Uncharted 4 A Theif's End
This game was reviewed on Playstation 4.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is the 4th main installment in the Uncharted franchise and was the first to be released for the PS4. Expectations were very high for this game especially since, aside from remasters, this was Naughty Dogs' first game for this generation, and boy did they deliver.
Uncharted 4 takes place a few years after the events of the third game (with a couple of flashbacks) Nate has now settled down into a normal life with Elena until his long lost brother turns up needing his help. This game does not follow the exact same formula as the last three main installments. The villains aren't actually portrayed as evil titans like in the previous titles and the treasure this time around is just a treasure. The story is less focused on 'the end of the world' and more on the theme of family. The story is still epic and has a lot of grandeur but manages to keep its core themes very grounded and at the forefront at all times whether it's in cut scenes or just as the characters speak to each other while in-game. The story is genuinely amazing with betrayals, unexpected plot twists, and some really high but personnel stakes. The core three characters (Nate, Elena, and Sully) return to take center stage alongside Nates brother Sam, unfortunately, both Chloe and Charlie from the previous two titles aren't present here but do get a few mentions. It's disappointing not to see these characters but it's understandable considering the grounded nature of the story and adding in these characters probably would have felt a little forced. The main villain this time around comes in the form of Rafe Adler and he really fits well into this game's narrative as he isn't anything more than another treasure hunter who wants to prove himself over the great Nathan Drake, even giving Nate the chance to walk away from half way through the game, he isn't my favourite villain of the franchise but honestly, I do really like him and feel like he was written really well.
The gameplay of Uncharted 4, whilst feeling a lot better being on new hardware, is surprisingly similar to older games with a few new mechanics to play around with. In this game you can now mark enemies to keep track of them, hide in long grass/bushes whilst playing stealthily, swing across gaps using a grappling hook, slide down gravel/mudslides and use a rock climbing pick to get to locations you otherwise wouldn't have been able to get to, all of these are welcome changes and only enhance both combat and exploration. Shooting is slightly more skill-based in this game with recoil patterns being a lot more trackable thanks to the new aiming reticule meaning if you are good enough to follow it, hitting targets shouldn't be a problem. Exploration is also expanded on in this game with a couple of 'open-world' areas to explore where you can find treasures or other collectibles relating to the story of Henry Avery (the pirate whose treasure you search for throughout the game). The action set pieces of course make a return with the convoy chase in this game arguably being the best in the series but you also have a boat chase, prison break, and exploding mummy sequence. The final boss fight against Rafe is also particularly fun and fitting to the games pirate theme.
This game also boasts a fun arcade-like multiplayer with a few different basic modes. The multiplayer isn't ground-breaking by any means but boasts a lot of unlockable cosmetic items and is really fun to play with friends. You also have a co-op mode which throws wave after wave of enemies at you and your teammates, this mode can be particularly challenging on the hardest difficulty as it's always forcing you to stay on the move whilst attempting to dodge enemy fire. The multiplayer isn't special and clearly was an afterthought however it's a little extra for your money and can be hours' worth of fun with the right people.
Overall Uncharted 4 does everything right and unless I go into the real nit-picky details it really doesn't have many faults. Returning characters continue to grow and new characters like Sam and Rafe are really complex. The overarching story is great as well as seeing the relationships between all the characters grow in many different ways. The epilogue is also great seeing Nates' daughter and the potential for the series to go in a direction where she could become the main character is really interesting. The gameplay also works really well and finally combat doesn't just feel like a basic third-person shooter anymore as this game gives you many more options compared to previous titles and puzzles also no longer completely hold your hand so they actually have much more purpose now, both of these things further solidify the Uncharted identity. I feel that Uncharted 3 was a great ending to that original trilogy of games but Uncharted 4 finishes 'the Nathan Drake saga'. I feel like his story has been perfectly told and no more is needed. The franchise could still split off in many different directions however, for now, the curtains have closed.
This game truly achieved greatness from the franchises' small beginnings.