Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End sees the return of Nathan Drake to the world of treasure hunting in an excellent action adventure spanning across the globe. As a new game in the series that was developed after The Last of Us, it takes a lot of design elements from The Last of Us and mixes it with the Uncharted formula to get a game which is greatly improved from its predecessors.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the final adventure of Nathan Drake and with “one last time”, the game takes player across a huge globetrotting adventure featuring gorgeous vistas and several semi-open setting allowing the players freedom of choice. This is a huge step up from the confined campaign of the old Uncharted trilogy which usually followed a set path. While A Thief’s End does have plenty of linear moments, they are usually mixed with sections that give the player breathing space to explore and interact the environments.
Gameplay wise, it is a huge upgrade over its predecessors and not only that, it is easily one of the best playing third person shooter that is currently available in the market. While the previous games in the series were known for their clunky controls for shooting and melee, Naughty Dog has greatly refined the look and feel of the combat which makes them much more immersive and less frustrating. The aiming feels more natural now and it is a huge upgrade over the aiming of Uncharted 3. The melee is completely dynamic and while it is only executed with a single button, players will often have to break their way through enemy’s counter and this requires pressing triangle. There is absolutely no button prompt here and players will have to figure it out themselves, which makes the experience much more immersive.
Naughty Dog has also added several new elements to the game which help with the exploration. The foremost among them is a new rope mechanism which players can utilize throughout the level to reach their objective. The rope mechanism is a fun distraction from the endless climbing that we have to do and it also helps the developers to add some new type of obstacles that previously weren’t possible in the series. Players can swing across chasms or use the rope to pull objects, in addition to using it as a getaway tool to reach a safe location when falling to their death. The rope works in many ways and it also highlights one key story sequence which was also seen at E3 2015. This segment had Nathan Drake being dragged behind the truck using his rope. It is still an impressive set piece despite already being spoiled and makes great use of the new rope mechanism.
Melee combat is also greatly improved with the full system being dynamic and involving the partners. Depending on the environment, Nathan Drake will execute a variety of movies e.g he will kick enemies down if they are standing near the edge or throw them up against a wall if near it. The addition of the partners makes it much more interesting. Enemies have the ability to counter your attacks or grab you from behind while another enemy then proceeds to beat the hell out of you. In such cases, a partner can come for help and free the player from the clutches of the enemy. Likewise, when a partner is captured, players can free him by attacking the enemy. There are also situations where our partner will capture an enemy and call the player to attack it as they hold him from behind. All of these situations result in a dynamic action that looks and feels smooth and also results in some extremely cool looking melee moves.
While Uncharted 4 has perfected its gameplay, the story unfortunately feels like a letdown compared to the complete package. Nate’s brother Sam often feels like an afterthought since there was no mention of him as a character in the old trilogy. Despite this completely new character, Naughty Dog has tried their best to introduce us to the brotherly relation of Nate and Sam by setting up some chapters as a flashback that feature their story. Needless to say, they have done a really good job with making Sam an actual interesting character and having the players care for him throughout the game. The whole first act sets up the story for the rest of the game in a neat way but it also slows down the pacing of the game. Those who will play the game will understand why Naughty Dog has called it their last Uncharted. The game indeed wraps up the franchise nicely while also giving nods to the earlier entries in the series.
Uncharted 4 features a variety of difficulty settings which are unlocked directly from the start. The game’s AI actually improves with each difficulty setting and becomes much more harder to take down. While the AI is decent on the moderate difficulty, it truly shines on the Crushing difficulty where it is much more aggressive. In term of unlocks, players will have access to a character model viewer, different rendering modes, weapons and perks like infinite ammo and no gravity. These can be unlocked through points that are acquired by collecting treasures or journal entries in the main game.
Multiplayer is also a key aspect of the game and despite a single player campaign full of gorgeous graphics and set pieces clocking in over at 14-16 hours, the developers have spent a lot of time and effort in improving the multiplayer as well. The multiplayer in Uncharted 4 has a variety of modes including Team Deathmatch, Plunder and Command in addition to a Ranked Team Deathmatch which will award the players ranks from Bronze to Diamond. Naughty Dog has also added a variety of trials with difficulty settings that will award the player with Uncharted points on completion, which in turn can be used to purchase the in-game DLC. If you don’t have the time to grind for points, you can also purchase the points from the PlayStation Store.
While it is currently lacking some features e.g co-op play, Naughty Dog has confirmed that these features will be added in a future update and co-op is currently promised for Winter 2017. In addition to the free multiplayer modes, there will be free maps available in the future, which will keep the multiplayer community united. The roadmap that Naughty Dog has revealed for the multiplayer shows a promising future for it.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the best entry in the series and the second best Naughty Dog game after The Last of Us. The game has a great pacing mixed with seamless gameplay and one of the most gorgeous looking graphics that we have seen in a console game so far. It is a fitting end to the adventures of Nathan Drake and friends.