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Sony delays ‘The Last of Us 2,’ ‘Iron Man VR,’ citing coronavirus

Early in "The Last of Us Part 2," players go on patrol with Ellie and Dina. The game has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Early in “The Last of Us Part 2,” players go on patrol with Ellie and Dina. The game has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 crisis.
(Naughty Dog / Sony)

“The Last of Us Part 2,” a game, in part, about the breakdown of society due to the spread of a highly contagious virus, has been delayed indefinitely by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The game, a twist on the zombie formula, was due May 29, which itself was a push from its original Feb. 21 release. This time, however, Santa Monica-based game developer Naughty Dog says “The Last of Us Part 2" is nearly complete, and Sony is citing “the global crisis” relating to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Logistically,” wrote the game publisher in a tweet, “the global crisis is preventing us from providing the launch experience our players deserve.”

Sony suggested no potential future release date, saying only that the game, a sequel to one of the industry’s most popular titles, would be delayed “until further notice.”

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The company is also delaying the launch of its “Iron Man VR” game, just at a time when home virtual reality is starting at long last to gain some momentum thanks to the hype surrounding recent releases such as “Half Life: Alyx” and “The Room VR: A Dark Matter.” “Iron Man VR,” from Bellevue, Wash.,-based Camouflaj, was originally slated for May 15.

Neil Druckmann, director of “The Last of Us Part 2,” shared a statement online from the studio and added in a tweet, “Ultimately, the situation is out of our control. We hope you understand.”

“The good news is,” reads the Naughty Dog statement, “we’re nearly done with the development of ‘The Last of Us Part 2. We are in the midst of fixing our final bugs.

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Ellie takes the lead in “The Last of Us” sequel, fighting zombies and her own feelings for Dina. And there’s a twist to your test over whether to kill those dogs.

“However,” it continues, “even with us finishing the game, we were faced with the reality that due to logistics beyond our control, we couldn’t launch ‘The Last of Us Part 2' to our satisfaction. We want to make sure everyone gets to play ‘The Last of Us Part 2' around the same time, ensuring that we’re doing everything possible to preserve the best experience for everyone. This meant delaying the game until such a time where we can solve these logistic issues.”

While stay-at-home orders are believed to be fueling interest in video games — turning “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” already one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises, into a social-media sensation — it remains to be seen, long-term, what toll the health crisis may take on the industry. This was a year in which new consoles were planned from Sony and Microsoft, yet Nintendo’s Switch, and its fitness game “Ring Fit Adventure” are reportedly in short supply and high-demand.

Games are a playground, a place to see what happens when we do what we aren’t told, and a world in which failure is embraced — welcomed, even — as a way to learn. Why play matters in times of stress.

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“The Last of Us Part 2" is one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2020. The original game, released in 2013, has been said by Sony to have topped 17 million copies sold. It was recently announced that a series based upon the game was in development for HBO.

The sequel focuses on the character Ellie, who in the first game spent her childhood and early teen years surviving the zombie-like apocalypse. Now 19, Ellie is protecting a Wyoming encampment from infected humans and dealing with emotional turmoil she’s suffered.

“We all have those moments where our mind tips in this very primitive, probably prehistoric way in which we survive,” said Druckmann in an interview with The Times shortly after extended scenes were previewed for the press in September. “It felt like we could make a game that explores the different facets of what that means.” Druckmann worked closely with writer and actress Halley Gross, who was previously a story editor and writer for HBO’s “Westworld.”

Major films, ranging from “Mulan” to the next James Bond film “No Time To Die,” have been delayed due to the pandemic, and theme parks such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World are closed indefinitely.

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