It has nearly been four and a half years since we have had a new entry in the Uncharted franchise. Having produced three of the best experiences on the PlayStation 3 and one portable outing, the series introduced us to the death-defying, treasure hunter Nathan Drake. It is nearly time to begin the last leg of Drake’s adventure. Having had multiple issues during the development phase with staff departures and numerous delays, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is now complete. What is the story of Uncharted 4? What is new? All of these questions and more will be covered as we bring you;
Everything you need to know about Uncharted 4.
Way back in 2013, we had our first teaser trailer for the, at the time, untitled Uncharted sequel. The footage displayed a map of Africa being constructed following the journey of famous pirates. Narrated by Todd Stashwick, who played a character in the game (We’ll cover that later), he describes how he has “lost fifteen years, buried alive, erased.” He then states, presumably towards Nate, “You left me rotting, in that hellhole”. As the camera pans over the map, we see notes being written such as “Every betrayed us all” and “abandon your hopes”. The clip concludes with the sentence, “you owe me”. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End seemed to have a much darker story than previously experienced.
Naughty Dog announced that the project would be led by Amy Hennig and Justin Richmond, both returning from the previous installments. Sadly, due to unexplained circumstances, both of the integral members of the production team departed Naughty Dog and left for other studios. Drafted in to take over the project were Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley whose previous work included Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and the critically acclaimed The Last of Us.
Allegedly, 8 months of production work was scrapped and how much of the original project remains, we are still unsure. Todd Stashwick, who appeared in the first teaser trailer also departed the project. At E3 in 2014, we saw the next trailer from the hugely anticipated title.
This time, we saw Nathan Drake face down in the sand. As he wakes up and loads his gun, we can here a conversation between Nate and Sully with Nathan exclaiming, “I’ve been out of the game”. Nate enters the jungle and we see cages hanging from the trees with skeletons residing within them. Captured directly from a PS4, we got the first confirmation of the title, Uncharted: 4 A Thief’s End.
At PSX that same year we saw our first in-game footage and at E3 2015, we got the best trailer yet. 15 minutes of glorious, action-packed drama which included everything fans love about the series. In the clip, we witnessed incredible action scenes, humor, destructible environments and mesmerizing set-pieces.
Initially expected to launch in 2015, the game was delayed until March 2016 and since then, we have had multiple, albeit small delays. Finally, in March 2016, Naughty Dog announced that the game was complete and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End wold debut globally on May 10th 2016.
What Is The Plot Of Uncharted 4?
Very few details have been released about the plot but due to the number of trailers that have been released, we have been able to put together a rough idea of what the story could be.
Pirates. That is the recurring theme here. How much of the game was scrapped after the departure of Amy Hennig is unknown but that theme still seems to be the overarching plot. Other ideas that have, to some extent, remained from the original concept are the inclusion of Nate’s brother Sam and the legendary pirate, Henry Every. Once more referring to Todd Stashwick who narrated the initial trailer, he was allegedly playing Sam, who is now being portrayed by Troy Baker (Last of Us, Destiny). In the teaser, it would seem that Sam was the antagonist but from what we have seen in the more recent footage, Sam appears to have good intentions towards Nate, even if they could be perilous.
Henry Every also known as ‘The King Of Pirates’ is mentioned briefly in the first clip with the quotation “Every betrayed us all” and in the E3 footage, Nate and Sam directly refer to Every as the catalyst for their adventure. Who is this King of Pirates? Historians debate its legitimacy but allegedly, he founded the pirate colony of Libertalia. When pirates had no place to go after America claimed their independence from Britain, the band of sailors created a haven for themselves near Madagascar. Rumor has it that Every amassed a fortune of plunder and it all resided within Libertalia.
That is the central premise but smaller and just as interesting facts are known too, such as the events of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End take place many years after Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Nathan is now married to Elena and has retired from the exploration game for a more traditional job. Nate’s brother Sam, who Drake assumed was long dead, arrives at the workplace unexpectedly. It is Sam that encourages Nate to once more strap on his holster as he declares, “Nathan, I’m in a lot of trouble”.
Uncharted 4 certainly seems darker that the previous installments but rest assured that the humor, banter and cheek are still here in abundance.
Where has Sam been all this time? How is Nate and Elena’s relationship? These are questions that will ultimately be answered come May 10th.
What Characters Will Be In Uncharted 4?
Aside from Nate and Sam, what new characters and returning ones will feature in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End?
Still no word yet on other characters returning such as my favorites, Chloe and Cutter; but the main cast look and sounds great.
What Is New In Uncharted 4?
If you have played an Uncharted game previously, you will know what to expect on the gameplay front. Incredible action scenes, death-defying moments and intense gun battles. This will understandably be the best looking Naughty Dog game to date. The Last of Us which had lifelike facial animations consisted of 90-100 bones in their facial structure. Uncharted 4: At Thief’s End’s facial animations will be made from between 300-500 bones. This gives you an indication of how good the entirety of the game will look. Running at 30fps in single-player and 60fps in multiplayer, Uncharted 4 will be a technical marvel.
With the creative leads, Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, having worked on The Last of Us, expect to see aspects of that here. Rarely are you alone in The Last of Us as you have Ellie or others by your side, assisting you in multiple ways. This dynamic will be used here with Sully and Sam accompanying you through the segments we’ve seen thus far. Do not expect to see them simply cower away and not be productive, as they will support you on the battlefield. Dynamic storytelling will evolve through this mechanic too as the characters will converse about the current predicament. They may jokingly reference a near death experience or alert you of environmental activities.
You will see examples of this as our heroes are driving in the jeep which is also a new addition to the series. Uncharted has always been a very linear experience and thrived because of the attention of detail that allows. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will be more expansive than ever. Do not expect an open world, but more variation when heading towards your objective. This allows the jeep to be used for more than just driving from point A to B as you will be able to explore. The jeep can drive up steep cliffs, be used as a weapon and assist with puzzles. A winch, which is attached to the front, can be used for traversal or pulling down objects.
When not in the car, the gun fights will feel fresh too. Stealth has been implemented here and you can now tag enemies to track their every movement. A reticule above their head will display their status which you can manipulate to your benefit. By causing a distraction, you can lure an enemy to their demise or carefully eliminate a foe one by one.
The newest tool available to Drake is the grapple hook. This gadget can be used to achieve a number of feats. Unlike in other games, where to use a similar tool is predefined, the hook in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has its own physics system. This allows for you to be creative with it as you can use it to climb, swing around corners or felling your enemies.
Smaller yet just as important additions include the option to choose Nate’s responses in scenes. This will not happen too frequently but as seen in the above clip with Sam, you have the option of recounting the narrative of any of the previous titles, which allows this tale to be more personal to you. After all, we have known Nathan for nearly ten years, we know how he feels right?
These are the few details we have confirmed but no doubt there will many more surprises in store for us when the game releases. Remember when we played as a young Drake in Uncharted 3? No one anticipated that and there are rumors that we may have the opportunity to play as Sir Francis Drake but only time will tell.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks set to be a fitting end for our hero. I hope he finally settles down with Elena and starts a family but Druckmann has recently stated that the ending will be divisive.
Are you looking forward to Uncharted 4? Do you want this to be the last outing? Let us know in the comments below.
An Englishman living in Australia. I edit and provide video/written reviews for all of the latest games.