Move over Ratchet & Clank; the PlayStation 4 has a new killer app! Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been the game that many PS4 owners have been waiting for ever since they picked up the console and thankfully, Naughty Dog’s latest doesn’t disappoint (except in a few areas, but that’s a topic for another day). More than just another entry in the popular Uncharted series, A Thief’s End is destined to be looked back upon as one of the defining games of its generation. Although its status as the PS4’s best game is sure to change eventually (probably when Naughty Dog releases their next game), if you could point to only one game that every PS4 owner needs in their library right now, it would be Uncharted 4. Not convinced yet? Here are 10 reasons why Uncharted 4 is the real deal.
It actually’s actually embarrassing (and more than a little unfair) how much better Uncharted 4 looks than the vast majority of games, PC or otherwise. Naughty Dog has always been a developer at the cutting edge of graphics technology, but the technical feats they pull off with PS4 hardware here are nothing short of staggering. This is a game that actually looks better the further you get into it; everything from the environmental details to the way characters’ faces are animated is top notch, resulting in a game that you can’t help but feel needs to be put on display for everyone you know (Naughty Dog clearly knew what they were doing when they tossed in a photo mode). Nitpickers will point to the fact that the game only runs at 30 frames per second in story mode, but most players probably won’t even notice because they’ll be too busy getting awestruck by another sweeping vista.
Game pricing continues to be a hotly-debated topic, especially among the AAA, big-budget tier. The problem is that the optics on the perceived value of games is all out of whack, as many consumers are much more likely to spend $60 on a game like Fallout 4 that offers hundreds of hours of gameplay than a linear experience that only lasts around eight hours. Uncharted 4 is not a super long game (it will take players anywhere from 12-15 hours to complete on their first playthrough) but it packs in more than enough value for its asking price. The story mode alone gives players plenty of reasons to come back thanks to modifiers and hidden secrets, but even when all of those options have been exhausted, there’s still a full-fledged multiplayer mode to dig into (more on that later). Obviously, everyone’s mileage will vary, but Uncharted 4 absolutely offers enough content to justify its $60 price tag and if you don’t agree, than your perception of what constitutes a worthwhile gaming investment might need to be readjusted.
8. It Wraps Up The Series Perfectly
I’m not going to get into spoiler territory here,but suffice it to say, Uncharted 4’s ending is pitch perfect and closes out Nathan Drake’s story in a very satisfying way. In truth, the game as a whole does a superb job in underscoring that this is the end of Uncharted (or, at least the end for Uncharted games starring Drake). The “one last job” theme that runs through the whole game feels like a natural extension of what the series has been building to ever since the first Uncharted came out in 2007.
More importantly, Uncharted 4 feels like a love letter to the series as a whole, with a variety of callbacks and Easter eggs for longtime fans to discover and enjoy (including one retro throwback that is simply too good to spoil). If you’ve never played an Uncharted game before, please do yourself a favor and don’t start with this one, as Naughty Dog has put way too much time and effort into making it an experience that rewards those who have been paying attention. For series fans though, it’s hard to imagine a better curtain call than this.
7. No Other Game Really Comes Close
It’s true that Uncharted 4 isn’t for everyone and that some people are simply going to like certain genres more, but when looked at in terms of the overall quality of the experience, Uncharted can’t really be beat. Yes, it falls a bit short in the actual gameplay department, as its shooting sections are easily its weakest component, but everything else is top notch. It’s difficult to compare titles like Bloodborne or Infamous: Second Son to Uncharted 4 because they offer such different things, but Uncharted arguably offers the more polished experience. Every game has its flaws, and Uncharted 4 is no exception, but right now, it’s so far ahead of pretty much everything else on the PS4 that it’s fairly easy to overlook these issues.
6. It’s A System Seller
The PS4 hardly needs help moving units given that it’s currently outselling its closest competitor, the Xbox One, by a wide margin, but having its first true killer apps certainly can’t hurt things. Sony is clearly confident in Uncharted 4’s ability to sell PlayStations, with the company currently selling Uncharted-branded consoles and peripherals, and it’s not difficult to see why. Despite its success, the PS4 has yet to have a single defining game that makes consumers go “Okay, I need to buy a PS4 just so I can play this.” It may sound crazy, but Uncharted 4 is absolutely a game worth picking up a PS4 for, something that Sony is surely banking on. If there is not a significant uptick in PS4 sales this month it will be a true shock, as there has been no other game as of yet that displays the PS4’s capabilities better than Uncharted 4.
5. The Attention To Detail Is Staggering
You can’t move ten feet in Uncharted 4 without running into something interesting, which is a testament to Naughty Dog’s ability to stuff their games full of detail. An early chapter in the game takes place entirely within a residential house, which could have been entirely forgettable, but is actually one of the game’s most memorable moments thanks to the staggering variety of details waiting for players to discover in each room. Naughty Dog gets a lot of credit for their ability to craft great dialogue, but Uncharted 4 proves that they are masters of visual storytelling as well. Something as simple as flipping through a photo album conveys a wealth of information and this is something that permeates the whole experience. It’s easy to plow right through a game like Uncharted 4 but you probably will want to stop and look around on a consistent basis, which is something that not many games achieve.
4. It Proves There’s Still A Place For Linear, Story-Driven Games
Games like Uncharted 4 aren’t exactly dying out so much as there just isn’t enough of them being made anymore. Many developers are getting away from linear, single player games in favor of multiplayer-focused experiences that can be continuously updated with fresh content (Epic Games recently made headlines for announcing that they may never make another single player game). Now, most developers don’t have the critical cache or financial backing of a company like Naughty Dog, so not everyone is equipped to make whatever game they want, but Uncharted 4 at the very least shows that there is still a place for games of its ilk in today’s market. Not everyone wants to multiplayer games, after all, and as long as developers like Naughty Dog continue to make strong story-driven games such as Uncharted 4 (and people continue to buy them), there will still be a place for them.
3. The Multiplayer Is More Than A Tacked-on Feature
Uncharted 4’s gunplay may not impress all that much in single player, but it’s a different story when it comes to the game’s online multiplayer. Building off the 5-on-5 team dynamic established in previous games in the series, Uncharted 4’s multiplayer introduces a number of tweaks to keep things fresh. Additions like Mysticals (supernatural power-ups) and the ability to call in A.I. sidekicks increase the overall gameplay pace and help dissuade players from camping in cover. Naughty Dog has also taken steps to enhance the multiplayer component’s quality of life, as players all have access to the same weapons and items and won’t be forced to make additional purchases if they don’t want to.
Additionally, all the game’s future maps and modes will be made free to everyone so as not to splinter the community. It may seem silly for praising a game for not asking customers to make additional purchases, but it’s becoming more difficult to find games that don’t ram microtransactions down your throat, so it’s nice to see a game that actually respects its audience.
2. Mass Appeal
Much like Rachet & Clank, Uncharted 4 is the kind of game that can appeal to a wide variety of tastes and demographics. If you take a look at the rest of the PS4’s lineup of exclusives, it’s difficult to find anything else that could be considered a “must play” for every console owner. Bloodborne is objectively one of the PS4’s best games, but it’s one that can only be recommended to a certain niche of players due to its high difficulty level and mature themes. Providing they have prior knowledge of the series, Uncharted 4 is a game that can be recommended to pretty much anyone who owns a PS4, as its pulpy adventure story and multiple difficulty levels allow for players of all skill levels to enjoy Naughty Dog’s finely-crafted work.
While Uncharted 4 may not reach the storytelling heights of Naughty Dog’s last title, The Last of Us, it’s a definite step up from previous entries in the series and absolutely one of the best story-driven games of this generation. Approaching metafictional levels at times, Uncharted 4’s story plays out almost like an indictment of Nathan Drake’s previous stories, asking what life might actually be like for him after he quits the adventuring game. The story isn’t afraid to depict Drake as a supremely flawed human being, but these flaws are put in check with genuine displays of heroism and humanity. The real joy though is seeing Nate play off the game’s supporting cast, with the relationship between him and his older brother Sam taking center stage. Taken to its basest form, Uncharted 4’s story really doesn’t do anything particularly novel, but its greatness lies in all of its smaller moments, which add up to an immensely satisfying whole.
It also features one of the best epilogues I’ve ever seen.