Naughty Dog has repeatedly proven itself over the years to be not only one of the best developers in the games industry but also one of the most renowned first-party developers of Sony Interactive Entertainment.
The California-based studio has earned great respect for producing amazing storytellers for the PlayStation brand and with next-generation around the corner, it has to be naturally asked: what is Naughty Dog currently working on?
The Last of Us Part 2 and its reception
The Last of Us Part 2 was the titular last offering from Naughty Dog to conclude the current PlayStation 4 generation. The sequel to the 2013 original was released in June 2020 to near-universal acclaim. Despite controversies surrounding some of the characters and plot threads, the game sold over 4 million copies at release to become the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive.
There were also other PlayStation records that were shattered in its wake. The Last of Us Part 2 became one of the most popular games in PlayStation history under just two months and was the most-downloaded PS4 game in North America and Europe for the launch month. The sequel also enjoyed the biggest launch of the year for both physical and digital sales, which ended up as another feather in the cap of Naughty Dog to signify quality storytelling.
The official wording so far
Naughty Dog has made no official announcements at the time of writing. It however became evident following the release of The Last of Us Part 2 that the developer has already started work on something new. The mysterious project remains in the dark for now but will likely be another stellar first-party offering.
It should be noted that Naughty Dog has been hailed for making the most out of every console generation in terms of hardware and features. The developer is hence expected to make its debut on PS5 with something extraordinary that ascertains what a next-generation console is capable of producing.
At the same time though there is a bit of vagueness to whether Naughty Dog is working on something completely new or an expansion to an existing game. The Last of Us Part 2 was originally promised a multiplayer mode but which was not included at release. The sequel was also assumed to receive a story-based expansion similar to the original game.
According to game director Neil Druckmann, there are “no plans” to release any story-based expansion packs for The Last of Us Part 2. He however did hint that work on some sort of multiplayer mode has begun.
Since The Last of Us Part 2 will be coming to PS5 through backwards compatibility, it reasons that Naughty Dog will be extending a bit of developer support for both console generations. Hence, the developer might as well be releasing the promised multiplayer mode before focusing on its next-generation debut on PS5 with a brand new game.
What the job listings say
Naughty Dog has posted a number of job listings following the release of The Last of Us Part 2. Those listings seek candidates for a “narrative-driven single-player game” with “melee animations” and “next-generation graphics.”
This is the closest to an official confirmation about a new game that can be reaped. The mention of single-player however should not wash away the multiplayer support for The Last of Us Part 2 since Naughty Dog is possibly working on that in-house. The developer though is definitely hiring for a new triple-a project on PS5 as evident from the job listings.
Naughty Dog is not known to rush announcements. Whatever the developer is working on for PS5 will likely be unveiled at least a couple of years from now. The much-awaited next-generation debut of the first-party studio will hence take place somewhere in the middle of the new console cycle.
As for what is being worked on, both the Last of Us and Uncharted franchises are done in the eyes of Naughty Dog. The developer has repeatedly noted that it will not be milking a franchise just for the sake of it.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End concluded the story of Nathan Drake in 2016, and The Last of Us Part 2 of Ellie only recently. Jak and Daxter could return in a new installment but Sony may possibly outsource that task to another developer.
Naughty Dog has praised Sony for giving the studio ample creative freedom. The only way to exercise that freedom on PlayStation 5 would be to introduce a brand new universe with the potential of birthing another franchise. The coming years will confirm if fans are indeed in for a brand new IP.