Naughty Dog took the Uncharted title into outer space this year at E3. The gameplay showcased for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is truly a stunning testament to a developer that has fully committed itself to the franchise, and most importantly, to the fans.
Naughty Dog have never strayed too far from their original games ideology throughout the years. This, aside from the fact they are stellar games is why they amass more and more fans each year.
The Gameplay Demo
This year's E3 gameplay did not disappoint. The gameplay demo captured the very same tongue-in-cheek attitude and witty back-and-forth between Drake and Sully that we all fell in love with in the previous games.
Drake and mentor-sidekick Sully are innocently making their way through town, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere the two are ambushed by heavily armed thugs. The pair are tasked to fight their way through the ambush and onwards down the hillside.
I should say at this point that, something that became overwhelmingly obvious to me was that the amount of violence in Uncharted 4 is ramped right up. And I love it.
The two duck, dive and shoot their way through the marketplace and into a Jeep. The two make it through the market almost unscathed until a mighty large truck appears in front of them laden with a heavy machine gun turret. This segment of gameplay sees the duo trying desperately to evade the hail of bullets coming from the rogue vehicle.
The two take to the roads at high speed, unable to lose their pursuers. They take right after right, left after left in an effort to lose the truck. This was a great way for Naughty Dog to show off the different dynamics that exist within Uncharted 4.
The pair are constantly interacting with the surrounding environment. The player crashes through fences and jumps over rooftops in the runaway Jeep. Each time either Drake or Sully will hang out of the Jeep, look back and apologize or tell a cheeky little joke.
When they finally reach the bottom of the hill, they spy the convoy they have been tracking. The convoy is making its way down a main highway that the two must link up with. Running out of energy, road and luck, Drake gets up close and brings out a grapple hook. He fires the hook at the last second and manages to link onto the target. The grapple was inspired by Naughty Dog's other baby, The Last of Us.
Drake desperately struggles to climb the wire but is thrown against the wall and through wooden scaffolding. He loses his grip, slipping further down the wire. Will Drake make it to the convoy? Take a look at the demo.
Drake's Final Chapter?
From what we have seen at E3 this year of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End only adds to instill that familiar sense of pride and excitement in a title many of us know so well. Drake became that treasure hunting alter ego for many of us way back in 2007 and has taken us on many an adventure over the years.
Drakes latest adventure looks to be bigger than ever.
Let's be honest, we have almost lost Drake a few times over the past eight years but we have always managed to scrape through. Sure, we may be a little battered and bruised but my gosh, we had some adventures. Could we really be done with Nathan Drake for good?
Speaking with Gamespot just yesterday, co-director Neil Druckmann dropped a few hints to suggest that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End may be the final entry in Drakes journal. Many of us overlooked this comment as either a slip of the tongue or a way to hype up Drakes latest title...
"I promised myself I wouldn't cry" - Gamertag Gaming Editor
Alas, this was not the case. Speaking today live from Los Angeles via Gamespot's live stream event, lead designer Kurt Margenau said that they have worked extremely hard and put a lot of thought into the creation and direction of Drake's character.
Naughty Dog has thrilled over 21 million people with Drake's adventures to date. But, this will indeed be the last chapter of Nathan Drake's adventures.
"We are fulfilling that vision and it's going to be awesome. It's Nathan Drake's final chapter, so I think fans are going to be happy." - Kurt Margenau
That's the confirmation we were all dreading. As you can see however, the team at Naughty Dog did go on to say that although this will be the last we see of Drake, "the fans are going to be happy." So, there maybe light at the end of the tunnel.
Why Lose Drake?
The idea is that the first three games were the set-up to some big final cataclysmic event that would bring an end to the entire series. This has always been the plan from the pre-Uncharted days at Naughty Dog.
We have seen it far too often. A brilliant team is pressured into making another game in a series that has already reached its quite obvious conclusion. The result is usually a half-hearted disappointment to both developer and fan. Drake deserves better than this. We deserve better than this.
"Everything we're doing [with Uncharted 4] is constructed towards that; Bringing closure to a very long journey." - Naughty Dog
They Told Us Months Ago
Is this revelation that much of a surprise to us all?
The first hint we got at Gamertag came when we were told what the title for the fourth edition of the Uncharted series was going to be. A Thief's End? Who? What? ... (was the reaction here). This certainly suggested that something or someone was going to reach its concluding chapter.
The trailer that followed (above) gave us the second clue. The youthful Drake we were used to was gone. Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4 is not what you would call old by any stretch of the imagination but he seemed to have been made purposely older looking in this edition. We saw extended screen time focused on the aging face of our treasure hunting hero.
Okay, so they weren't massive hints but they all make sense looking back. Did you spot any clues before today's announcement?
The Future for Uncharted & Playstation
This is the end for Drake, no debate necessary but they did not say that this was the end of the series. Let's not forget that this series has sold more than 21 million copies and is one of Sony's flagship exclusives.
Is Drake's Brother the obvious choice?
Sam, Drake's brother is the clear character choice to lead the series through its post Nate years.
Spoiler: Uncharted 3. If you recount the events that unfolded in Uncharted 3 surrounding family history, you will recall that the story of Drake's connection to the great explorer Sir Francis Drake was a complete fabrication.
Drake was assumed to be an only child, but in Uncharted 4, Sam - his brother - turns up pleading for his help. Sony revealed this touching family moment at the extended E3 preview.
But what about Chloe Fraser? Let's talk...
The topic of Francis Drake is worth holding to. I have not taken the account given to us in Uncharted 3 as absolute. I would not be surprised if this latest adventure will not include some sort of Francis Drake feature. Maybe in the similar flashback style we saw in Uncharted 3.
The Movie Promise
Backing up those heavy sales is the fact there is also a movie currently in development over at Columbia Pictures for the Uncharted series.
I would imagine it to be National Treasure mixed with Tomb Raider. Hard-hitting, but available to all.
"It should be intense and more engaging for adults, and of course young teens as well." - Columbia Pictures senior vice president Jonathan Kadin
They are currently pushing for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to play Nathan Drake, with Channing Tatum AND Mark Wahlberg waiting in the wings. Who do you want as Drake?
Will We See Uncharted Again on Playstation?
Overall it does seem very unlikely that we will be seeing the end of the Uncharted series. The team at Naughty Dog are quite appropriately going to retire our favorite treasure hunting protagonist.
How they do this, however, is still unknown. Hopefully he will hit the motherload and retire to a nice house in the hills or he may see out his final hours with his finger held down on the trigger of an AK whilst his getaway chopper goes down in flames and crashes behind a hill. Who knows.
Either way, I reckon that the Uncharted series is here to stay. Playstation will not allow Naughty Dog to scuttle one of their best selling flagships. The future of the series is ironically uncharted, but doesn't that get you a little excited?
I would love to hear any fan predictions/theories below!
And as for who will take over after Drake in Uncharted 5: A New Beginning is also up for discussion. Yeah, I totally made up the title for the fifth installment.