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The Last of Us battle royale? That’s an idea so wild it just might work

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A few weeks ago, rumours were swirling about The Last Of Us battle royale. Believe it or not, that might not be as bad an idea as it sounds.

Over a year since The Last of Us: Part 2’s launch, fans are still hopeful that a follow-up to Factions – the first game’s multiplayer mode – is on the way. It was originally confirmed for Part 2, then later, dropped from the main release to maybe follow at an unspecified later date.

Things went quiet on the matter, for a long time. Then in the past few weeks, rumours surfaced – based on datamined information from the game’s files – that The Last of Us: Part 2’s cut multiplayer mode could have been a battle royale? It’s not exactly a pairing you’d expect to see.

To any fan of the post-apocalyptic series, you may have struggled to come to terms with the idea of battle royale in The Last of Us. I know I did. The Last of Us and its sequel remain some of my most cherished games and have stayed that way because they were unique and unlike anything I’d ever played. Battle royale, however, is something we’ve all played – and maybe a little too much at that. A battle royale mode for the series seems at first glance like a cash grab, as yet another property jumps on the bandwagon, chasing the multiplayer zeitgeist.

Yet in a conflicted conversation with my competitive gaming side, I couldn’t help but wonder about the possibilities of a battle royale mode for The Last of Us. I have frequented the streets of Verdansk, battled alongside Legends in ApeLegs, and even ridden the occasional Party Bus. Outside of new seasons and expanded content, I began to wonder how the genre could feasibly progress – especially as we see titles like Hyper Scape and Radical Heights fail to make an impact at launch.

And after much rumination, I have decided that The Last of Us battle royale is in fact an excellent idea. Let me explain.

A continuation of factions

While I considered how at odds a battle royale seemed for the series, I remembered how I felt when Factions was first announced. From its initial reveal just a week before launch, Factions felt tacked on. It saw it as something to coerce gamers into keeping their copies, after completing the main campaign. Yet as I sceptically tried it out, I discovered what is ultimately one of the best multiplayer experiences out there.

The format is simple and anyone dabbling in Factions will instantly recognise many of the elements at play. Team lives, capture tokens, kills – you get it. But where Factions excelled was in its transposition of the main game’s essence into a multiplayer setting.

Matches were tense, slow-paced, and every bullet counted. It was a down-to-the-wire experience that left players with their hearts pumping and palms sweating. Yet, as an eight-year-old game, it understandably feels a little dated. Indeed, legacy servers have since been switched off.

But this is where my next point comes in.

The gameplay of The Last of Us: Part 2

Say what you will about this divisive sequel, but The Last of Us: Part 2 made a substantial improvement on its predecessor’s gameplay. It streamlined crafting, featured a fluid traversal system, and really tightened up combat – including a more advanced stealth system. This focus on stealth could see the overall tense vibe from Factions emphasised in a battle royale.

Just as Naraka Bladepoint is focusing on fighting mechanics for its take on the genre, The Last of Us could really home in on stealth. It is an often present but frequently side-lined element of other battle royale games. [If you like playing battle royale games stealthily, come hide with me in some bushes with me in PUBG – cowardice and sneaking Ed.]

Leaving players to deliberate on their ammo, scrounge the map for resources and use the environment to sneak their way past foes could capture that nail-biting experience of the series. And with many environmental maps already providing excellent large canvases in the base game, a stitched-together collection of existing maps from The Last of Us: Part 2 – complete with all that lovely long grass – could work brilliantly.

There would, of course, be much more to consider when implementing battle royale into the series. What form would the encroaching circle take? How could you make that fit within the fiction of the world? How large do you make the map? How many players would it take on?

As rumours will no doubt continue to surface, I hope that Naughty Dog has fitting answers if the mode really does exist. However, I’ve come to realise that if it does exist? It could be a brilliant, bloody and brutal take on battle royale.

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