With great success comes great pressure. Like any critically acclaimed series of games, Uncharted 4 bears the weight of its predecessors. One thing is all but certain – the game will be good. But will it be great? Will it push the medium forward like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, or will it simply hold serve as a great, but ultimately uninspired game like Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception? Here are 4 ways I believe Uncharted 4 can be the game we all hope it to be.
4. Combat Mechanics
Uncharted’s combat mechanics need to be improved. Rocksteady, the creators of the critically acclaimed Arkham series, took combat mechanics to another level in 2009 with their first game, Arkham Asylum, and frankly, no one has been able to match them since. While Naughty Dog can’t rightly steal the combat mechanics from Rocksteady, they can emulate them to a degree.
Nathan Drake is already making Alex Honnold look like an amateur climber; a more deadly arsenal of offensive and defensive maneuvers would hardly foster any increased sense of absurdity.
Button mashing is not okay anymore for Uncharted; it’s too good for that. Naughty Dog doesn’t need to implement a system that rewards lengthy combo streaks like Arkham, but a more fluid and seamless system of attack and defense transitions would be a welcome improvement.
3. Cool it on the Holy Sh*t Moments
Michael Bay would be proud of Uncharted 3; a game that was far too Hollywood. The problem: the video game market is not like Hollywood; you don’t need to smother your game in explosive hyperbole to meet sales goals. Create a game with an engrossing story, likable characters and sound controls, and 9 times out of 10 you’re going to meet or exceed your sales expectations.
Uncharted 3 tried too hard to “one up” Uncharted 2 with completely unbelievable sequences and too many quick time events. How many times can Drake fall frightfully close to his doom only to cling narrowly on with his fingertips? How many times will Drakes foot get stuck in a board while running away from foes? And the cargo plane sequence…don’t even get me started. Naughty Dog needs to find its misplaced middle ground.
2. Keep Drake as the Main Character
For the love of all things holy, do NOT remove Drake as the main protagonist. It’s extremely difficult to contrive a character that perfectly blends a curt nature with boyish charm.
People have been calling for the “retiring” of Drake so that a new, likely younger, hero can be introduced. I think this would be a horrendous idea. Nathan Drake is one of the more universally loved characters of modern day video games. He is smug, consistently unabashed and a womanizer. People want a hero with flaws and Naughty Dog really nailed it with Drake; design, voice and personality all blended together seamlessly. Introduce supporting cast members until your hearts content. Just make sure you keep Drake right where he’s at—front and center on our tv screens.
1. Don’t be Afraid to Emulate Tomb Raider
The new Tomb Raider was a fantastic game. It blended the best parts of what makes Uncharted great—story driven linearity—with a sense of explorative freedom (something Uncharted has yet to do). While Tomb Raider was not an “open world” game by definition, it did give the player a false sense of just that with map locations like Shipwreck Beach and Shantytown. These locations were large and multilayered so you could attack them at your leisure, spending considerable time exploring to find treasures and crate barrels.
A stark contrast, Uncharted has remained so tightly scripted that it feels like a Hollywood Blockbuster. Is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily. The games are all phenomenal. So why change a winning formula? Technology. As technology improves, developers have more raw power at their fingertips, and can therefore create new experiences that weren’t possible before.
Crafting a Hollywood-esque game without a pre-determined path is difficult and ultimately constrained by technology. James Cameron has spoken to this point many times in regards to movies. He’s a proponent of using technology to maximize your experience in the theatre; 3D and VR in particular. The goal is to make people feel more connected to what’s on screen, rather than just a passive participant. Even with all of Uncharted’s accomplishments, it still feels like your hand is being held.
Take advantage of this new hardware and further blur the line between a sandbox and linear experience.
Feel free to comment below and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!