Interestingly: “The Way of a Thief” was born because Naughty Dog sincerely wanted to make this game, or was the promise to build Uncharted 4 for PS4 the trump card that knocked her out of the budget to create The Last of Us? Conversely, how much has the success of The Last of Us influenced Nathan Drake’s latest adventures? It’s not even about changing the screenwriter and destroying her developments in hellfire – in the gaming industry, this does not happen. But there is a suspicion that until recently, neither Naughty Dog nor Sony would have thought that in the sequel to adventure shooters with mystical elements, you can not leave a drop of mysticism, and give out weapons only after a quarter of the passage.
And if so, then The Last of Us deserves another portion of thanks, because the changes went to Uncharted exclusively for the benefit. Uncharted 3 showed that the wow effect is short-lived, and trying to repeat Uncharted 2, but a little prettier, is a great way to disappoint the audience. The Way of the Thief does not try to throw Drake from one collapsing or exploding location to another. Yes, there are some here too, but the scenes of breathtaking action that even the best Hollywood blockbusters never dreamed of are rare and varied enough to make the proper impression – to seem not like a familiar routine, but something incredible.
What does the game do the rest of the time? Yes, a lot, actually. First – traditional for a series of wall and rock climbing. In Uncharted 4, all vertical movements that used to serve as soothing fillers in between spectacular scripts have become much more exciting: a grappling hook, a stake and sloping slopes have been added to the standard set of techniques, while the “corridors” of the game themselves have not lost their former linearity, but they have become much wider and give some kind of, but still freedom.
Secondly, action. When the shooting finally appears, they try to keep it within the framework of spacious arenas specially tailored for this, with remarkable verticality, a bunch of interesting passages and rich scope for combining cunning stealth with aggressive battles. You inspect the location, mark enemies, covertly cut down everyone you can, get caught, take out a machine gun, shoot the nearest enemies, dash under the floor, run to another corner of the map and switch back to covert elimination of enemies; even “Batman” did not give such a delightfully smooth transition from stealth to action and back – he was very vulnerable when it came to bullets flying in the face.
Thirdly, puzzles, searching for secrets and simply admiring the locations. And let’s be honest: all the points in the end come down to the third one. Cute, but simple puzzles are interesting not as an excuse to spin a couple of gears in your head, but as cool-looking and moderately plausible mechanisms that help you feel the character of the pirate who left them. The search for secrets as an end in itself is completely useless: Naughty Dog did not follow the example of either Golden Abyss or Lara Croft’s new adventures and again turned the treasures scattered around the world into a set of useless high-poly models without a hint of historical or sentimental value behind them. It’s still nice to look for them, but precisely because it gives one more reason to study in detail the locations worked out to the smallest detail, into which fate throws Drake.
And finally, the most important element of Uncharted 4 is the narrative. Naughty Dog once again reminds everyone that no matter what story you want to tell, this is not a reason to forego gameplay for its sake. Whether it’s a conflict between a pair of estranged brothers, a desire to make history, or a midlife crisis shown through the eyes of a hard worker mired in the routine, longing for the adventures of youth, Uncharted manages to tell it all in such a way that by the end credits you don’t want to ask: “Hey, uh where is the gameplay? Which, however, does not make the story of A Thief’s End perfect: Drake’s drama is sucked from the finger and rests on the assumption that it took him and Elena several years, Nathan’s older brother taken out of the abyss of the retcon, and another deadly adventure in order to realize that what they should have understood already during the credits of the third part. But even if Uncharted 4 prefers not to give the characters impetus to develop in new and interesting directions, but to draw the last veins from the topics sucked in the trilogy, it’s easy to forgive: the presentation is very good. Characters, dialogues, staging – everything is on top, it’s a sin not to be imbued with a story told like that. On the other hand, the drama of freedom-loving pirates and their paradise island without dictates and prohibitions did not need any screensavers to become the most fascinating part of the plot. Let this be a lesson to Naughty Dog: the quality of the performance can save everything, but if the story is good in itself, then it does not need to be saved. plenty sucked in the trilogy, it’s easy to forgive: the presentation is very good. Characters, dialogues, staging – everything is on top, it’s a sin not to be imbued with a story told like that. On the other hand, the drama of freedom-loving pirates and their paradise island without dictates and prohibitions did not need any screensavers to become the most fascinating part of the plot. Let this be a lesson to Naughty Dog: the quality of the performance can save everything, but if the story is good in itself, then it does not need to be saved. plenty sucked in the trilogy, it’s easy to forgive: the presentation is very good. Characters, dialogues, staging – everything is on top, it’s a sin not to be imbued with a story told like that. On the other hand, the drama of freedom-loving pirates and their paradise island without dictates and prohibitions did not need any screensavers to become the most fascinating part of the plot. Let this be a lesson to Naughty Dog: the quality of the performance can save everything, but if the story is good in itself, then it does not need to be saved.
Many people think that Naughty Dog games don’t need multiplayer. And rightly so: the story modes of her games fully justify the acquisition without any help from online games. It’s not a sin to pay even for a one-time acquaintance with them, but it’s not a sin to replay them (whether due to increased difficulty levels, or with visual filters turned on and a cheat for an endless rocket launcher). But if they give you an exciting (and free) multiplayer from above, what’s the point of refusing?
Unless sometimes it seems that the maps for online skirmishes in Uncharted 4 are inferior in size not only to their predecessors, but also to the arenas from its single player. It’s not that it interferes – the maps are well balanced for a reduced number of participants (up to five in a team); but it would be nicer to see bigger maps balanced for the respective crowds of players.
Otherwise, this is still the same Uncharted 4 with its pleasant shooting, light stealth elements and a strong emphasis on the verticality of the maps. Unless the authors have attached the ability to save money, pump their grenades for them, buy powerful weapons and computer-controlled partners, and activate magical relics on the basic abilities from a single player game. There are several types of both, and the third in the game (not very many, but enough for a start, and later the authors will also bring new content in the form of free DLC). And almost everything is effective to one degree or another, so creating builds becomes another dilemma (especially since the number of points for creation is limited, which means that taking everything you want and strengthening it with the coolest perks will not work – you have to sacrifice something).
As for microtransactions (which, alas, there are), they do not interfere at all in Uncharted 4. Moreover, they make very little sense. Yes, for money you can buy not a random set of skins, but a specific hat or glasses that you especially liked, but it’s not worth it: completing daily missions (as well as completing training tasks or completing Uncharted: Fortune Hunter’s free mobile puzzle) brings enough virtual currency so that you always have enough resources to open new chests with random goodies. There are no repetitions, the number is not off scale yet, so you will quickly find everything you wanted. And if you leave the game early, then there will be a reason to be glad that you did not spend money on a skin for an online shooter that, for one reason or another, could not captivate you.
With the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, linear adventure shooters have a new benchmark, raising the bar no worse than The Witcher 3 for open world games. And the adventures of Drake got a worthy ending – even though we didn’t know before his appearance that the trilogy needed some other ending.
To be able to hold and raise the bar is important. Know how to end your stories too. And how great it is when both of these rare skills are found in the same team.