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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the latest upcoming title to be released by developers, Naughty Dog. Information on this highly anticipated title has been rather scarce. But just like a certain amount of crack-cocaine can send you into a downward-spiraling abyss of addiction, so the snippets of information that has been released in tactically perfect portions has got us undoubtedly hooked, and foaming at the mouth.
In the likeness of Nathan Drake, the Uncharted hero, we here at Gearburn have sifted through the various hints and clues to unravel the new titles mysteries.
This is what our great expedition has uncovered so far…
Nathan Drake, the man
It is several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Since then Nathan Drake has been “out of the game”, time making him old and rusty.
But then the promise of hidden treasure, and the persuasion of his older brother (voiced by the one and only, Troy Baker — of The Last of Us and BioShock fame), draws him back into the shady world of fortune hunting.
The game’s co-director, Neil Druckmann, says that Uncharted 4 will be “more personal” than its predecessors and will focus more on Nathan Drake as a personable kickass.
In an interview with MCV UK, Druckmann spoke quite a bit about this.
We’ve learned a lot about how to tell stories through interactivity with The Last of Us and there are lessons that we’re applying to Uncharted 4. It’s about finding that right balance for Uncharted – it’s definitely not going to be The Last of Us. But we are trying to make it more personal this time and see how much we can delve into who Nathan Drake really is, and what kind of effect this journey has on him and the people around him.
This is an extremely exciting aspect but I think only Uncharted veterans will feel the full effects of this decision. If it will result in a better game overall, remains to be seen. But Druckmann carries on:
At the same time, we know Uncharted is about fun, charming characters and set pieces, and you’re going to see that, too. You’ll see an evolution of that and how we mirror those set pieces to the narrative. That’s our challenge.
So this will be quite an innovative, and somewhat risky, step in terms of the Uncharted franchise, but seeing what Druckmann did with Last of Us does instill me with an generous amount of confidence and excitement.
To the South of Africa
According to the few trailers we’ve seen in the past year, it is safe to say that Uncharted 4 has a very strong Southern Africa influence.
In the first initial teaser trailer we are shown a speculatively 16th century map. The clip follows a route all along the South African coast, from the Cape of Good Hope to Natal (eastern South Africa), finally settling on the eastern coast of Madagascar, and specifically placing emphasis on the small island of Ile Sainte-Marie a.k.a. St Mary’s Island.
In the latest game play trailer we are introduced to an environment that looks much like that of wild Madagascar and we see Nathan hiding from a group of mercenaries that have very strong South African accents. This only further strengthens the aforementioned location being the setting of the new title.
This will make a brilliantly adventurous setting. Breathtaking scenery is to be expected., but so is imminent danger.
Most of Madagascar is virtually untouched by the influence of humankind, making me think that a generous amount of predators will be roaming around (we’re talking Far Cry 4 levels here). And the humans who do populate this wild landscape will almost certainly be a lawless few.
PS4 Exclusive – 1080p at 60 fps and 30hz
This is probably the fact that most people are excited about, especially after Naughty Dog released a 15 minute game play trailer showcasing absolutely stunning graphics combined with seriously impressive game mechanics, a true show horse for the next-gen PS4.
Oh, and I should probably mention that what we saw was pre-alpha game play, meaning things will only get better towards release.
The trailer showed a beaten up Nathan Drake, armed with his usual humorous monologue, running through a massive and gorgeous natural landscape while jumping over massive gaps and scaling up tremendous cliffs. Many small elements, such as birds flying in the distance and the sea foaming as it hits the face of the cliffs, come together to create a world that feels truly alive.
Nathan Drake also gets a next-gen makeover and is looking more refined than ever. If you look at the comparison between Uncharted 3 and Uncharted 4 it’s hard not to get a virtual hard-on.
During Sony’s recent PlayStation Experience event, a group of Uncharted 4 artists confidently said that any and all detail seen in the game’s cut scenes will carry straight over to the game play, with no loss of quality whatsoever. They said they achieved this by using shaders rather than 3D-sculpting.
A lot of that stuff we were definitely able to handle in shader as opposed to sculpting it into high res. And that helped a lot to maintain, from as he goes in-game to cinematic, the same level of detail. So, nothing drops in terms of detail level once he gets into the game.
Pirates and hidden treasure!
Probably the most prominent theme to be consistently found throughout the bare library of Uncharted 4 clues is that of Pirates. The era, which is indicated by the map’s place-names and insignias that are characteristic of the 16-17th century, is a time that was known as “The Golden Age of Piracy”.
We know that Nathan is out to find a hidden treasure.
History tells us that the specific location of Madagascar used to be an epicenter of pirate activity. It is also where Libertatia, the fabled pirate colony, is rumored to have once existed. Just next to the Island of Ile Sainte-Marie we see the words “For God and Liberty”. This just happens to be the motto of Libertatia.
It is not hard to imagine that this treasure could be of the pirate variety.
A healthy dose of history
The sea route that the teaser trailer follows, runs parallel to part of a circumnavigational journey that was undertaken by Sir Francis Drake, the widely-believed direct descendant of Nathan Drake. In reality Sir Francis was an English Sea Captian, explorer, slaver and (of course) a pirate. In the previous Uncharted titles his already intriguing reputation was built upon even more by casting him off as a member of various Elizabethan secret societies.
There have been wide spread rumors that Uncharted 4 will briefly put you in the mysteriously big shoes of Sir Francis Drake, something many have certainly craved for. But at this point it is only inspired by a combination of loose facts and hope.
In the teaser trailer, there appears a strange inscription that reads “Every has betrayed us all”. “Every” possibly refers to Henry Every, one of the most notorious pirates of historic times. His great deeds of piracy earned him titles such as the “the King of Pirates” and “The Arch Pirate”. But beyond his infamous reputation, the most interesting facts about his life is that he is one of very few pirates who retired with all his loot without being captured or killed.
Now suppose Libertatia did exist, it would not be a too far-fetched to think that Every, as “the King of Pirates”, would retire with his wealth in Pirate Utopia, which is also coincidentally where Nathan Drake finds himself.
I’m sure you can see what I am hinting at.
Whatever the real story is, all the clues lead to the land of Pirates and a shitload of treasure. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pirates or treasure. If they don’t, I don’t think I would like them anyway.