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The Last of Us 3 Would Put Naughty Dog in an Unusual Position

Highlights

  • The Last of Us 3 could bring some new challenges and potential for the franchise depending on how it is handled, but it may also come with unexpected consequences.
  • The success and relevance of The Last of Us series have solidified Naughty Dog’s association with the brand, making it difficult for it to branch out with a new IP.
  • While Naughty Dog is probably early in development on The Last of Us 3, it has also stated that it is developing other ambitious single-player games, indicating a diversification of its portfolio.


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The Last of Us might be getting a third entry, which is an exciting prospect for fans of the admittedly small franchise. That said, while Naughty Dog’s comments about The Last of Us 3 could suggest a promising new direction for the series, it does back the developer into a bit of a corner and could spell trouble moving forward.


Although Naughty Dog cut its teeth with several memorable gaming franchises including Jak and Uncharted, The Last of Us is arguably what the company is best known for. The first Last of Us game was immensely influential, sparking a surge of story-focused third-person shooters in the 2010s and leading to other seminal works like Santa Monica’s God of War reboot in 2018. The Last of Us 2, while controversial due to its bold story decisions, maintained the franchise’s fervent fanbase, which was once again reignited and expanded with HBO’s 2023 adaptation of the first game.

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Naughty Dog Will Need a New Direction After The Last of Us 3

the-last-of-us-part-2-remastered-the-last-of-us-part-1-remake-key-art-cover


While Naughty Dog may face some challenges when it comes to topping the strengths of The Last of Us 2, there’s certainly potential for a third entry in the franchise. Of course, this all depends on how The Last of Us 3 is handled, as shying away from innovation and risk-taking could make the game feel phoned-in or uninspired. Either way, tripling down on the post-apocalyptic series could come with some unexpected, long-term consequences.

The Last of Us 3 Might Cement Naughty Dog’s Identity

Most Naughty Dog fans would consider Uncharted and The Last of Us to be the developer’s two main franchises, but with the last full-length Uncharted game releasing in 2016—and little to no news about the series since—Nathan Drake’s adventures are fading from the zeitgeist. On the other hand, The Last of Us has been receiving remakes, remasters, and PC ports, in addition to the industry-shaking Last of Us 2 in 2020. Even the often-acidic discourse surrounding TLOU2 has helped the series stay relevant.

HBO’s
The Last of Us
has broadened the franchise’s fan base, stretching it beyond just the gaming community.


Keeping the train running with The Last of Us 3 would only further cement Naughty Dog’s association with the brand, possibly making it difficult to branch out with a new IP. A new IP is exactly what the developer needs because, though The Last of Us 3 is an exciting idea, the series shouldn’t need to continue indefinitely to meet the standards of its popularity.

Naughty Dog Is Working On Other Games

An official statement from Naughty Dog in December 2023 notes that it is working on “more than one ambitious, brand-new single player game.” Coupled with Druckmann’s comments about having another story to tell in the world of The Last of Us, this statement seems to imply that at least one other title is being developed alongside TLOU3. This is a good thing, as it hopefully means that Naughty Dog is diversifying after being fully committed to The Last of Us for the better part of a decade.


Naughty Dog’s narrative polish, bold decision-making, and attention to detail are strengths that can be adapted to any kind of game, and while The Last of Us has been the last-generation showcase for these strengths, it doesn’t mean that the developer can’t spread its wings. The games industry has seen many studios that went all-in on a single-franchise and ended up milking it dry, so as long as Naughty Dog doesn’t do that with The Last of Us, the company should be well-positioned to keep delivering strong experiences.

last of us 2 box art

The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part II is the follow-up to the original game in the series. This time around, players control both Ellie and Abby. The game won many awards, including smashing the record for the most Game of the Year awards.

Franchise
The Last of Us

Released
June 19, 2020

Engine
Proprietary

ESRB
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

How Long To Beat
24 Hours

Metascore
93



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