You will probably know by now that Uncharted 4 has been delayed until Spring 2016, and if you didn’t; Uncharted 4 has been delayed until Spring 2016. The news was announced by way of a blog post by Neil Druckmann, the Creative Director. The post also mentioned that until then, Naughty Dog would be “heads down working to bring the closure to Nathan’s story that he deserves”. This is far more significant than the fact that it’s taking them a few months longer to make the game as full of awesome as they possibly can, because let’s face it; we can cope with the wait for the right reasons.
While I joke that I am in denial about the end of Uncharted, I do recognise that realistically, it will happen. However, I do not believe that this is it. I can’t claim credit for this following expression, but Sony will ‘ride that cash cow all the way to the butchers’. Naughty Dog may be done with Uncharted, but I don’t think Sony are. This is not what bothers me. What does bother me is the implication that a) Nathan Drake’s story has an ‘end’ and b) that Uncharted 3 was not it. Some people had problems with Uncharted 3, but I did not. Its tale of abandonment, deception and identity was fitting, and we learned a lot about why Nathan is the way he is. I talked about this extensively in an article shortly after its release, and I stand by everything I said there.
Why then, do Naughty Dog feel the need to ‘conclude’ his story again? What do they think his ‘story’ is? Uncharteds 1-3 were not a trilogy in the true sense; they are all standalone stories that you could experience out of order (although I wouldn’t recommend it if you can avoid it), but the revelations that came in the middle of Drake’s Deception put a nice cap on the uncertainty surrounding Nathan’s early life, and his identity issues. The eventual loss of Sir Francis Drake’s ring followed by the replacement of his wedding ring neatly symbolised his moving on from one life to another.
And then along came the big Uncharted 4 reveal. We rejoiced. Nathan, now largely unburdened by the gigantic lie that he had told himself and the world, was free to move on, and live the life of a normal person. This is where things start to jar, for me, because all that considered, Nathan is not a ‘normal person’. No self-respecting heritage establishment will take him on, even with the skills and knowledge he has. We know he has bar experience, but do you see him doing that until he retires? I jest, but where are his transferable skills? The point is, he never led a normal life, and he never will. There will always be interesting things to say about Nathan; there will always be stories to tell. Whether or not Naughty Dog (or any other studio) wants to tell them, is another matter.
The introduction of Nathan’s brother, Sam, is brilliant, because it breathes mystery back into Nathan’s story, and also his past. Sam has previously never been mentioned, so there is a wealth to explore there. But why introduce a previously unknown point of interest, merely to shut the whole thing down? If Naughty Dog are using Sam as a way of explaining Nathan’s raison d’etre, perhaps they forgot that they already did that in Uncharted 3? Sam is another branch of Nathan’s story, and therefore I struggle to believe that he is the final piece in the jigsaw. It feels as though Sam was meant to be the start of a new chapter of Uncharted, but following Amy Hennig’s rather abrupt departure, finishing A Thief’s End was an easier course of action than calling time on it althogether.