In the world of the popular videogame The Last of Us, September 26th, 2013, is the date where the cordyceps fungus infection reached ‘critical mass’, i.e. when the first game started. Therefore this date has become a day for the fans and the developers of the series to come together and celebrate the games through the sharing of fan-art, merchandise and other goodies. Originally known as Outbreak Day, the name was changed this year to The Last of Us Day so as to avoid offending anyone personally affected by the ongoing real-life pandemic. After the undeniably controversial release of The Last of Us Part II on the 19th June 2020, the celebrations this year can work towards reuniting fans based on their love for the story, characters and world created by Naughty Dog.
The celebrations started early on Friday with the announcement of new products and freebies. Firstly, they announced that there will be a vinyl release of the game’s soundtrack by Mondo and art by Tula Lotay. Following in the tradition of previous The Last of Us Days (Outbreak Days), there will also be 2 screen-printed posters available until the end of September, also by Mondo and Lotay. Another major reveal was the announcement of an original board game created by CMON, who also worked on the Bloodborne board game and the God of War card game, so their experience with translating Sony’s exclusive videogames into physical games should result in an enjoyable time for fans of tabletop games. Finally, Naughty Dog revealed new merchandise, a free PS4 system theme, discounts on the games themselves, a cosplay guide for Abby and a photo mode contest. The main The Last of Us Day celebrations continued at 9 am PT the next day.
At the top of the list of expectations leading up to this day is the reveal of the standalone multiplayer mode for the sequel after it was cancelled this time last year, due to the scope of the single-player narrative. Fans were also looking forward to some news regarding PS5 updates and enhancements for The Last of Us Remastered and Part II. Unfortunately, no information was shared by Naughty Dog regarding these but it can be fair to assume that we will get some sort of update for the PlayStation 5 given that Naughty Dog is one of Sony’s most prestigious first-party studios. Also, the chances of a new multiplayer game/mode seem high as Naughty Dog did say we’d “eventually experience the fruits of our team’s online ambition”, but it is unclear when they’ll say more.
Nevertheless, Naughty Dog did show off new artwork and merch which will surely excite many dedicated fans. The new posters (which are also used for the cover of the vinyl album) features Ellie on one side with Abby facing away and the opposite for the other poster. They make use of distinct colour schemes for each character with the background symbolizing who they are. They also worked with Yoji Shinkawa and Kojima Productions to create a free Metal Gear-esque wallpaper for mobile and desktop. One of the more comedic offerings for The Last of Us Day is the reaction GIFs based on The Last of Us Part II. It’s hard not to laugh seeing Joel acting like The Dark Knight’s Joker or seeing Abby and Owen recreate the famous Predator handshake. Besides these, they also showed off a better look at the new merchandise which went on sale, including apparel from Graph.
From a fan perspective, this day consists of sharing personal stories about their experiences with the game, fan art, cosplay and any other projects that they’ve been inspired to create after playing the games. The series is filled with small but poignant details that many people may not know about, so this day acts as an excuse to share these details which motivates many fans to simply play the games again. If you look on Twitter or Reddit for example, you can find many fans from around the world sharing their love for the series with screenshots (created with the in-game photo mode) accompanied with short comments about the impact the games have had on their lives and why this day means so much to them. To celebrate The Last of Us Day, TLOU Strategist organised a full-day live stream alongside several other YouTubers and streamers featuring the multiplayer of the first game, permadeath runs and Part II speedruns.
A special pre-#TheLastofUsDay edition of #FanArtFriday! Thank you to everyone that shares their talent, passion, and creativity with us week after week. Submit your creations here: https://t.co/rkNPoi2lDv
Art by Vertigo Zoso, ZBatz, Laura Andrade, and Ollie Hoff. pic.twitter.com/eeI7Clop2V
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) September 25, 2020
Despite the lack of any new regarding PS5 or multiplayer, the day did provide many ways to celebrate The Last of Us by offering the typical array of merch, posters and digital freebies. Nevertheless, there was a glimmer of hope for fans at the end of the day as Neil Druckmann (Naughty Dog Vice President and co-creator of The Last of Us) thanked fans for their positivity and love and also “about that other thing… be patient. It’ll be worth it” which seemingly confirms that multiplayer news will be coming eventually.