The story of Uncharted 4 is set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Nathan Drake is now settled into a semi-normal life with Elena when Nathan’s brother, Sam Drake returns from the dead. It doesn’t take long before things feel familiar and the Drake brothers are on the treasure hunt of their life.
The narrative of Uncharted 4 is much more slow-paced than previous iterations. It focuses on Nathan Drake’s upbringing and the hardships that he has gone through in his earlier years. I absolutely loved the way that the story was told. It hit all the right notes and whilst it’s not the fast-paced non-stop story that we’ve come to know, it really does a great job of fleshing out the inner-workings of Nathan Drake and providing an insight into why he craves adventure and solving mysteries.
Without going into too much detail, The Uncharted franchise has always struggled with creating memorable villains. Without a doubt, the villains in Uncharted 4 are the most memorable and well-written to date. They are integral to the story as a whole, and are believable in how they relate to the backstory of both Nathan and Sam Drake.
There are so many special moments that i’d like to pinpoint, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. There are so many surprises and moments that pull at the heartstrings and I want to make sure that you experience that first hand. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End really is a fitting end to Nathan Drake’s story.
It goes without saying that Naughty Dog are on top of the game when it comes to presentation. Uncharted 4 is without a doubt the best looking game on PlayStation 4. The vast and varied landscapes are absolutely incredible and I often found myself stopping to take in the sights. In terms of draw distance, Uncharted 4 takes it to a whole new level. You’ll climb to new sites and have incredible views to take in.
Naughty Dog have gone out of their way to make absolutely everything in the environment look important. Whether it’s the way that puddles look when the light shines on them or the way that the shrubbery moves as you brush past it. It really makes a difference and takes immersion to the next level. The animations and mo-capping are second-to-none. The single player does run at 30FPS which some people will look down on, but I didn’t find it to hamper the experience.
Uncharted 4’s soundtrack is absolutely incredible. Naughty Dog had huge shoes to fill coming from The Last Of Us. Henry Jackman was in charge of the score, previously known for his work in a number of superhero films. The soundtrack sets the tone for some of the best moments of the game. It knows when to be subtle, leading up to a big moment and it knows when to ramp up and fit the set pieces perfectly.
Uncharted 4 has made serious improvements in all aspects of gameplay. It’s clear that Naughty Dog learnt a lot in creating The Last Of Us and a lot of these elements have been brought across to Uncharted 4. There are some slight pacing issues in the earlier parts of the game, but I understand why these sections were necessary to tie up the story. The platforming elements feel a lot less repetitive in the sense that you’ll be using different vehicles and environmental objects to get around areas In particular, the new grappling hook is prominent from start to finish and really does well to break up the extensive climbing that the Uncharted 4 series is known for.
Gunplay is a much tighter experience in Uncharted 4. Whilst it will feel hugely familiar, it feels much more satisfying with guns having a more realistic sense of recoil. Enemies will now come at you from all angles which makes you genuinely think about a strategy of attack for all firefights. This is easily the biggest improvement in gameplay. For the most part, you’re no longer locked into repetitive firefights that take place in narrow corridors. You’re able to use the environment as part of your arsenal. You’re also able to take an all-guns-blazing approach with your vehicle or pull it back and go for a more stealth approach.
The puzzles in Uncharted 4 are the most satisfying of the series to date. They feel like they are integral to the story, and don’t feel like they are shoe-horned in for the sake of it. They are genuinely cleverly and I wish that there were more of them.
Naughty Dog have done incredibly well to create more open locations. The previously released Madagascar demo is a great example of this. There are several of these locations that are not truly open-world, but feel far less linear than what the series has previously dished up. They allow you to genuinely feel like you’re a treasure hunting explorer, rather than just a mass killing machine.
The adventure will last you between 12-15 hours depending on how much you explore these open areas and look for treasure. Naughty Dog have given plenty of reason to play through the game on subsequent occasions. You’re able to play through the game with a number of different filters, use the weapon selector to use any weapon or spend huge amount of times taking in the beautiful sites with photo mode. There’s also a bunch of skins and concept art to unlock. Obviously, there’s also a ton of treasure for you to find as well.
In Uncharted 4, the multiplayer genuinely feels great to play. It’s much more team-based than previous entries in the series. The addition of the grappling hook makes it much more faster-paced and every match felt incredibly even and competitive. The introductions of mysticals, powers taken from the Uncharted franchise, have also thoroughly improved it. At launch, it’ll launch with a modest 4 modes and 8 maps. Naughty Dog have already detailed that they’ll be supporting the game for months to come with free content including new competitive modes, co-op and new mysticals.
At the end of Uncharted 4, I was able to sit back and feel satisfied. Uncharted 4 is the perfect conclusion of Nathan Drake’s journey and swan song to one of PlayStation’s most successful franchises. Naughty Dog have managed to improve the game in almost every way and was able to give me things that I didn’t even know I wanted. It is without doubt the best PlayStation 4 exclusive available; It finds the perfect balance between polished gameplay, outstanding visuals and immersive storytelling. Uncharted 4 has made me extremely excited to see what Naughty Dog move onto next.
The PS4 version of Uncharted 4 was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.