You may remember that somewhere in the dim recesses of history, Uncharted for PS4 was announced. It’s been a long and pretty rough road for Naughty Dog since, not least because Creative Director from the start – Amy Hennig, departed the studio under slightly mysterious circumstances. There followed a second high profile, but less controversial departure in Justin Richmond, and then shortly after we were told that the only actor confirmed for the game had upped sticks and followed Amy to Visceral Games, when she had begun working on a Star Wars title. But enough of the doom and gloom. Uncharted fans have finally got some sweet relief in the form of this teaser trailer.
Yes, it is short, but in light of the recent troubles at the studio it is enough to know that we are apparently back on track. The mantle left behind by Amy Hennig has been donned by both Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann, who were the main driving force behind Naughty Dog’s other current IP The Last of Us.
So what do we have? First thing to note – Nathan Drake is in it. Like he ever wasn’t going to be. Secondly, it doesn’t look like Nate has had an easy time of it, either. At first you might think he is having a kip, but then you notice the gash on his forehead (he’s going to have another scar there…), the fly which is bothering him, and the water that is lapping perilously close to his nose and mouth. And Sully. Sully who is still calling him “kid”.
Sully states that Nate has been “out of the game for a long time” but unless this is set in the future, it’s only three and a half or four years. I’ve had microwave meals in my freezer for longer than that. But it also suggests that Nate has at least tried to, for want of a much better expression, ‘settle down’, and the fact that he is (praise be) wearing a wedding ring gives that theory weight. There’s a large part of me which isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of Nate trying to live a normal person life; he just isn’t that guy. We saw in Uncharted 3; Drake’s Deception exactly what his start in life was, and it wasn’t one likely to prepare him for a mortgage, a daily commute and waiting around for the plumber. What are his transferable skills? He and Elena needed to find compromise, and I don’t think him “being out of the game” is one. Elena isn’t “that woman” any more that Nathan is “that guy”. That said, I am extrapolating a great deal, so I will reserve judgement.
Nate sits up, and straight away we see him to be skinnier than we last left him. I doubt this is an accident; it suggests that Nate’s life since Ubar has been less about shimmying up walls, and more about taking it easy. The lines around his eyes are also clearly visible; the PS4 truly does the man justice. Some of the Twitter reactions I have seen mention his increasing age, but lets just remember for a moment that he is still in his 30s. Yes, he is older (it happens to the best of us) but no, he is not “old”. The other thing to ask here is; where is his flashy belt buckle? In all previous titles Nate has accessorised with a fancy belt buckle, and I wonder whether its omission here is a way of suggesting further that he has grown up.
The dialogue over the images of not-quite-dead-wet-Nate (MP skin?) is that of Sully and Nathan discussing another jaunt to who knows where. It sounds as if Nate is trying to persuade Sully, who isn’t convinced, (“there’s no such thing as a sure fire plan”) and for a moment I feel like Nate just wants to be Nate, but then we hear “I don’t really have an option here” and we learn that this isn’t Nate’s choice. So what the hell has he been up to? As he comes to his feet it is clear that he hasn’t spent the time learning to tuck his shirt in. A theory that has been doing the rounds since even before the game was announced was that Elena has somehow been placed in danger for reasons unknown, and this would be Nate doing his ‘save the girl’ bit. But I don’t buy that for a lot of reasons, primarily because Naughty Dog are far better story writers than that and also because if Nate is “out of the game” why would anyone randomly want to harm his wife? The subtle hint of a threat made by Katherine Marlowe in Drake’s Deception wasn’t out of place because Marlowe perceived Nate to be a barrier to her goals. Here, though? No.
On the other hand, the blurb on the PlayStation video lets in the dread and hints at such a possibility;
Several years after his last adventure, retired fortune hunter, Nathan Drake, is forced back into the world of thieves. With the stakes much more personal, Drake embarks on a globe-trotting journey in pursuit of a historical conspiracy behind a fabled pirate treasure. His greatest adventure will test his physical limits, his resolve, and ultimately what he’s willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.
Because having to admit to yourself that your entire adult life had been knowingly based on a lie you created to plaster over the cracks of a broken childhood and *then* believing the person responsible for picking you up and holding you together has just been murdered in front of your eyes isn’t *remotely* personal, is it?
Anyway, Nate reaches for a gun, checks it, gets to his feet and manages to persuade a reluctant sounding Sully (who, by the way, implies he is still “in the game”). That Uncharted 4; A Thief’s End will be based around pirates was always pretty much a given and it is now confirmed. The image of a man being washed up, with a gun, is very evocative of this period of history. Is Nate shipwrecked, or has he been left behind? He’s been (sort of) shipwrecked (and plane wrecked and train wrecked) in previous titles, so perhaps this is different. It would be lovely mirror to the as yet unknown central historical figure (though my money is still on Henry Every). Pirates were seldom made to walk the plank – they were far more likely to be marooned and left with a single bullet. Think Captain Jack Sparrow but possibly with slightly less rum.
As Nate moves off into the jungle the camera pans around to show a field of gibbets with the decaying bones, presumably of pirates, still within. The camera comes to rest on one bearing the inscription;
For we receive the due reward of our deeds
The quote is from the Bible (Luke 23.41) and continues; “but this man has done nothing wrong”. Who is this man? And who wrote the inscription? And why omit the second half which apparently absolves the man of any wrongdoing?
Only time, of course, will tell, but there is food enough there for thought. While we don’t know a great deal more about the game (other than that Nate and Sully are in it) there is definitely movement in the right direction. And for that we are truly grateful.