Preview

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Five Things That Surprised Me
by Kyle Hilliard on Apr 04, 2016 at 11:21 AM
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4

I recently got to spend an extended period of time with Uncharted 4. You can see my playthrough here, but there were a handful of things I felt were worth calling out separately. My time featured a number of surprising moments and mechanics, but it still felt like an Uncharted experience.

The Jeep
Nathan Drake is no stranger to riding in vehicles, or jumping off of them as they explode, but it’s rare that he and the player are behind the wheel. Nathan spent some time on a wave runner in the original Uncharted, but this is a much different experience.

In the level I played, which was at about the halfway point in the game, the Jeep isn’t so much about covering lots of ground quickly as it is about serving as an extension of Nathan’s ability to navigate the environment. In this way, it felt a bit like the Batmobile from Batman: Arkham Knight. It doesn’t seem that the Jeep will be as instrumental to Nathan’s adventure as the Batmobile was to Batman’s, but the two share some commonalities. I used the Jeep to navigate steep inclines and took advantage of its winch to drive up slippery, muddy paths. I also used it in combat to run over two enemies, but was quickly taken out by sniper fire, as the jeep has no cover.

When I first jumped in, I thought I would take the Jeep to my destination and simply get out, but thankfully it seems to have more utility than that.

The Stealth
Uncharted has always had stealth sequences, but they rarely, if ever, did anything to stand out from the larger Uncharted experience. In A Thief’s End, stealth is fun and much easier to manage. It is aided tremendously by a Far Cry-like meter that lets the player know when enemies can see, or are starting to see you. It makes staying out of trouble when you don’t want it much easier. Over the course of my few playthroughs of the shootout sequence, I found my stealth run to be the most interesting and enjoyable.

The Enemy Marking
Before the gunfight sequence I played, there was ample opportunity to look at the battlefield before engaging and marking enemies. It reminded me of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, as both games are third-person shooters, and both have areas in Africa that are visually similar. An added bonus for marking enemies is if you die, all your marked enemies remain marked.

The Conversation
Uncharted is known for its banter and excellent performances, and the sequence I played in Uncharted 4 did not disappoint. Sully, Sam, and Drake all have funny lines and natural chemistry, but the thing that surprised me is how fluid the conversation is when I walked away. During a conversation between Sully and Sam about how buying and selling artifacts had changed thanks to the advent of the Internet, I got out of the Jeep and explored, and they naturally paused. When I got back to the car, they said something along the lines of, ”Where were we?” and picked right back up. The pause felt correct, and it did not sound as though the audio clip had been artificially clipped. They stopped talking, then started back up when I returned.

The Visuals
This is probably something that should not have surprised me, but the game looks fantastic. It’s the little things that impressed me. The characters movement and faces look great, but when the camera zoomed in on the Jeep’s dashboard, I was amazed how clear and detailed it was. I have grown accustomed to the generic flat dashboard texture in video game cars, and was surprised to see so much depth in such a small aspect of the game. It may be odd to highlight a car dashboard when it comes to talking about Uncharted 4’s impressive visuals, but it just goes to show how much detail Naughty Dog puts in everything.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End releases May 10 on PlayStation 4. For more on the game, head here to see our Test Chamber.