Naughty Dog only released The Last Of Us Part II in June last year, but it sounds like the studio is already gearing up to work on its next project.
While it's not entirely clear what the studio responsible for franchises such as Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted is working on next, recent activity from within Naughty Dog certainly suggests something is definitely afoot.
As noted by Twisted Voxel, multiple Naughty Dog employees celebrated promotions towards the end of 2020. The most notable among these was The Last Of Us Part II creative director Neil Druckmann becoming the co-president of the studio, but a number of other employees moved up the ladder. Linkedin confirms that former lead game designers Richard Cambier and Vinit Agarwal have been promoted to director and co-director respectively, which would surely imply that they've been given a development team to lead on... something.
The big question now is what exactly the two could be working on. Agarwal's profile notes a wealth of experience in developing multiplayer titles, which may suggest that Naughty Dog's current focus is entirely directed on The Last Of Us Part II multiplayer. This project was initially intended to be a mode included with last year's single-player game, but it was ultimately decided that it was getting too ambitious and would be better served as its own, standalone release.
"You will eventually experience the fruits of our team's online ambition, but not as The Last Of Us Part II," Naughty Dog wrote at the time. "When and where it will be realised is still to be determined. But rest assured, we are as big a fan of Factions as the rest of our community, and are excited to share more when it's ready."
Back in August last year, some very rough footage of what looked like a multiplayer mode for The Last Of Us Part II leaked online, suggesting that the project was still in the early stages of development. If Naughty Dog's ambitions for this spinoff have only grown since then, it'd make sense to bring on two new directors to lead the team working on it.
Of course there's also a chance that Cambier and Agarwal are directing separate projects, but the latter's new title of "co-director" would suggest the pair are collaborating. As always, we'll have to wait and see. Given that fact that The Last Of Us Part II won over 200 GOTY awards in 2020, I can't imagine Naughty Dog wants to start rushing things now.
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