On rare occasions, you’ll have a chance to play through a video game experience that constantly keeps you in shock, presenting characters that you quickly fall in love with and become invested in. Suddenly, every decision they make matters to you, more than they should, and before you know it, the journey you’ve become so engrossed in ends.
Uncharted, as a franchise, is one such experience, which began when Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune launched in 2007. For the past nine years, PlayStation owners have been joining Nathan Drake on his treasure hunting adventures and experiencing all of the wild moments that they bring, but this week, it’s time to say goodbye with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s release. The last installment in the franchise is certainly one for the books, filled with everything Naughty Dog stands for as a development studio: there’s exceptional dialogue between characters, Bond-like moments of unbelievable action and the witty sarcasm of Nathan Drake to keep everyone entertained in between. During my time with Uncharted 4 I screamed, I yelled, I laughed and I cried – watching as the last experience unfolded in front of me.
Here at Inverse we’ve prepared for the end of Uncharted and now that we’ve experienced it, we’re here to share our favorite moments from Drake’s final chapter. Needless to say, we avoided including scenes previously shown in demos. Spoilers ahead; you’ve been warned.
A Normal Life
Chapter 4 of Uncharted 4 is easily one of the best scenes in the franchise. Taking place at Drake’s new home, we get a chance to see what married life is like for our favorite treasure hunter. His adventures are now limited to an attic filled with his fondest memories, which sit next to his infamous leather holster, now holding a toy gun used to shoot at plastic targets. Throughout this area of the game we witness the consequences of the promise Drake and Elena made to each other when they got married, one that keeps them safe at home without bullets or pirates threatening their lives. This decision of course has its fair share of side effects which Drake and Elena both show throughout their conversations and meaningless banter. It’s endearing to see them together because it’s something we’ve waited to see for the entire franchise, but it comes at a cost – namely, the thrill of adventure that kept them alive. This entire section helps to set the tone present in Uncharted 4 while providing a ton of throwbacks to dedicated fans of the franchise that are all tasteful, simple and meaningful in their own right. Did I mention there’s a fantastic original PlayStation throwback too? You’ve got to love good ‘ole Crash Bandicoot.
The Black Market Auction
After agreeing to help his long lost brother Sam, Drake and Sully join him at a black market auction in order to steal the second cross, containing a clue to the location of Captain Henry Avery’s treasure. While they had a solid plan going in, things naturally get complicated after their ex-partner Rafe shows up to purchase the second cross for himself in pursuit of Avery’s treasure. Here, we see an aged Drake (who’s been out of the business for a few years) try to remember how to pull a robbery like this off, constantly building up his own confidence with one-liners and bad jokes.
Once again Naughty Dog managed to pull the dynamic off very well despite this section containing plenty more action than that of chapter 4, keeping his clumsiness present throughout every action sequence. This culminates in Drake’s first encounter with Nadine Ross during his escape – when she absolutely kicks his ass as he continues to throw sarcasm in her face despite being beaten at his own game for the first time in a long time. In a way, it helps to portray the vulnerability Drake now has to the player. He’s no longer the best, most respected or dangerous treasure hunter. He’s just a relic to his competitors.
The Tower Collapse
Once Drake and his brother reach Libertalia after shipwrecking off the coast of the island, there’s a few brief moments when we see the brothers exploring the city and reminiscing on a question we’ve all had as players: what would Drake be like if he had pursed a different path? While the question is discussed between the two brothers though a series of minor enemy encounters, it leads up to a faceoff between Shoreline, Nadine and the brothers where Naughty Dog truly shows its prowess at creating action sequences. Once reaching a vantage point all hell breaks loose as the two plummet down a collapsing building while Nadine’s men put a few dozen RPG rounds into them as they do. During this scene there’s a crazy amount of stuff happening that truly showcases the power behind the hardware of the PlayStation 4. Plus, towards the end of the sequence we get to experience one of the most well-choreographed fist fights in recent video game history between Drake, Sam and Nadine. Seriously, I’ve played through it close to a dozen times and it still hasn’t got old.
Henry Avery’s Secret Passageway
While Drake and Elena’s journey through New Devan was filled with memorable lines of dialogue and impressive set pieces, none of them could even compare to the section where the duo navigate through Henry Avery’s personal escape tunnel to the ship graveyard. Throughout this entire section the two are forced to navigate through deadly pirate traps while engaging Nadine’s troops amidst the chaos. More importantly though, this section slowly rekindles the relationship between Drake and Elena following their fight about Drake lying directly to his wife. As journalists tend to do, Elena does end up finding about Drake’s intentions to save his brother and comes to rescue him despite her intense feelings against it due to his actions. Slowly we witness the two build up a semblance of trust as they crack jokes and comment on each other’s actions while navigating the tunnels together, which brings us back to the days of when they first met. Honestly, it’s a trip down memory lane that I didn’t even know I wanted – but one that really pays off once the two finally make it out alive with one of Uncharted’s best cinematics to-date.