As the credits rolled on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, I was internally beaming at the fact that Naughty Dog have stated that they will not be making another Uncharted game. This isn’t to say that Uncharted 4 doesn’t hit the mark – it does in nearly every single aspect – but due to the fact that they have wrapped up Nathan Drake’s story and the characters that inhabit his world in the most pitch-perfect way that it would do them a disservice to return to it.
We reconvene with Nate and Elena as they are trying to make a go of living a normal life. “Are you happy?” Elena asks Nate as they lay on the couch after playing video-games and eating noodles. Although he says that he is, all signs point to the fact that a life of normality just isn’t for Nathan Drake. If he isn’t treasure hunting then he isn’t doing what he truly loves, just merely existing. Just as Nate has resigned himself to a normal life, his presumed-dead brother Sam appears out of nowhere and presents Nate with an opportunity to return to the life he had thought he had left behind.
Almost every aspect of this game improves on what has come before it, creating the best Uncharted game to date. The story is the best it has ever been, focusing on the hunt for a long-lost pirate treasure which leads Drake from the frosty mountain-tops of Scotland to the lush plains of Madagascar and everywhere between. The story forgoes any of the heavily admonished supernatural elements evident in the previous games in favour of a more grounded story. I was heavily invested in and cared about the goings on in a way which I hadn’t always done in previous Uncharted games, so much so that I was taking the time to read every document and item description in order to garnish more details about the fate of the pirate captain Henry Avery and his men. Although slightly overlong and drawn out in the latter stages, the story excels, and coupled with the perfectly pitched, more introspective character moments, you have a swashbuckling tale worthy of any medium – the perfect send off to Playstation’s leading man.
Mechanically speaking, the gunplay is better than ever, a feature of Uncharted games which is routinely criticised. I’ve never really had an issue with it myself, and here it feels great, and used in conjunction with the new rope swinging mechanics just feels downright fun. Leaping off a ledge away from an explosion and grasping a rope to swing round a cliff face before dropping onto an enemy, crushing your fist into his face and catching his shotgun as it pops up into the air will never not be fun, and it’s in these moments that make Uncharted special. The action set-pieces are fantastic also, rivalling those of Uncharted 2 and 3, most notably a terrific sequence involving a jeep coarsing through the cobbled streets of a coastal Madagascan town.
It would be unfair to come all this way and not mention the fact that I think Uncharted 4 is the best looking game I’ve ever played. That may sound like hyperbole, but every aspect of the visuals are outstanding. The animations and facial expressions allow for a greater depth of storytelling and an unmatched level of performance capture, whilst the environments are expansive yet intricately detailed. It’s no wonder that some people are saying that Uncharted 4 is the best argument against the heavily rumoured announcement of an upgraded PS4.
In all, Naughty Dog have created yet another masterpiece, sending Nathan Drake off into the sunset in the most beautiful fashion. Now it’s time to wait and see what they have in store for us next, and be it The Last Of Us 2 or something entirely new, it’s sure to be of the highest standard if their track record is anything to go by.