After working on The Last of Us and Uncharted, there's a cryptic tease that Naughty Dog could be developing a fantasy game.
With Naughty Dog seeming to have the Midas touch when it comes to developing video games, has the acclaimed house behind the Uncharted and Last of Us games set it sights on its next big project? While the early days of Naughty Dog are remembered for bringing Crash Bandicoot to life, it was the company's acquisition by Sony in 2001 that took it into a new era and its current trajectory to becoming one of the best-loved video game developers of all time.
Fantasy fans are in for a treat as Sony's next-gen offerings have everything from Horizon Forbidden West to God of War: Ragnarok, however, has anyone else noticed that Naughty Dog has been a little quiet recently? Although we're all expecting The Last of Us Part III is out there somewhere, the latest whispers suggest the developer will be tackling an ambitious fantasy game as its next major title.
What is the Naughty Dog fantasy game?
Posting on their ArtStation account, Naughty Dog Senior Concept Artist Hyoung Nam shared three pieces of work that feature women in a variety of fantasy-inspired scenes. Adding fuel to the fire, Nam captioned the artwork with the words, "Inspire from new game. You know what I'm talking about...". One piece features a woman sitting next to a slain dragon, while the second has another holding a staff with a human skull and wearing some macabre bones as a ceremonial headdress. The final includes another dressed in bones.
At the time of writing, it's unclear whether this is from something new, something that was cancelled, or just a bit of fun. Still, Nam's cryptic caption suggests there's more to the story. Despite the mould-infested zombies of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog's games are usually pretty grounded as they pitch humans against each other. It's easy to imagine a story that throws a primal civilisation against another human enemy in the midst of a lost land that's plagued by monsters and magic.
Going against the idea of a Naughty Dog fantasy game, it's important to remember the developer probably wouldn't announce an AAA game via ArtStation, and that Namm says the work is "inspired" by a new game, meaning it's not necessarily something Naughty Dog is developing. Either way, we're getting some serious Horizon/The Witcher vibes from Nam's work.
Will we see a Naughty Dog fantasy game?
The latest update comes just after Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann hinted there's an imminent announcement on the horizon. Just days ago, Druckmann shared job listings on Twitter and invited potential talent to join the Naughty Dog team. Although Druckmann didn't add anything else, there was a varied slate of listings that included a Character Concept Artist and Single-Player Level Designer/Environment Designer. Some of the positions are temporary, however, most are permanent and hint at something big.
Even though The Last of Us Part II hit consoles last year, the long-awaited game sequel started conceptualisation during The Last of Us's development in 2013. Naughty Dog might not quite be ready to announce what's next, but you can bet the studio has at least decided what it's going to be working on next. If there's more to the concept art, get ready for a very different title from the studio Crash built.
Images via Naughty Dog | ArtStation