Four years in the making have come down to this. May 10th, 2016 marked the day that proved what next generation gaming could be like. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End hit the shelves with fans either lining up for midnight launches or waiting by the door for the post to deliver what promised to be the best looking game to date.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, a farewell to a gaming icon who had taken us on insane adventures for the past ten years. Nathan Drake was officially going on his last adventure. The Uncharted series, known for its relatable characters, incredible set pieces, and sometimes frustrating puzzles, was giving us one last hurrah.
This Article contains some spoilers. If you are okay with that then scroll past Happy Nathan.
This didn’t come without its complications as news of retailers released it two weeks ahead of the official launch in some countries. This was partially due to a last minute delay and release date change on Naughty Dog’s part to improve some aspects of the game. The internet went into an uproar as players who had got their hands on the game first started posting spoilers all over social media platforms.
The game’s main objective was to answer questions players had about Nathan’s past and his relationships with other characters, namely Elena and Sully. Unfortunately, characters like Chloe and Cutter aren’t in the game but are respectively mentioned and not forgotten.
With the introduction of Samuel Drake (Troy Baker), Nathan’s estranged brother who he thought had been killed, allowed Naughty Dog to integrate his character as a major plot device. Sam is several years Nate’s senior, which he makes sure to remind the player throughout the story through optional dialog, game play, and cut scenes. Due to his captivity in Panama, Sam missed out on all the adventures from Uncharted 1-3 and in Golden Abyss. The obsession for adventure that Sam craves has Nate questioning whether he is willing to risk his new life for the dangerous the field of treasure hunting.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End takes us between different stages of Nathan Drake’s life – from him as a child to present day. The plot leaves you at the edge of your seat with great storytelling and pacing. The gun fights, utilizing the set pieces and battlegrounds, come with many more options such as the grappling hook and other surprises. I didn’t use it as much during battles than I did to cross massive gaps and gorges. The non-playable characters were also incredibly helpful as they jump into the fight and help you with combos to take an enemy down. There are also little cut scenes built into the game play, which is amazing to watch as there is no obvious difference with the character design.
There are also moments containing easter eggs and surprises that left me laughing out load or in awe. I also found myself in tune with the emotions of the characters during situations. During the first two hours of game play, I cried twice. The performance of each character is so believable – from their expressions to subtle movements. One character I was incredibly blown away with is Rafe Adler (Warren Kole), the proposed villain. For a man who is clearly somewhere between his late twenties to early thirties, Rafe played the part well. Unlike any other Uncharted game, this one gave him a back story that was both convincing and intriguing.
Nolan North came back strong integrating his personality into Nate’s character with more ‘Oh crap’ moments, little smartass quips, and a lot of climbing. Emily Rose had her moments portraying dismay when Elena finds out Nathan’s been lying to her all along. During sequences when playing with both Nate and Elena, the two really show that they are husband and wife, even during major situations and cut scenes. My issue with them in the past was that there wasn’t much exposition on their relationship as things usually went south between games resulting in their break up. In Uncharted 4, moments are littered around the game that show you the extent of how deep their relationship has gotten since the end of the last game.
In terms of open world, this time around there is no real linear path to proceed at times. Navigating terrain such as muddy landscapes to cliffs, this game comes with a lot of options to get around nature. With the help of jeeps for off-roading in Madagascar, it is easier to cover more land quickly but it is recommended to search areas thoroughly before proceeding so to not miss out on treasure or notes.
Taking a page out of the “The Last of Us‘” book – no pun intended, Uncharted 4 has incorporated notes written by pirates on their own pursuit for Henry Avery’s treasure. As a subplot or side story, I highly recommend finding as many as you can as it adds even more substance to the story. Journal entries and optional conversations are also integral as they add more content to Nate’s journal. I always find it amusing to read over all of his notes near the end of the game as he includes funny sketches or annotations.
Is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End worth playing? Definitely! As a fan or someone who wants to experience how powerful the Unreal Engine 4 is for the PS4, this game proves how advanced gaming will become in 2016 and in the years ahead.