It looks like today's rumors were right on the money. The Last Of Us' multiplayer suite does indeed let players create a character, craft items, join a faction and keep a selection of NPC survivors alive through several tense days and weeks.
A selection of US press previews confirm the existence of Factions mode along with gameplay details. TSA and Nowgamer report that players initially join one of two clans - the Hunters or Fireflies - before being teamed up with three player allies and a some NPC survivors (they don't appear during matches, we assume) who grow in number as you successfully complete matches. Starting out on Day 1 Week 1, your burgeoning group will be continually beset by daily events such as sickness or infected attacks, which represented as single multiplayer matches.
Two game modes are on offer, or at least have been revealed thus far. Supply Raid forces teams into battles over supplies with a shared stock of twenty lives, while Survivor has no respawns, making for some incredibly tense engagements.
Stealth will play a major role when you encounter a rival team, as will the 'listen' mode that lets you detect sounds and movement through walls. Skills (think Perks) will be available to mitigate this effect. Each map contains crafting components that can be assembled at the risk of being blindsided, Players will also be able to customise their outfits, emblems and weapon loadouts.
Participating in matches rewards you with extra survivors and supplies, which can be gleaned from fallen foes or converted from actions such as healing or kills. Supplies will effectively function like XP, and can be spent on new weapons, buffs and upgrades.
The multiplayer will tie into the storyline, apparently, in that some familiar characters/models will appear as survivors. More details are available through the links above.
The Last Of Us is out next Friday, and Matt is currently hard at work on our full review. Expect it very soon.