As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Marking the fourth and final chapter in the “Uncharted” saga, Naughty Dog has gone all out for one last hurrah in their acclaimed action-adventure series. Fortune hunting, fighting pirates and mercenaries—some of the most incredible action set pieces in the genre— this series has it all. With the reputation Naughty Dog has built on its quality games, it comes as no surprise that “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” is the most ambitious title in the series to date.
“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” picks up three years after the events of “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.” Having settled into a normal working life with his wife Elena (Emily Rose,) former fortune hunter Nathan Drake (Nolan North) has grown bored from a lack of adventure like the earlier days. However, all that changes when Drake’s presumably dead brother Sam (Troy Baker) appears out of nowhere, claiming to be in serious trouble. With a drug lord after Sam, the pair devise the only way to save his life is to find the long-lost treasure of pirate Henry Avery and pay for his safety. However, such spectacular plans are never so easy, and the Drake brothers just might have to fight for their own survival over fighting for the treasure.
You don’t have to be a long time fan of the series to enjoy the masterpiece that is “Uncharted 4.” The way the story is set up and told, you can pop right in with this title and still get a fantastic experience. However, if you have played “Uncharted 1-3,” this title will feel like a giant love letter from the creators themselves. Everything here is of top-notch quality from developer Naughty Dog, whether it’s the superb single player experience or the addictive multiplayer, you’ll be getting more than your money’s worth when you pick up this game, as you’ll be able to spend countless hours enjoying one last globe-trotting adventure with Nathan Drake.
The narrative itself has some of the best story telling I’ve seen in the series. Not only do we get to explore more of Nathan Drake’s rugged childhood, but we also get to see his character grow in this game more than ever before. It’s not just within his treasure seeking exploits either. Rather, it’s his home life in New Orleans towards the beginning that truly sets the tone for why Drake needed to have one last adventure. Within his attic lies the remnants of his past life before settling down with Elena. All the treasures he has found, all the mysteries he’s solved, his entire life’s work confined to one room. He even has some targets set up to shoot with a plastic gun, as he can no longer fight off the mercenaries he once did. You can tell he loves his wife and what they’ve done together, but something is missing: that spark of adventure that once fueled the fire in his life. It’s what drives this game forward, and it’s amazing how Naughty Dog has created an incredible perspective on life within the confines of a single house. On a side note, said level also contains one of the greatest video game Easter eggs in the history of forever.
The single player feels like an excellent balance between the characters we’ve come to love and the newcomers to the story. Sam Drake gets plenty of screen time with his brother Nathan by his side, and the two have an undeniable chemistry to keep things intense yet lighthearted. Newcomer villains Rafe and Nadine are inarguably some of the best antagonists the series has ever offered, with Rafe being driven to find the treasure to boost his name past his parents’ wealth and Nadine being the badass mercenary leading an army by his side. Yet, what I loved more than anything was how much more time we were given with Elena and Sully than previous titles. This has to be the longest campaign the “Uncharted” series has ever offered, which leaves plenty of missions alongside wife Elena and father figure Sully to play their hand into an already marvelous tale. It’s their moments together throughout the run that prove why these people have stuck together throughout their lives. The chemistry has never felt so defined and gravitating, which helps bolster the marvelous action set pieces the series is known for. In fact, there is a convoy chase sequence where Drake tries desperately to rescue his brother that without a doubt in my mind rivals the likes of the train sequence in “Uncharted 2.”
Lastly, with the single player experience already being so amazing, the multiplayer comes across as another grand gift from the creators towards its fan base. With four different modes to try out, you’ll be able to get plenty of hours trying out the different power-ups and fighting against waves of opponents to get more than what you paid for the title. Plenty of companies in the industry today are more focused on giving one great mode in single player or multiplayer than two mediocre ones, but Naughty Dog continues to prove that there is a way to provide both modes at an exceptional level.
At the end of the day, all I can say is well done Naughty Dog. Heading straight off the heels of your success with “The Last of Us,” you’ve proven yourself once again as one of the absolute best game developers in the market today. You’ve crafted the definitive Playstation 4 killer app that anyone and everyone should play if they love a balance of superb storytelling with exhilarating adventure. With this chapter in your book coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next.