Canceled Last of Us Factions standalone game: Multiplayer details, concept art, more

Brad Norton

What began as a simpler evolution of Factions set to launch alongside The Last of Us Part 2 soon grew into what was intended to be Naughty Dog’s first standalone multiplayer experience. However, after years in development, the project was canceled before we even so much as saw it in action. Though if you’re curious how it may have played, we’ve got the full rundown on everything there is to know. 

While traditionally viewed as a powerhouse studio in the realm of story-driven, single-player titles, Naughty Dog briefly had its sights set on conquering the live-service multiplayer realm as well. The studio’s first standalone multiplayer title was in the works for roughly six years, aiming to provide an ongoing Last of Us experience.

Having grown in ambition over the past few years, The Last of Us Part 2’s online component blossomed into a full-fledged title of its own. At least, that was the case until the game was ultimately canceled at the tail end of 2023.

And while details remained under wraps through much of its development, we did get some breadcrumbs along the way. So here’s a full rundown on everything we learned bout The Last of Us Factions, Naughty Dog’s online project.


The Last of Us Factions multiplayer gameplay
It’s been a whole decade since the original Factions experience made waves on PS3.

Did The Last of Us multiplayer game ever have a release date?

No, The Last of Us Factions multiplayer experience never locked in a solid release date or even a rough release window. The project’s targeted launch remained nebulous right up until its cancellation.

All we knew for sure was that the project has been in full-scale development since at least 2020, with pre-production ongoing for years before that, as Neil Druckmann explained during the Summer Game Fest 2022. 

Although Naughty Dog wasn’t “quite ready to unveil it” during this 2022 appearance, Druckmann assured that fans the wait for more details won’t be too long. “You’re gonna see a lot more of this game next year.”

Unfortunately, however, a new update followed in May 2023, revealing Factions wouldn’t be shown anytime soon. “What is best for the game is to give it more time,” Naughty Dog’s official statement read at the time. 

On the very same day, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported that the Factions team has been “scaled down” as the team “reassesses” the project. Later, reports from Kotaku suggested the project had been put “on ice” as a whole.

Why was The Last of Us Factions multiplayer game canceled?

Naughty Dog confirmed its multiplayer Last of Us project was officially scrapped on December 14, 2023. The decision ultimately boiled down the studio’s priorities on the whole, as the project grew so ambitious it would have allegedly forced them away from single-player games in the long run.

“To release and support The Last of Us Online we’d have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post-launch content for years to come, severely impacting development on future single-player games.

“So, we had two paths in front of us: become a solely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that have defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.”

Moving forward, the dev team is set to continue work on multiple “brand new” singleplayer releases.

What Platforms was The Last of Us Factions Multiplayer game supposed to be on?

Despite being in the public eye for many years, no platform details were ever confirmed for The Last of Us Factions. While it would have been safe to assume a release across PlayStation hardware would have come first, there’s no telling if a simultaneous PC launch may have been in the cards too, as to attract as many gamers as possible.

The Last of Us Part 1 cover art
The original Last of Us was recently remade for both PS5 and PC, with Part 2 launching on PC in early 2023 as well.

With its cancellation, there’s no telling if the multiplayer project was built from the ground up for the new-gen PS5, or whether it was designed to still support players on the last-gen PS4.

The Last of Us Factions multiplayer game: Multiplayer details

When The Last of Us first launched in 2013, it did so with an accompanying multiplayer mode known as Factions. The online experience kept the brutal realism intact, giving players limited health, equipment, and just a few rounds of ammo. It even incorporated a unique meta-game in the menus where wins, losses, and overall performance saw your own group of survivors either growing or dwindling.

As The Last of Us Part 2 drew near, it was confirmed that “an evolution” of Factions would be arriving alongside the next chapter of the story. However, Naughty Dog pivoted in 2019, announcing that the multiplayer component had taken on a life of its own and required further development than originally planned.

“The vision of the team grew beyond an additional mode that could be included with our enormous single-player campaign,” the statement read.

Outside of a simple: “we’re working on it” update in 2021 blog post, the multiplayer experience was mostly off the radar until Neil Druckmann took to the Summer Game Fest stage in 2022.

Providing some insight into the game’s development, the Naughty Dog Co-President confirmed that it would be launching as a standalone title.

“What started out as a multiplayer mode, has evolved due to the team’s ambition,” he said. “They really wanted to do something beyond what we’ve ever done at Naughty Dog. This game is big. It’s as big as any of our single-player games that we’ve done and in some ways bigger.”

Exactly what this was meant to look like, still remains unclear. Though details shared in Naughty Dog’s first blog post of 2023 provided some further insight.

First up, we were told to expect a deeper multiplayer experience than usual, as devs were still focusing on prioritizing new “stories [and] characters” through the Factions release. Exactly how these stories would have been told is unclear, but perhaps a seasonal approach with ongoing narratives unfolding over time, akin to the likes of Apex Legends and Fortnite, was the most likely bet.

Beyond the loose details, we also got two pieces of concept art for the ambitious project. The first piece of artwork showcased a wide-open space in San Francisco, seemingly being swept up in some form of catastrophic wave, perhaps one directly linked to the fungal outbreak. Zooming into the piece, we can see a form of infected making its way through the hazardous zone, potentially indicating what type of game we might see.

The Last of Us standalone multiplayer title concept art
Our first look at the canceled Last of Us multiplayer title.

A third-person Battle Royale could be a likely guess based on this concept art, where survivors must avoid the encroaching wave of runners, clickers, and the like. Given existing gameplay systems, along with a reliance on scavenging and crafting, The Last of Us could have been a natural fit for the genre.

The second piece of concept art showed an enormous cruise ship succumbing to decay while two characters approach on foot through a street seemingly torn apart by military-grade explosions, the like of which we heard about in the first game.

The Last of Us Factions concept art
The scope of Factions appeared to be quite staggering if this second piece of concept art was realized in full.

Of note in the final piece of art, the two characters both carry specific equipment. Backpacks appear to be essential, as players were likely to loot their surroundings and scavenge materials throughout a match. Meanwhile, both are carrying weapons as you might expect and one is even wearing an armored helmet, potentially a rare upgrade.

The Last of Us Factions multiplayer game: Setting & Storyline

One thing we did know for certain is that this standalone Last of Us multiplayer title was set to feature an entirely new story.

Fit with a “brand new cast of characters,” Druckmann confirmed the news during his Summer Game Fest appearance. Distanced from the single-player narrative both figuratively and literally, the new experience was designed to take place in San Francisco. 

Exactly how this story was meant to be told never quite became clear. Though as a live-service game, there’s a chance the narrative unfolds over the course of many seasonal updates post-launch. 

For now, the stories crafted for this experience will remain on the shelf. Perhaps we’ll one day learn what Naughty Dog had in store, though there’s every chance the troubled Factions development story remains a mystery in the long run.

About The Author

Brad Norton is the Australian Managing Editor at Dexerto. He graduated from Swinburne University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been working full-time in the field for the past six years at the likes of Gamurs Group and now Dexerto. He loves all things single-player gaming (with Uncharted a personal favorite) but has a history on the competitive side having previously run Oceanic esports org Mindfreak. You can contact Brad at