Unless you have been living under a boulder, or perhaps lost in a Madagascan jungle this week you will be fully aware that at the PlayStation Experience which took place over last weekend we were treated to some 15 minutes of Uncharted 4 gameplay, by way of Bruce Straley, who managed to keep Nathan Drake alive for at least the majority of the show.
There have been approximately 8 million ‘in depth analyses’ of the demo, of which this is not one, and I won’t be linking to them all. They are simply too many and I think too much digging kills the moment. Some amount of trying to figure things out is fun, too much is… too much. Anyway, this post is meant to be everything you may want to know.
Here is the demo…
The setting looks to be the same place as the E3 Demo, but before Nate took a smack to the head, or a long time after it healed. Bruce takes Nate on a trip through some wet caves, which shows off the way in which the water affects Nate’s clothes. Although this has always been a feature of Uncharted, the mechanics have obviously been updated, and according to the ‘Modelling Nathan Drake Panel’ work in a more subtle way, rather than simply darkening his clothes. While climbing out of the cave area we are treated to the knowledge that Nate’s sense of humour is mercifully in tact as he criticises the footwear choice of an explorer who came before him, and apparently wasn’t as successful in not dying. There is another telling snippet of a hint as Nate asks one of the other skeletons whether he has seen a tall lanky guy with ideas of pirate treasure pass through. So Nate is looking for someone.
The scenery in this section looks like a painting to me. While it doesn’t look quite like a movie, it certainly doesn’t look like it came from a computer. I know – I am a dinosaur.
It isn’t long before the baddies come. Nate is as popular as ever, it seems. There’s shooting, theres punching, and oh my goodness me, there is swinging on a rope and punching someone in the face all in one swift move. Yes, Nate has a grappling hook. He also has a sort of a pick to help him climb, in a similar manner to Lara Croft’s pick in the ‘rebooted’ Tomb Raider. While violence isn’t something I would advocate for, Nate really does shine when he is under pressure in those situations. His quick wit and quick trigger finger make for a fun thing to watch, and I would guess it will be a fun thing to play as well. The manner in which Bruce approached this section of gameplay is somewhat more stealthy than sections of previous Uncharted games really allowed you to be. On the one hand this is a good thing, because the implication that Uncharted 4 is being designed with an emphasis on stealth in mind suggests a variety of play styles will be needed or at least catered for. On the other hand, at one point I wondered why Nate wasn’t using the gun in his hand. There was clearly enough ammo, and it felt a little un-Nate-like to be cautious. It was clear that Bruce was trying to show off as many game mechanics as possible, but I hope that there will be sections of the game that force Nate into stealth rather than suggest to him that he could be stealthy if he wanted to. Because I don’t think he would want to. Gameplay mechanics employed need to gel with the established characters as much as their clothes do. One final point about stealth is that a couple of times enemies were highlighted in the same manner as ‘Listen Mode’ in The Last of Us. This is something I assume, and hope, can be switched off because it doesn’t fit in this game, and I don’t think it fitted in The Last of Us, either. Nathan can’t ‘see’ people through cover, so why should we?
It should also be mentioned here that this demo introduced a new character. And not any old new character, but one who calls Nate ‘little brother’. There are a few reasons why someone might call someone else ‘little brother’ but the most obvious is that he is his little brother. This is obviously something of a revelation – until now, other than Sully, and Elena, we have not met another of Nathan’s family. It is hard to tell, but it looks like this guy is at least a few years older than Nate, which could have made him a teenager when their parents (assuming they are full brothers) relinquished their rights. Again – there are thousands of possibilities, and with very little to go on, any of them could be true. There is debate about his name; I believe, when he greeted Nate he said “I nearly shot you, little brother”, Nate responds with a sighed ‘”Sam…” although other people think Nate actually says “same”. For now though, I will call him Sam. Nathan and Samuel would make excellent names for two brothers; Samuel is a Hebrew name meaning “God has listened”, while Nathan is a Hebrew name meaning “God has given”. Fitting, eh?
This is Sam. He appears to have a tattoo on his neck of crossed swords.
For me, the standout features of the demo are the upgraded animations, particularly climbing and jumping; the level design, which seems to be quite a lot more open than previous games; the voice acting – Nolan North is fantastic, as ever; and the fact that Nathan feels like an old friend that I have missed. My only real ‘meh’ moment was the enemies being highlighted. I really didn’t like that.
The other big thing that happened at the PlaysStation Experience was a panel given by members of the Naughty Dog character design team, who spent an hour telling us how they have bought Nathan Drake to the PS4. I can not stress how interesting the entire panel is, and I strongly recommend you watch it all if you are in the slightest bit interested in character design. Here it is.
This is the final Nathan, taken from the video above. A lot of people have said that he doesn’t look like the Nathan they know, and while there are several differences, when I look at him, personally I do see the Nathan Drake I know and love. Here is a side by side comparison with Uncharted 3’s Nathan.
We will, as ever, be following the news, and letting you all know about things as they happen. The quickest way to keep up with us is via Twitter, we are at @allUNCHARTED. If you find anything interesting that we may have missed, please send it our way. Thanks!
Oh, and the chest hair! The CHEST HAIR! The in-game wind will affect Nathan’s CHEST HAIR. Don’t worry, I have spent a while staring at animations, and can confirm this is true. The sacrifices I make…