Naughty Dog delivers another masterpiece and, most importantly, the greatest adventure yet.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
A bit of context
Naughty Dog has a really impressive pedigree by now. With best sellers like The Last of Us in 2013 and the previous Uncharted titles, they have setup a really high quality bar for themselves and the industry. This is, unfortunately, a double edged sword: It is easier to let down your fans when you can’t improve what you have done in the past and try to keep milking a franchise. We have seen this multiple times with pretty much every developer. But not Naughty Dog. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a masterpiece with an impressive plot, graphics, voice acting, and unparalleled action. It shares plenty of elements with the entries that came before it. It is pretty much the formula, to be honest. And that is why it is so good.
Since Uncharted 3, Nate has been living a more relaxed life with Elena. He has a full time job recovering lost cargo, and he doesn’t do any gig without a permit. He struggles with it, his current life doesn’t make him happy. He is happy with Elena, but he misses the adventures and treasure hunting. This is shown right in the first few chapters, where we get to interact with all his souvenirs from previous adventures.
As it turns out, Nate has a brother. The main focus in Uncharted 4 is Sam Drake, never been mentioned before in the series. Sam has been presumed dead for many years, but he suddenly reappears and complicates the more relaxed, legal and boring life that Nate has been struggling to keep. Without spoiling anything, it is fair to mention that this time around you not only look for a hidden treasure. The stakes are higher, and I believe it is one of the strongest plots in the series. Sam is responsible for more memorable moments than any other Uncharted character outside of Nathan or Sully. And it is him who teaches Nate how to use the grappling hook.
The new grappling hook gets plenty of time to shine, and it is my favorite addition. It isn’t just a simple tool used to jump from platform to platform. While you have predetermined grapple points, it has many uses: you can tackle enemies from above with it, knocking them down and snatching their weapons out of mid-air. You can also shoot while swinging from the hook, which is smartly used in several action and chasing moments. You can also attach it to your vehicles for when you can traverse specific areas, and on the same note, use it to destroy specific structures. I’m really trying really hard to not spoil anything, ruining several “WOW” moments that as in any linear and single player campaign, won’t last forever.
The AI seems to have been improved. No matter who accompanies you during in any chapter, it will prove to be useful while also featuring smart and natural dialogues. During stealth sequences, you won’t get screwed by them, although I noticed Naughty decided to do it cheaply: your partners won’t get noticed during stealth sequences, even if they are facing the enemy right in from of them. Just like Ellie in The Last of Us, your partner navigates these stealth sequences without any possibility of his presence alerting enemies to your position. And most importantly: they help. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been saved by a graceful punch when I was about to lose.
Everything else is part of the proven Uncharted formula. Many climbing areas are smart and a large number of platforms will crumble or break as soon as you touch them. Never a chapter feels like it drags on for too long, alternating everyday dialogues with bombs and shooting. Unfortunately, many puzzles are boring, and they pretty much boil down to push this and climb that.
Uncharted 4 is one of the best-looking games. Seriously. The campaign will take you to a wide variety of stunning environments with gorgeous views, and you will be reminded by Sam or whoever is at your side to take a break and appreciate what Naughty Dog has accomplished. It is seriously the best looking game I have ever seen in any console, nothing on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One comes anywhere close to Uncharted 4’s visuals. Cinematics are as realistic as they can get, and you will never break immersion thanks to the high quality faces with really detailed expressions and top notch animations. Interiors also feature a crazy amount of details: you will often find yourself just standing in place and rotating the camera around, playing with the photo mode.
The multiplayer component is included once again. It is solid, it is fun, and it includes all the characters from the past and we love as unlockable in multiplayer. It features a few modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Capture the Flag, and the gameplay is as good as the campaign, but let’s be honest. The heartfelt moments in Uncharted play a huge role in the final experience, and all that is lost while owning enemies in a never ending battle field online. You can get one-hit melee kills with a charged grappling hook, which is fun. You can also customize your characters with funny dances and several other shenanigans by playing or by taking a shortcut with real money. Upcoming maps and co-op DLC packs will be available for free.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will take you on a journey where the Drake brothers and his friends will face death-defying moments, just like in previous titles. But as before, everything is done flawlessly. A high quality plot, impressive graphics, fun gameplay, and cool additions like the grappling hook are just a few things of everything you can expect in the 12+ hours campaign, and then there is the multiplayer. A Thief’s End is the best entry in the Uncharted franchise.