The future of Uncharted is uncertain, but it will undoubtedly exclude Nathan Drake, or at most put him in a minor supporting role. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End was the legendary treasure hunter's final ride. The 2016 game was praised upon release, and rightfully so. However, some people felt it was an underwhelming finale, going so far to call it one of the weakest in the series.
Whether one thought it was a masterpiece or a dud, every opinion is valid as long as one can back it up with evidence. To bridge both sides, the following list will discuss five ways Uncharted 4 was the best game in the series, and five ways it failed to meet the series' high standard.
10 Best: Graphics
Each mainline Uncharted game was one of the best looking titles on the market in its respective time, and Uncharted 4 more than delivers in this respect. The environments and character models are unbelievably detailed.
Still, photos are gorgeous, but it takes on a whole new level of awe in motion. It also runs smoothly, which is more than a lot of visually impressive games can say. Graphics aren't everything, but they help immerse players into a story and make characters more believable.
9 Bad: Drawn Out Intro
This game takes a few cues from The Last of Us, one of them being extended gameplay sequences focusing on interaction and devoid of combat. The intro contains little adventure, with the action picking up more than an hour into the story.
It worked better in Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic opus because it was introducing all the characters and the world, but fans have been with Drake and his friends for three games by now (four, for those who played Golden Abyss). People are already well acquainted with the cast, and a good adventure finds a solid balance between action and character moments.
8 Best: Acting
The series has utilized performance capture since the beginning, but the technology only gets better as time goes on. While chock full of death-defying set pieces, Uncharted has always been about the characters and their developing relationships.
The performances in A Thief's End perfectly reflect the beloved ensemble's aging, difficulty adjusting to a new life, and conflict when Drake is dragged back into the dangerous lifestyle. Games aren't known for portraying convincing romances, but Uncharted 4 goes above and beyond by starring a married couple.
7 Bad: Missing Characters
There's not a dry personality among the cast and the exceptions usually end up biting the bullet. Because of how well written most of supporting characters are, the handful of them absent from Drake's final voyage really stings.
Charlie Cutter was a delight in Uncharted 3, but he barely gets a mention in the PS4 title. The most notable blank spot is Chloe Frazer. She is especially close to Drake, so it was weird when all she did was write him a note. Thankfully, Naughty Dog rectified this by having her star in her own expansion, The Lost Legacy.
6 Best: Multiplayer
Multiplayer has always been an intriguing concept for the series, but its execution consistently felt like an afterthought. With Drake's last ride, the team finally made it something special. The level design takes advantage of the series' trademark movement, and the grappling hook further heightens this feature.
The charged-up melee combat adds a unique dimension to the close quarters encounters as well. As an added cherry on top, the multiplayer component runs at sixty frames per second.
5 Bad: Multiple Choice Parts Are Meaningless
A select few cutscenes give players the choice to guide the conversation. It makes one think these are key moments affecting later events, but they are ultimately meaningless. The dialog in the scene slightly changes, but it has no bearing on anything else in the story.
Perhaps the feature was meant to be more involved before being toned down. It doesn't hurt the game, it just comes off as a little odd. Not that Uncharted should ever be a choose your own adventure book, but why give choices like this if they have no consequences?
4 Best: Crash Bandicoot
Naughty Dog including their first big hit in the game is more than just a cute Easter egg. The game is all about the difficulties in letting go of one's past, and how denying it can be unhealthy. Naughty Dog has cut successful franchises loose before, like Crash and Jak & Daxter, but their next new IP always becomes more successful.
The bandicoot's inclusion in Uncharted 4 is the studio's way of saying it hasn't forgotten where they came from. Denying Crash makes them like the bored, unsatisfied Drake at the beginning of the game. They are more akin to the character at the end of the game, who found a healthy balance between family and adventure, albeit tamer ones.
3 Bad: Fewer Set Pieces
The PS3 trilogy always tried to one-up itself in terms of the grandiose set pieces. The first game was an exciting thrill ride, the second game featured a legendary train level and an impressive sequence of Drake tumbling around a collapsing building, and the third game sees the character survive a plane crash, a boat sinking, and a fun sequence on horseback.
Uncharted 4 tones these down significantly and spreads them further apart. Perhaps they didn't want the set pieces getting in the way of characters and the narrative, but fans look forward to these moments. The game still has some great action sequences, but they don't live up to its predecessors.
2 Best: Wrapping Up Drake's Story
Few characters in gaming get a true ending. In one way or another, they are brought back, whether it be a reboot or a sequel. While either of these is possible, Uncharted 4 finishes the sentence with a period, and not a question mark, comma, or semicolon.
Naughty Dog has never rebooted a series before, and it doesn't look like they'll start anytime soon. If Drake never shows up in anything again, the last scene of the game will have been a perfect conclusion for the adventurer.
1 Bad: Pacing
This goes hand in hand with the drawn-out intro, but the problem doesn't end there. Each act takes a long time to get going, and the lull between action sequences goes on for a while. Much of the action and classic Uncharted gameplay is reserved for the last act, but it may cause a player to get bored with the environments.
Had they spread the traditional gameplay throughout the campaign, the story would flow better. The game switches back and forth between extended combat sections and long-winded exploration, instead of evenly interspersing them.