Naughty Dog's new IP relies on strong AI, and that goes for your partner as well as your enemies.
Naughty Dog's The Last of Us will not feature co-op play, its creative director Neil Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley have confirmed. They want to take their new IP in a completely different direction, and that means among other things that Ellie, the main character's constant companion, will be completely AI controlled. There will be multiplayer, but both Druckmann and Straley refused to be drawn on exactly what multiplayer meant for The Last of Us.
"Strong AI is an important focus for The Last of Us," the Naughty Dog team said, and stressed that the enemy AI had been designed to provide dynamic, realistic opposition. Your partner Ellie has also been designed "to be a very capable ally who provides vital mutual aid to Joel in overcoming obstacles. In and out of combat situations," they promised, adding "[she] will be a valuable resource throughout the game." She's not just a combat assist, but also a problem solver vital to Joel's continued survival. Without her helping Joel scavenge and navigate the environment the player is pretty much doomed, so the AI's strength is really going to be key to the game's success.
This lack of co-op is a deliberate strategy, which goes hand-in-hand with their carefully designed character arcs and performances. "We've worked very hard to maintain the depth of character and performance that Naughty Dog is known for," they said. "It's our goal in The Last of Us that you, as the player, become so invested in the characters, the story, and the tension of our gameplay mechanics, that your own emotions mirror those expressed within the game by Joel and Ellie at any given moment."
The Last of Us is scheduled for a 2013 release.
Source: Gaming Examiner