For big fans of The Last of Us, Sept. 26 has a special meaning. It's... well, it's the day in Naughty Dog's fiction where shit hit the fan, marking the day that humanity was blindsided by the cordyceps brain infection that turns people into shambling fungal zombies. The Last of Us isn't exactly a happy-go-lucky series, so sure, why not peg its annual fan celebration to the worst day in fictional human history?
Well, this year and for the years to come, Sept. 26 will be The Last of Us Day for Naughty Dog. The developer says that it has "a lot of exciting things planned" for the day, which falls on Saturday this year.
Previously, the fan celebration day was known as "Outbreak Day," but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naughty Dog has decided to abandon that moniker from here on out. "While the name and date are rooted in the fiction of the game, September 26 means so much more than lore," reads a statement from the studio. "It's about showing our appreciation for our fans."
As for the "exciting things" coming on Saturday, don't expect a grand DLC announcement. Back in June, creative director Neil Druckmann said plainly that there were no plans to make a "Left Behind" equivalent for The Last of Us Part 2.
Still, it's possible that Naughty Dog could push some new content out as part of the fan day. Last month, the team released a free update for The Last of Us Part 2 that added the extra-difficult Grounded mode (plus a corresponding credits easter egg), an option for permadeath, and some fancy modifiers for the gameplay and visual style. More ways to replay the game with new tweaks aren't out of the realm of possibility.
There's also a chance we could hear about some tinkering Naughty Dog's been able to do with the PlayStation 5. We know that The Last of Us: Remastered is joining the new PlayStation Plus Collection when the PS5 launches, but we haven't heard details on whether any of those titles will enjoy tangible boosts in performance thanks to Sony's new hardware and backward compatibility solution. If there are boosts on the way, it'd make sense to see Naughty Dog show them off first (but also, here's hoping Bloodborne runs better on PS5).
We'll see whatever it is Naughty Dog's got cooking up for The Last of Us Day soon. In the meantime, maybe I should go back and play Dead Rising—a different zombie game that just so happens to kick off on my birthday. At this point, there's just so much pop culture on the undead out there that it's probably hard to find a day that doesn't have a grim zombie association.