Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Naughty Dog is changing its ways in Nathan Drake’s PS4 debut - Games Weekly

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Naughty Dog is changing its ways in Nathan Drake’s PS4 debut

Admit it: all you were really looking at when you saw this in motion for the first time was the graphics. That’s ok. There was, in fairness, an awful lot to gawp at. With the Uncharteds and The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog did remarkable things with PS3. It’s doing even more on PS4. But there’s an awful lot more to Uncharted 4 than meets the eye.

In fact, the demo we got a look at does a bad job of showing just how much has changed beneath the shimmering, immaculately rendered surface. Drake, alone on a tropical island, climbs, sneaks, shoots and punches his way from one end of the level to another. It looks better than ever, sure, but at first glance it’s very much business as usual.

many more glances and some helpful guidance from the developers themselves later we can happily report that, while this is most definitely an Uncharted game, Naughty Dog is making changes in all the right places. creative director Neil Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley, the men who led development of The Last Of Us and are in charge of the adventuring series for the first time, are clearly aware that it needs a little shaking up.

Hide and seek
Naturally, some of their ideas come from TLOU. Take, for example, the demo’s treatment of stealth. In previous Uncharteds, the minute a sneaking Drake was spotted, he drew his gun and that was that: no more stealth. here, as in The Last Of Us, you can break line of sight with the enemy and, rather than magically bear down on you, they’ll split up and look for you. It’s a huge change that, in turn, has an effect on level design foliage for you to crouch in, ledges for you to drop off with handholds so you can climb around and back up behind a searching opponent and also in enemy behaviour. They can jump gaps and climb ledges too, navigating a space almost as effectively as Drake, and search him out intelligently, communicating with each other as they go.
“Drake now flows seamlessly in and out of stealth, melee, gunplay and climbing”
Drake’s got a few new clambering tricks of his own, of course a piton and a grapple rope but it’s the less obvious additions that impress the most. In past Uncharteds, climbing sections have been the boring bits: you find the first ledge, look for the next and press a button, then lather, rinse and repeat until you reach the handhold a designer has labelled ‘Drake almost falls here’. Now there is no fixed path, and those ‘slip events’, as Naughty Dog calls them, are dictated not by the design team but by the angle and distance of your approach.

Skin deep
If there’s one lingering concern it’s the combat itself. We’ve seen the demo played twice, and while the climbing route was different the second time around, the gunfight played out identically. But the way systems are woven together Drake now flows seamlessly in and out of stealth, melee, gunplay and climbing combined with wider, more vertical level design, suggests that combat will feel as refreshing as the other elements. and if you still don’t like it, the stealth seems to be flexible enough to mean you can avoid a lot of it, as Drake shows when he rope-swings away from the final group of enemies to meet up with his long-lost brother, Sam.

Striking stuff. But it’s hard not to just marvel at the look of the thing, isn’t it? The abundant foliage, swaying in the island breeze, reacting to Nathan Drake’s movements as he walks past. Perhaps it was the animation that caught your eye: the way he stoops to pick up something from a corpse, moves during fistfights or leaps between cliffside handholds. Or maybe you were just struck by the faces: Drake, four years on from Uncharted 3, has never looked better. The demo may cement Naughty Dog’s position as one of the most technically proficient studios in the world. But more importantly, it’s making all the right noises about Uncharted the game, rather than Uncharted the spectacle.

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