Fans won’t have to wait long for Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us Part II,” as Sony announced Monday the game will arrive June 19.
The sequel was originally slated to launch May 29, but was “indefinitely” delayed earlier this month due to COVID-19. Developer Naughty Dog said in a statement at the time that the delay was purely for business purposes, as development was nearly complete. It made sense because a game with such a large budget and marketing scope wouldn’t be nearly as successful with just a digital launch. It’s no different than certain Hollywood studios releasing some movies straight to digital, while holding others back and delaying them until the world has a better handle on this virus.
The new release date announcement came as a surprise to many. When Sony announced the delay, it removed “The Last of Us Part II,” along with “Iron Man VR,” from the PlayStation Store and refunded anyone who had preordered it up to that point. It really seemed like the game wouldn’t come out until much later in the year. So an essentially three-week delay is surprising, but reassuring for fans who have looked forward to this release for some time.
The announcement of the shortened delay coincided with a massive slew of leaks this week, which reveal major plot points. A tester somehow managed to record footage of an older build of the game and released it on various websites. Rumors and reports of plot developments and even character deaths quickly spread across the Internet. The veracity for some rumors is still undetermined, but many of the leaks have been confirmed true by people with insider knowledge.
In an official statement, Naughty Dog condemned the leaks and offered its sympathies to fans who have been looking forward to the game.
“We know the last few days have been difficult for you. We feel the same,” the developer stated. “‘The Last Of Us Part II’ will be in your hands soon. No matter what you see and hear, the final experience will be worth it.“
Leaks are nothing new in the video game industry. Last year, much of the Pokedex for “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield” was leaked nearly a month before the game arrived. Many were disappointed to not be able to discover on their own what Pokemon would be available. But for a game like “The Last of Us Part II,” where the narrative and character development is just as important as the gameplay, leaks are even worse. So much of the game is based around the events that happen to Ellie and Joel, and getting to experience them in real-time on your first playthrough is important. To be spoiled about major plot events more than two months before the game comes out is disheartening for any fan.
Hopefully, those interested in the game can dodge spoilers for the next two months to enjoy a pure experience on June 19.
With the announcement of a firm release date for “The Last of Us Part II,” Sony also pushed back Sucker Punch’s “Ghosts of Tsushima,” which was originally slated for release on June 26. It will now be available July 17. “Ghosts of Tsushima” is based on feudal Japan and is described as an action-adventure game with stealth elements. The slight delay gives Sucker Punch’s game a bit of breathing room from “The Last of Us Part II,” and ensures the developer has a little extra time to squash any last minute bugs.
While the leaks are disheartening and the idea of additional delays are frustrating for fans, it’s good to see that at least one publisher is returning to normalcy — even if only by a little bit. COVID-19 has ravaged the world for several months, and it seems there’s now a light — however dim it may still be — at the end of the tunnel. No, video games are not “essential,” but it’s good to see that the virus’s effects might finally be slowing down.