For those that witnessed the impressive Uncharted 4 gameplay from this years Sony conference at E3, it is safe to say, it had everything. Naughty Dog’s famous charm and wit, action-a-plenty, seamless animations, beautiful locales and a visual package that tied it all together like a Picasso painting sitting proudly in the Louvre.
The demo starts with Nate and Sully bursting through a wooden door from what looks like, inside a church. A statue is present, which is inscribed with the words “I am a man of fortune and must seek my fortune”. Once Nate and Sully burst through the door, they see themselves thrown into a hustling and bustling overcrowded city in which they have to navigate through. The city pops with colour and the texture detailing and the lighting were really showed off here impressively. The texturing of various parts of the landscape were staggering and looked incredible when sat a few feet away from a Naughty Dog employee who was our official UC4 playtester for the day.
The section of gameplay we were shown (an extended version of the conference footage) involved both Nate and Sully trying to reach Nate’s brother, Sam. While the footage starts off at a leisurely pace with the two of them checking out the impressive view of the island and (like I said above), traversing through the hustle of a busy market in the city, it then kicks into what can only be described as all-out action mayhem. Drake and Sully see themselves being ambushed by Rafe’s goons with an arsenal of guns and a armoured vehicle (Rafe is one of the antagonists in UC4).
Nate and Sully get involved in a fire-fight and in turn, this shows off the impressive visual feedback that comes into play when a haze of gunfire ascends on the protagonists. Wooden boxes, tables, sandbags and even ceramic and fruit are all destructible with pieces being sent in all directions while a haze of bullets are being sent in to the same proximities as Nate and Sully. Its impressive to say the least and shows the power that the team at Naughty Dog now have when working with the PS4. Cover elements have been upgraded too, with Nate and Sully both moving around each other when in cover and in turn, eradicating the notorious issues that arise when a AI and a human controlled character are in the same proximity of each other. It was super slick and looked very impressive.
Once the gunfight is out of the way, and Sully has joined Nate traversing across rooftops, the pair then have to make a getaway while speeding down dirt tracks in a jeep with an armored vehicle in tow. This was one section that made me wonder if there is a slight element of a more “open” feel with Uncharted 4 than what we’ve seen in the previous titles in the series due to the fact that it looked as though the roads and essentially the rest of the land in front of them had multiple paths to try and escape from Rafe’s goons in their armored truck.
After the chase between the armored truck and Nate and Sully in a jeep, the action hots up even further when the pair catch up with the convoy in which Sam is on high ground. Drake then uses his hooked rope to attach it to the enemy convoy which has Sam. Here is where the gameplay shone, with Drake being dragged through water and having to dodge obstacles and ultimately, hitting some as well. This whole section looked incredible and it was a visual treat to see it being played out in front of me with my own eyes. No loss of quality, no frame-rate issues. It was all super-smooth and looked incredibly impressive.
Finally, Nate makes it to higher ground where Sam is residing and this is where the action steps it up even further. Drake sees himself onboard an enemy jeep (using his combat skills to take out an enemy driver) and then sees him take control of the jeep and the action then switching to driving again. Nate can also use the sidewalls on trucks to his advantage, where he uses the truck as cover to try and bide time before the next bombardment of bullets comes his way. Just like the section that leads up to the first gunfight, a spray of bullets sees parts of the environment (where Nate is taking cover) shatter and rip apart. Nate still has his climbing abilities, but in the brief gameplay demo shown to us, it looks as though he has more control of what he can use as cover and a more nimble approach to the cover system happening here compared to previous titles.
The visual effects are incredible here with the attention to detail and the fluid movement and action being the main plus-point. it all moves so naturally and fluidly and its something that we’ve come to expect from Nate and co in the Uncharted series and like expected, its more prominent here thanks to the extra power that the PS4 pushes out. We then see Drake being chased through various different locales including swamps and a small village, before Sam pulls up alongside on a motorbike and exchanging words with Nate (unfortunately, due to the set-up in the booth, it was extremely hard to make out exactly what was being said, but I expect it to be something witty knowing Naughty Dog).
Just as you think Nate is home and dry, his jeep is hit and he ends upside down, trapped, with fluid leaking inside and with fire spreading throughout the vehicle, in need of an escape route. While the fire starts to spread, its quite clear that you have to find a quick escape route to get Nate out of the burning jeep as quickly as possible. Once Nate does somehow manage to pull himself out of the inferno and clambers to safety, the action keeps going with Nate shooting two unexpecting enemy guards dead before Sam arrives with his motorcycle for Nate to hop onto.
The action is still relentless with the armored truck now chasing down the two Drake brothers from a scene that closely resembles “Urban Warfare” from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. With Nate using firepower to halt the armoured trucks progress and Sam swearving and ducking between objects and the rest of the environment, the action just doesn’t let up at all. Its these intense, heart-pounding moments that make you realise just how good Naughty Dog are at creating these epic set-pieces.
The carnage ends for the two Drake brothers when Nate and Sam outmaneuver’s the truck and meets with Sully at a motel sometime later to discuss the treasure they’re hunting. Nate, Sully and Sam are all there, but there is a familiar face there as well, looking over maps and pieces of information as to wonder where and what they have been up to. The familiar face is none other than Elena Fisher herself and she isn’t happy. Like I said above, the sound in our demo was hard to make out what was being said, but just from the angry and disgusted look she gives Nate, its clear to say, someone hasn’t exactly been straight with Elena. This is where the extended demo ended and unfortunately, us seeing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in all its glory also came to an abrupt end.
All in all, this was a breathtaking experience to see. It was bold, brash, and typically brilliant with Uncharted gameplay rolled into a stunning and immersive experience. It had the epic action sections alongside the humour, charm, chemistry and storytelling that makes the Uncharted series so unique. Just seeing a brief and small chunk of the overall package was enough to tell me that this will set the bar for upcoming titles in 2016. Many have asked what my “Game Of The Show” was at E3 2015 and suffice to say, you’ve just been reading all about it.