When Uncharted 3 released in 2011 to critical acclaim, it was almost a year later when gamers took note of a small, in-game easter egg. Creative director Neil Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley have revealed that the easter egg, which was designed to tease The Last of Us, was an accident and the result of scheduling changes and sheer forgetfulness.
The tease appears as a newspaper located in the corner of the pub in Uncharted 3's first chapter. It reads, "Scientists still struggling to understand deadly virus," a clear reference to Naughty Dog's upcoming survival-thriller The Last of Us. When the title was officially announced at the Spike Video Game Awards in December 2011, Naughty Dog had already been working on the title in secret for some time and had intended to announce it at E3 several months prior. Based on the original schedule, the Easter egg was harmlessly added to Uncharted 3 as a way to garner greater excitement for what was supposed to be an already-announced title.
When the schedule changed, however, and the reveal of The Last of Us was moved to after the release of Uncharted 3, the developer forgot to remove the newspaper, thus nearly causing internet sleuths to spoil the game's existence early.
In the same interview, Straley briefly attempted to explain the reason why such a potentially destructive mistake was overlooked:
"These games are so big, right. They're several hours long. Every single pixel has to be touched. Every animation is created from hand. It's overwhelming. You can't look over every detail," he said. "So this one little thing in the background, nobody's thinking about that."
Fortunately for Naughty Dog, most gamers and journalists deemed it unlikely that the traditionally one-game studio would be working on another title in such rapid fashion after Uncharted 3, let alone simultaneously. Thus, the reveal of The Last of Us one month after the launch of Uncharted 3 created the very anticipation and excitement the developer had hoped for.
Explaining the general reaction to the easter egg, Druckmann said, "It can't be Naughty Dog, because they just shipped Uncharted 3."