Uncharted 4 trailer analysis: Hints at improvements over Uncharted 3


Less wave-based shooting galleries, more organic encounters?

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa" - Nathan Drake. 

As Chris mentioned when the trailer debuted at PlayStation Experience, Uncharted 4 looks, "very Uncharted." There are Nolan North quips at everything you see. The dark and dingy cave gives way to a sun-washed, cinematic vista as three birds fly by right as your eyes adjust to the sun.

The climbing, too, looks same as it ever was, save for the addition of a centuries-old, apparently indestructible soft-rock-climbing dagger. And a grappling hook, which was at least used once. 

But while the base mechanics are familiar, the layout, at least as it appears in this trailer, is different, and that's why I'm a bit more excited for A Thief's End after being less impressed with Uncharted 3

Skip to about seven minutes into the above trailer to get past all the Uncharted set dressing. 

Uncharted 3's biggest fault is that you can see its seams. You can tell that you're engaged in wave-based gunplay segments, or that you're in a stealth segment. The former took over too much of the game, turning it into a cover-based shooting gallery that doesn't encourage any of the movement and locomotion it obviously reserved for delineated platforming segments.

Mowing down a lot of folks from up on high behind a wall is a lot less fun that running at them, hip firing, and finishing them off with a punch in the face.

So the seven-minute mark here puts us in an "enemy" segment compared to the previous feeling of safety, but without immediately starting combat, and without sacrificing movement. Drake's still sneaking around, enemies abound. And getting a gun at eight minutes doesn't mean "hell fire time" until you're spotted. Then there's familiar gunplay, Naughty Dog showing off its Wet Drake water physics, and all that. 

Hop to 10:30. Organic stealth. No cover, or UI element explaining. The enemy just doesn't see you in the brush. The same happens after the mud bath at 11:40. There is enough openness for you to naturally disappear as you watch enemies flit about in search of you.

And then? 13:30? You can just leave without killing everyone. It's a far cry from the meat grinder that was Uncharted 3. It's open, with enemies all around so that you're always at risk (of being spotted while unnoticed, of being under fire while engaged), but they don't file in in waves by the dozen while you wait to clear them out. Advancing feels more like the goal than killing does, even if there is plenty of killing. 

This is a manicured, directed piece of gameplay, but it's not heavily cut or edited and does imply that this style if play will be possible. It feels more natural than Uncharted 3, which was very obviously built around stitched together set pieces. This one could still be, too, of course. Still, if you dig Drake's handsome quipping and the pulp fiction adventuring, which I mostly do, this trailer hints at a much better time than I had with Uncharted 3.

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Steven Hansen
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Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more + disclosures



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