating a member of the opposition nets points as usual, being bitten and killed by an infected strips them away, making stealth and cunning more crucial than ever.

These randomly-spawned, AI-controlled creatures will dramatically alter how player engagements will unfold. When Clickers are present, firing a gun is of course inadvisable, so the use of bows, shivs and silent takedowns will be far more prudent. If spotted by Runners during a confrontation you will be swarmed upon, forcing you to split your focus; and a Bloater careering into the midst of a firefight, spewing poison, will certainly keep everyone on their toes.

So far in The Last of Us we've only experienced head-to-head play, so I think it's high time a co-operative mode was introduced to spice things up. In a game-type I like to call Refuge, four players team up to safeguard four non-playable characters, on maps containing three separate bases. Players make their way to their camp of choice and must defend their charges against increasingly vicious waves of infected. When each of them inevitably falls victim to the hoard the match is over.

However, things aren't quite as simple as they appear to be. Each NPC's health meter steadily falls over time, and can only be replenished by scavenging supplies littered around the map. This requires careful coordination, so as not to leave your dependants defenceless as you seek out the necessary provisions. If a character's life is drained they perish, and deciding which one to allocate resources to adds another layer of strategy to the proceedings.

Your shelter itself can also only withstand a finite amount of punishment, and when it's too damaged to inhabit, you and your NPCs are forced to make your exodus and seek sanctuary elsewhere. This journey leaves you exposed and vulnerable, and if your group hasn't been well maintained they're likely to expire along the way. If all three outposts are demolished you are left with no refuge and must defend yourself as best you can, until either your team or its protectees are no more.

I'm sure the majority of The Last of Us fans would love nothing more than to be afforded the opportunity to actually play as The Infected. Contamination mode showcases the spreading epidemic and the chaos it swiftly inflicts, in an eight-player match where one participant spawns as a Runner. The others band together and defend themselves as best they can, while the infected party attempts to pick them off. Teamwork is key in ensuring the continued survival of your unit, but it only takes one bite to start you down the slippery slope to being overrun.

When a survivor is slain, they become infected and must coordinate with the other Runners to contaminate the remaining team members. The more players are turned, the harder it is to repel the swelling onslaught, and the individual that can remain human the longest is the winner – although they will eventually meet the same fate as the rest.

The twist is that survivors don't have to be killed in order to become infected. If they are mauled by a Runner there is a chance they can be corrupted without their knowledge. They would temporarily continue to stand with their team, but a short time later would succumb to the cordyceps, turning on their companions. Players would have to keep a watchful eye on those that have come into physical contact with the infected to make sure they aren't going to pose a threat, creating an uneasy alliance where anxiety and suspicion run rife.

Of course these scenarios are merely theoretical, but I would love to see some similar modes made available in the future – whether it be in this particular game or its inevitable sequels. That said, I'm sure we haven't seen the last multiplayer addition to Naughty Dog's masterpiece, so expect to hear more on that in the weeks and months ahead.

What do you think of these fictitious game-types? Would you like to give them a try, or do you think you could come up with something better? Let us know in the comments down below, and for everything concerning Naughty Dog, The Last of Us, and its future multiplayer updates, keep your clickers pointed at GameGrin.

Rob Gisbey | 11th September, 2013

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