In just under a week Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been met with an unparalleled reception from the gaming community. The final chapter of Nathan Drake’s adventure has been praised for its fantastic writing, beautiful visuals, overhauled combat mechanics and more importantly: the overwhelming moments all of these elements combine to make.
For the developer Naughty Dog it appears that the devil is in the details, which is something they’ve definitely taken to the next level within Uncharted 4. Throughout my time with Drake’s last journey I found myself consistently praising the attention they gave to the little things within the game. While these little things may not be the most memorable part of the final chapter, they do add a level of detail rivaled by few other titles in the gaming industry today.
That being said, here’s some of the stupidly impressive details we couldn’t stop gawking at while playing through Uncharted 4 — mild spoilers ahead.
Gun Slings Actually Work
After playing through Uncharted 4’s opening few chapters, I found myself sitting in the Panamanian jail as Nathan’s brother Samuel Drake escaping with a drug lord. Throughout this entire experience I was enduring dangerous shootouts with the guards while watching Hector Alcazar’s goons blown through the prison with C4 explosives but despite everything going on around me I couldn’t stop putting my rifle on my back before taking it off again. The reason? The gun sling was actually animated and functional. Naughty Dog took the time to animate each playable character so that when they remove or place a weapon on their back, their head dips, followed by them sliding out of the sling. I sat for a good few minutes swapping weapons in that prison, just blown away by the fact that Naughty Dog took the time to make something like this happen.
Friendly Characters Respond to Your Presence
While I was aimlessly looking at my weapons sling in the prison chapter, I also came to appreciate another element when I attempted to take cover next to some friendly characters within the game. Per usual, Uncharted 4 features many who will join you on your journey — whether they be important to the plot or just a few expendable troops to add to the intensity of a firefight. In most video games these allies will just step out of the way or let you clip through them when you invade their personal space, but Uncharted 4 is a little different. While taking cover with friendly characters in the way I noticed that they would stop firing and press themselves further against the wall so that I could engage the enemies instead. Throughout my entire play-through I kept testing every friendly character I came across, whom all responded by letting me take the reins. Sometimes they’ll step out and fire back with you too.
Conversations Pick Back Up
One key element to the Uncharted franchise has always been the conversations that take place throughout various sections in the game. While they aren’t as focused or detailed as those you might find in the cinematics, they serve the important function of furthering every character in the franchise. Previously these conversations would get overridden by player action, meaning that if you progressed through an area too quickly you would end up cutting someone off – missing their dialogue entirely. Thankfully in Uncharted 4 this has been fixed, with characters holding off their dialogue when you leave the area or get into a firefight, only to pick it back up once things are calm again. No matter how many interruptions I caused Sam and Sully would always come back afterwards with something along the lines of: “As I was saying…”
Notebook Entries Are Sketched by Drake
Throughout Nathan Drake’s entire journey, his personal notebook has been an important part of his character – frequently being filled with sketches, journal entries and collected evidence from his treasure hunts. While the notebook hasn’t always been a fan favorite when it comes to solving puzzles, this time around they really nailed how it is utilized from a gameplay perspective. Throughout Uncharted 4 you’ll be solving puzzles and mysteries by utilizing Drakes notebook just like you did in the past, but there’s a key difference: the entries are written in real-time (relative to the game). This time you’ll see Drake writing each entry he finds in the notebook on your screen, complete with witty sarcasm and sketchy artwork. From a gameplay perspective this small detail change just makes sense, especially when you’re ripping paper pages out and using them to solve puzzles. From a player perspective, it also helps to add value to each entry you collect on your trip through Uncharted 4.
Collectible Letters Are Written Differently
Uncharted 4’s main plotline is all about the importance of clues and fitting them into the bigger picture. During my time with the game’s campaign I found myself consistently looking for additional letters, diary entries and collectibles that could help me piece together the intricate web of information surrounding the infamous Henry Avery. While the content written in each is obviously the more important part, I couldn’t help but notice that every letter I found within the game featured a distinctly different style of handwriting – whether it featured hastily scratched out letters or a bolder, patiently drawn out script. These small differences help to characterize each of Uncharted 4’s main historical figures in a way that is only rivaled by a few other games; who typically opt for a similar, more natural format for their stories background information.
Winches Need to Be Manually Wrapped Around Objects
It may seem like a trivial thing, using cables to pull things around in video games, but not to Naughty Dog. In a few sections of Uncharted 4 you’ll be required to use a winch and cable attached to vehicles in order to make it up a hill or pull down an obstacle in your way. Each of these requires you to manually pull the cable from the vehicle or crane and physically wrap it around whatever it is you need to pull down or use to pull yourself up. Typically actions like this are just done at the press of a button in video games, but the development team decided to take it a step further this time around by introducing winch mechanics. Just like the weapon slings I found myself consistently undoing the winch and setting it up again. It’s a shame they only let us use it a handful of times.