Beating one of, if not, the best games from the previous crop of consoles is a tall order. The Last of Us meant so much to so many and is considered a game changer. With over 7 million sales on the PS4 and PS3 collectively, along with over 200 game of the year awards, it is easy to see the impact this game has had.
Narratively, Uncharted is a completely different ball game to the serious undertones and moral implications of The Last of Us. The first four Uncharted titles (Uncharted 1,2,3 & Golden Abyss) embraced its jovial nature and the result resonated with millions of fans. Nathan Drake became an alternative, and to some a replacement, to Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. However, since The Last of Us’ inception, many wondered if Naughty Dog could go back to an edgy, but light hearted action packed treasure hunter adventure.
And it turns out Naughty Dog can’t quite do that. With some big names leaving the Uncharted 4 project, most notably Amy Hennig, Naughty Dog have seen this as an opportunity to make some changes to the much loved franchise.
Personally, I have often found that whenever the next generation of consoles spring onto the scene, certain popular franchises can get left behind, never really returning to their former glory. Prince of Persia, Duke Nukem, Devil May Cry, Pro Evo, Hitman, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Rainbow Six Vegas and Tony Hawks, although not terrible, have received mixed criticism and rarely hold the same weight they once did. Tomb Raider was loved on the PS1 but its popularity waned during its years on the PS2. It wasn’t until the recent reboot that Tomb Raider began to become a gaming powerhouse once again.
The Last Of Us came at the end of the PS3’s lifecycle (ok, the console is still producing, but let’s face it, despite its support, both Microsoft and Sony are slowly moving forward with the Xbox One and PS4 respectively) but the transition to next gen was a welcomed and expected one. If The Last of Us had never been released on PS3 and only came out a few weeks ago, the audience probably would have been very accepting that this was a next gen title.
Naughty Dog and Sony do not want Uncharted to feel like a franchise struggling to find its place on the PS4.
With Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, who both previously worked on The Last of Us, taking the helm of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the series couldn’t be in better hands. Naughty Dog Co-president Christophe Balestra spoke openly to Official Playstation Magazine about the jump to PS4 and what that could mean to Uncharted 4.
After several years working on the same machine you kind of just run out [of steam] and you feel like you need something new just to be able to express yourself and push it to the next level.
So I think PS4 came at the right time for us – it’s definitely opening lots of doors to us that we didn’t have before.
Of course, technically the games we’re going to be making are going to look better, but it’s going to help the experience that we’re trying to deliver as well.
Everyone is extremely excited right now because we get to do all the new things we couldn’t do before.
We showed some of it at E3 just a couple months ago, and there will be more to come. It’s a good machine, and we’re extremely happy with it.”
We’re still learning how to get the best out of it. I mean, back on PS3, if you see the change between Uncharted 1 and 2, that was a pretty big gap! So it takes some time to really get familiar with the machine.”
The change in staff will also see a shift in tone, something that perhaps Uncharted will need if the game is to have anywhere near the impact that The Last of Us has had. Neil Druckmann spoke to MCV recently and explained that while Uncharted will remain fun to play and hold some of the original essence, that made the series critically acclaimed, Drake himself, along with the tone, will undergo the greatest transformation.
We’ve learned a lot about how we 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.
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.”
Tomb Raider was recently unveiled as a timed Xbox One exclusive and is expected to land during the holiday season of 2015. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is also expected sometime in 2015. Nathan Drake could, for the first time, go toe to toe with with Lara Croft.
Stay tuned with Twinstick Gaming for the latest on Uncharted 4.