The Last of Us Part 2 has had one of the rockiest lead-ups to release in recent memory. Beset by two delays for and a significant leak, Naughty Dog's highly anticipated sequel is still a way out from launch. Today, though, is hopefully a day for the team to celebrate: The Last of Us Part 2 has gone gold, meaning production is wrapped and a build is ready for distribution.
Announced via Twitter with a video message from Naughty Dog VP Neil Druckmann, writer/director for both The Last of Us titles, the milestone is almost certainly a bittersweet one. "Normally this would be a moment of celebration," says Druckmann. "You know, we'd be at the office having a drink, eating cake. But, we're all stuck in our homes, and I just want to take this moment to congratulate the team that has pulled off the most ambitious game we've ever made."
Druckmann notes that The Last of Us Part 2's second delay, related to logistical issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, has also allowed for a few weeks of extra polish. The initial delay from February 2020 to May was solely said to be for polish, though those development plans were likely also impacted by the team-wide transition to work from home.
In March, Kotaku published a report on working conditions at Naughty Dog's offices after the initial delay, describing an intense crunch period and a culture of burnout stretching out across past development cycles. When major details from The Last of Us Part 2 were leaked late last month, many referenced Naughty Dog's reported reliance on crunch while speculating on the leak's origins—Sony has since confirmed that the leakers in question do not have any affiliation with Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Even with today's announcement, Naughty Dog is warning fans to be careful of spoilers posted in the replies. Given the nature of the leak, it has been easy for people to post short spoilers across the web and social media, so if you're at all concerned about being spoiled, now would be a good time to avoid certain forums and to mute character names and other proper nouns related to The Last of Us that spring to mind.
Leak, delays, and other hardships aside, Druckmann ends the video on a positive note. "No matter what you've seen, or heard, or read, nothing compares to playing this thing from beginning to end," he says.
The Last of Us Part 2 will launch for the PlayStation 4 on June 19. Sony also pushed the launch of Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima—perhaps its last major first-party release before the launch of the PlayStation 5—to July 17.