Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the fourth main entry in the Uncharted series, and was released in May 2016 for PlayStation 4. The single-player story follows Nathan Drake, a former treasure hunter, who is coaxed out of retirement by estranged older brother Sam to search for Henry Avery's lost treasure, whilst battling a mercenary group led by Rafe Adler and Nadine Ross, who are also after the treasure.
|Uncharted 4: A Thief's End|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release||May 10, 2016|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, third-person shooter, platformer|
The last entry in the series to feature the protagonist, development for the game began in 2013, after Sony announced it at that year's PlayStation 4 North American launch event. However, development was hampered in 2014, after lead writers and creative directors Amy Hennig and Justin Richmond departed Naughty Dog. They were replaced by Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann, who had directed the company's game The Last of Us. Many elements were scrapped or redesigned, and Sony announced a speculative 2015 release; this was pushed back another year.
The development team sought to incorporate elements of open-world gameplay, with many levels designed to be larger and more open to encourage free roam in exploration and combat, while the use of vehicles was introduced. Stealth play was also altered in order to increase realism. Furthermore, multiplayer was revamped to feature upgraded competitive and co-operative modes.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End received praise for its narrative, emotional depth, musical score, visual quality, improved gameplay, and multiplayer modes. Several reviewers found the game a worthy conclusion to Drake's story arc, and it won various Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications and award events. It also became the highest selling game in the series, with over 15 million copies sold, making it the best-selling PlayStation 4 game of all time. A standalone expansion, The Lost Legacy, was released in 2017.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective, with platforming elements. The player assumes control of Nathan Drake, who is physically adept and is able to jump, sprint, climb, swim, scale narrow ledges and wall-faces to get between points, swing with a rope, use a grappling hook and perform other acrobatic actions. Drake can use various weapons to attack enemies. Stealth elements are incorporated into the game, allowing the player to sneak up to enemies and attack them without being noticed, and has been further expanded upon from previous games, allowing Drake to mark enemies and hide in long grass. The melee combat system was reworked to avoid the presence of quick time events, and Drake can control vehicles directly.
While the game is linear, environments feature multiple paths for the player to explore. Maps are significantly larger than the previous games in the franchise, with explorable areas being as much as 10 times larger than the previous games.[specify] The artificial intelligence (AI) of enemies is enhanced; they are now able to react to the player's actions more responsively, coordinate tactics, and cooperate with each other. The AI of Drake's companions, including Sam and Sully, are improved and they can assist Nathan in combat situations, though the player cannot directly command them. A dialogue tree is introduced, though it does not affect the story's progression. The transition between cutscene and gameplay sequences has been described as "seamless". Extra visual filters and modes, such as a zero-gravity mode, bullet time gameplay, and a cel-shaded artstyle, can be unlocked by using points the player collected in the main game.
Competitive multiplayer is featured in the game. Players play as different characters in the series, and are tasked to defeat their opponents. Treasures can be found in all maps, which can be used to purchase items and weapons. Multiplayer features "Mysticals", supernatural power-ups that boost players' ability. For example, the "Wrath of El Dorado" damages all opponents standing next to it, while the "Cintamani Stone" can heal both players and their teammates. Sidekicks are AI-controlled companions that can be summoned to assist players. The Hunter can immobilize its closest opponent for an easy KO, the Savior can provide medical support and ammo to players, the Sniper can attack opponents through the use of sniper rifles, and the Brute can attack enemies using a heavy machine gun. Plunder mode returns, though it was scaled back to support eight players. A co-op multiplayer was added in late 2016, and according to Naughty Dog, vehicles for the competitive multiplayer modes could be introduced after the game's launch.
After the final multiplayer beta for the game had ended, some fans expressed their disappointment at the absence of Steve Valentine, the voice actor of fan favourite character Harry Flynn. On March 7, 2016, Naughty Dog community strategist Arne Meyer addressed his absence and claimed that whilst they appreciated the fan feedback, Valentine was offered the role, but could not come to an agreement with the studio and developer to return.
On May 2, 2016, Naughty Dog's lead game designer Robert Cogburn outlined the road map for the game's multiplayer, citing that "all future maps and modes will be included with Uncharted 4 at no additional cost, and all vanity and gameplay in-game store items will be unlockable through gameplay". He emphasized that this will mean "Uncharted 4's multiplayer community will not be fragmented by different types of downloadable content (DLC) and that this approach will "represent an entirely new direction for Naughty Dog".
The main character of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is Nathan "Nate" Drake (Nolan North), a veteran adventurer. Following the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Nate has retired to a normal life with his journalist wife Elena (Emily Rose) and taken up employment with a salvage company in New Orleans for his boss Jameson (Brandon Scott). Uncharted 4 introduces Samuel "Sam" Drake (Troy Baker), Nate's brother, who was presumed deceased. Drawn back into a life of adventure by Sam, Nate is aided by his old friend and fellow adventurer, Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Richard McGonagle). Their journey to recover the long-lost treasure of pirate Henry Avery brings them into conflict with wealthy Rafe Adler (Warren Kole), his ally Nadine Ross (Laura Bailey), who runs the private mercenary group Shoreline, and drug lord Hector Alcazar (Robin Atkin Downes). Child versions of Nate and Sam are voiced by Britain Dalton and Chase Austin respectively.
Years before the events of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, brothers Nate and Sam Drake hunt for the treasure of infamous pirate Henry Avery, who plundered the equivalent of $400 million during the 1695 Gunsway heist. Alongside their financier Rafe Adler, the Drakes infiltrate a Panamanian jail to access the former cell of Avery's first mate, where Nate discovers a hollow St. Dismas idol. Rafe impulsively murders the prison warden, Vargas, when he demands a cut, triggering a frantic escape which sees Sam shot by guards and Nate fleeing, believing his brother to be dead.
Fifteen years later, Nate has retired with his wife Elena, but misses the excitement of his old life. He is visited by Sam, who survived his injuries and has spent the intervening time incarcerated. He escaped with drug lord Hector Alcazar, who, entranced by Sam's Avery tales, has demanded that Sam find the treasure or be killed. Although reluctant to return to adventuring, Nate agrees to help Sam, but tells Elena he has accepted a salvaging job for a few months.
Aided by Sully, the Drakes steal a duplicate Dismas idol from an illegal auction in Italy, bringing them into conflict with mercenary boss Nadine Ross and her employer, Rafe, who is still searching for Avery's treasure. A map inside the idol leads the Drakes to St. Dismas' cathedral in the Scottish Highlands. There, they discover a hidden temple protected by tests assessing the subjects' penitence. Completing the tests reveals a map highlighting King's Bay in Madagascar. They are confronted by Nadine, but Sam tricks one of her men into triggering a trap, causing the temple to collapse while the Drakes escape.
In King's Bay, the Drakes and Sully learn that Avery, Thomas Tew, and ten other pirate captains pooled their treasures. Following clues to a tower in the city, Nate uncovers a map to Libertalia, a fabled pirate utopia founded by Avery and the other captains. After escaping Rafe and Nadine's forces, the group returns to their hotel to find Elena waiting. Upset at Nate's deception and the appearance of his brother, whom Nate had never mentioned, Elena leaves. Nate refuses to abandon the quest and sends Sully after Elena.
The Drakes follow the map to an island and discover Libertalia. They find evidence of a civil war; the founders stole the city's treasure and moved it across the island to New Devon, an extravagant and well-fortified town built for them. En route to New Devon, they are cornered by Rafe, who reveals that he released Sam from jail two years earlier and that Sam's Alcazar story is a lie; the real Alcazar was killed six months ago in a shootout in Argentina and there was never an escape. Deciding that he needs Sam, Rafe prepares to shoot Nate; Sam shields him, but Nate is knocked off a cliff and falls unconscious.
Elena rescues Nate, who reveals his past: as teenagers, he and Sam tried to steal the auctioned possessions of their deceased mother, Cassandra Morgan. They were caught by the owner, elderly archaeologist Evelyn (Merle Dandridge). Realizing their identity, she revealed that Cassandra was a brilliant historian in her employ who had been researching Libertalia. Evelyn suddenly succumbed to ill health before she could inform the police that the pair were not intruders. The boys escaped and decided to start new lives, changing their surname to Drake to honor their mother's theory about Francis Drake's descendants.
In New Devon, Nate and Elena learn that Libertalia descended into conflict over the treasure. Tew and Avery poisoned the other founders and absconded with the hoard, but Avery betrayed Tew. Nate and Elena follow a passage filled with traps in Avery's house used to transport the treasure to his ship. Fending off Nadine's forces, the group rescues Sam and convinces him to escape with them. However, when he and Nate are separated from Elena and Sully, Sam decides to pursue the treasure. Nate gives chase to stop him.
Following Sam's trail, Nate finds Avery's treasure-laden ship in a cavern. Having already collected a large amount of treasure, Nadine refuses to risk more of Avery's traps, but Rafe coerces her by bribing her surviving men. Aboard the ship, Sam triggers a trap, setting it on fire and trapping him beneath debris. Nate confronts Rafe and Nadine in the ship hold, where the skeletons of Avery and Tew lie, having killed each other over the treasure. Nadine betrays Rafe and leaves him with Nate and Sam to die. Rafe challenges Nate to a sword fight, wanting to prove himself better than the man who built a legend as an adventurer. Nate drops a bundle of treasure on Rafe, killing him, and frees Sam. The pair return to Sully's plane and the group escapes.
Sam and Sully team up for a new job while Nate and Elena return home. Elena explains that Sam recovered gold and gave it to her. Realizing that they both need some adventure in their lives, she has bought the salvage company for which Nate worked, installing Nate as owner, and plans to revive her old exploration show and cover Nate's next salvaging mission in Malaysia. Years later, Nate and Elena have become successful salvagers. After their teenage daughter Cassie (Kaitlyn Dever) discovers relics from their adventures, Nate decides to tell her their story.
On November 14, 2013, Naughty Dog released a teaser trailer for a new Uncharted game for the PlayStation 4. The trailer featured voiceover by Todd Stashwick, who was to play Sam, Nathan Drake's older brother. In March 2014, Sony confirmed that Amy Hennig, the series writer and creative director, and Justin Richmond, the game director of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End at the time, had left Naughty Dog to join Visceral Games and Riot Games, respectively. In April 2014, Stashwick stated that Naughty Dog had recast his role and he was no longer involved in the project.
In June 2014, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells announced that Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, who had co-directed Naughty Dog's previous game The Last of Us, would direct the game. Many story elements and eight months of shooting were scrapped. At the Sony E3 2014 press conference in June 2014, Naughty Dog announced the title Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and a 2015 release. On December 6, 2014, a gameplay demo of Uncharted 4 was shown as the initial presentation of the PlayStation Experience. Troy Baker confirmed that he had voiced Drake's older brother Sam, who appeared in the demo. Some critics asserted that the game had suffered a graphical downgrade compared to the E3 2014 teaser trailer; Naughty Dog explained this as a difference in art direction.
On June 16, 2015, a new demo was showcased at the end of Sony's E3 press conference. The demo featured a much larger environment, large amounts of destruction, new combat, and the return of Nathan's mentor, Victor Sullivan. An extended trailer at an E3 press briefing revealed the return of Nathan's wife Elena Fisher. On July 8, 2015, actor Robin Atkin Downes confirmed that he had been cast, marking his fourth appearance in the franchise. While Naughty Dog originally targeted a rate of 60 frames per second for the whole game, it was announced that 30 frames per second was being targeted for the campaign, while 60 frames per second was still being targeted for the multiplayer modes. Naughty Dog previously expressed difficulties in getting the game to reach 60 frames per second, but stated that they would drop the idea if it compromised the player's experience of playing the game. During The Game Awards 2015, a new character, Nadine Ross, voiced and motion-captured by American voice actress Laura Bailey, was revealed. Naughty Dog contracted Malaysia-based Passion Republic to create some art assets.
On March 18, 2016, Naughty Dog announced that Uncharted 4 had gone gold. A Sony Interactive Entertainment marketing manager said that Uncharted 4 was "PlayStation's largest ever software investment" and their biggest ever marketing campaign for a game in the UK.
The game's original score was written by Henry Jackman, with additional music by Alex Belcher, replacing former series composer Greg Edmonson. The score was co-produced by Jackman and SIE's senior music manager Jonathan Mayer, and was recorded with an orchestra at AIR Studios in London. The official soundtrack was released digitally on iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play Music alongside the game's launch on May 10, 2016, physically on CD by La-La Land Records on May 17, 2016, and on vinyl by iam8bit sometime in late 2016.
Uncharted 4 was originally set to be released in 2015. On March 11, 2015, Naughty Dog confirmed that the game was delayed to March 18, 2016 to allow for additional development time. It was delayed again on December 24, 2015 to April 26, 2016. On June 4, 2015, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, which is a remastered collection of the first three games in the series, was announced for the PlayStation 4. Players who purchased the collection gained access to Uncharted 4's multiplayer beta which started on December 4, 2015 and ended on December 13, 2015. The collection released on October 9, 2015 in North America.
On August 31, 2015, a Special Edition, Libertalia Collector's Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition, which includes several different in-game items and bonuses, were announced by Sony. The series' first single-player downloadable content was announced on the same day. Naughty Dog added that they decided to develop this add-on for Uncharted 4 because it worked well in their previous game, The Last of Us. The stand-alone expansion was announced in December 2016 at the PlayStation Experience, titled Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and featuring Nadine Ross and Chloe Frazer. An artbook of the game, called The Art of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, was released in the first quarter of 2016.
A preview of the game was attached to the theatrical premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. On February 4, 2016, Sony announced a Limited Edition Uncharted 4 PlayStation 4 bundle, releasing on the same day as the game. It includes a Limited Edition 500GB PS4 console in gray blue color featuring a silk-screened image of Nathan Drake, as well as a matching DualShock 4 and a copy of the game.
On March 1, 2016, Sony announced that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End would be delayed once again, to allow a simultaneous worldwide release on May 10, 2016. On April 26, which was the previous release date, Amazon.com began prematurely shipping copies of the game. On April 27, Shuhei Yoshida stated that copies of the game were stolen while in transit to retail in the UK. Naughty Dog employees expressed disappointment in gamers not hesitating to share knowledge of spoilers on the internet.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End received "universal acclaim" according to review aggregator Metacritic with a score of 93 out of 100 from 113 critics, making it the highest-scoring video game of 2016 across all game platforms.
Steven Hansen of Destructoid scored the game a 9.5 out of 10, writing, "Stunning art direction; satisfying game feel; a willingness to shake up third-person action conventions, to know when to introduce variety, or let a foot up off the gas; excellent dialogue that reveals a lot without oversharing; and a heck of a conclusion. A thief couldn't ask for a better end." Electronic Gaming Monthly's Nick Plessas scored the game a 9 out of 10, summarizing with: "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a true work of art, and the only time the slightest apprehension may surface is when one compares it to the titanic installments that came before." Andrew Reiner of Game Informer also scored the game a 9.5 out of 10, writing, "A Thief's End is the best Uncharted yet, delivering a story I didn't want to end, and an adventure that concludes with a hell of a payoff." Reiner applauded the world design, story, gameplay, soundtrack and voice acting.
Mike Mahardy from GameSpot scored the game a perfect 10/10, saying: "Uncharted 4 is a challenge to the medium. In its writing, in its design, in its understanding of what makes games unique, Uncharted 4 is something to aspire to. It's a shining example. And we'll be talking about it for years to come." In giving the game a score of 4/5, Leon Hurley for GamesRadar commended the visuals, the combat and exploration, which he said was the best in the series, and the larger environments. However, Hurley disliked Sam for feeling like an unnecessary character, and the first portion of the game for not being as well paced as the later portion.
Daniel Ryckert of Giant Bomb scored the game a 5/5, writing: "This is one of the most fully realized action campaigns of all time, and it sets a new bar of quality for what's possible in the genre." Polygon's Griffin McElroy gave the game a score of 9/10, particularly praising the narrative and saying: "Uncharted 4 delivers a thrilling, moving conclusion to the series."
Lucy O'Brien of IGN scored the game a 9/10, praising the story, visuals, gameplay and multiplayer, but criticized the elongated pacing of the third act of the story. She closed her review by stating: "Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a remarkable achievement in blockbuster storytelling and graphical beauty. Though it's let down by a lack of imagination and some self-indulgence, especially in a third act that drags on far too long, Uncharted 4 carries on the series' proud tradition of peerless polish and style, with a great multiplayer component to boot. Most importantly, it's a gentle sendoff to the rag-tag group of characters we've known for nine years. A worthy thief's end, indeed."
Keith Stuart of The Guardian scored the game 5 stars, saying that Uncharted 4 is in the category of video games that "everyone should experience". He went on to say the efforts of Nathan Drake's return for one last treasure hunt resulted in "a beautiful and exciting gaming experience that transcends its flaws." James Ramsay of British GQ wrote that Uncharted 4 was "simply the best game ever created".
While Uncharted 4's more diverse combat options received praise, reviewers were divided as to whether protracted gunfights and "bullet sponge" enemies, two of the series' more divisive elements, had been sufficiently trimmed down.
Uncharted 4 received praise from other studios and figureheads in the gaming industry. Prior to launch, Phil Spencer, president of Microsoft's Xbox division, tweeted that "it will be a great game". Spencer would later follow up his tweet by further congratulating Shuhei Yoshida and Naughty Dog "on another great Uncharted with #Uncharted4, amazing work". Similarly, game developer Remedy Entertainment praised the game, thanking Naughty Dog for "raising the bar". Remedy sent Naughty Dog a signed copy of their game Quantum Break, with a personal message of congratulations.
In the UK, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End had the strongest first week debut of the series, selling 66% better than its predecessor and becoming the best-selling retail game in the UK. In Japan, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End was also the top selling game in the week of May 9 to 15, selling 128,725 copies, thereby making it the best first week debut for an Uncharted game in the region. The game sold more than 2.7 million copies worldwide in the first week after its release, and became the fastest-selling game developed by a first-party Sony studio for the PlayStation 4 in the PAL region and North America. According to the NPD Group, the game was the best-selling retail game in the US in May 2016. In May 2016, the game had grossed $56 million in digital sales. As of December 21, 2016, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End had sold over 8.7 million copies. On May 21, 2019, it was announced that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End has sold over 15 million copies.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End won Game of the Year awards from various video game publications, including Slant Magazine NeoGAF, New York Game Awards, and SXSW Gaming Awards. It won "Best Visuals" at the IGN Best of 2016 Awards, and "Best Story" at Giant Bomb's 2016 Game of the Year Awards. It also won "Best Sony Exclusive" at Game Informer's Best of 2016 Awards. Edge Magazine awarded the game "Best Visual Design" in 2017.
|2015||Game Critics Awards 2015||Best of Show||Nominated|||
|Best Console Game||Won|
|Best Action/Adventure Game||Won|
|2016||Golden Joystick Award 2016||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best Visual Design||Nominated|
|Best Performance (Nolan North as Nathan Drake)||Nominated|
|Best PlayStation Game of the Year||Won|
|The Game Awards 2016||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best Game Direction||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction||Nominated|
|Best Performance (Emily Rose as Elena)||Nominated|
|Best Performance (Nolan North as Nathan Drake)||Won|
|Best Performance (Troy Baker as Sam Drake)||Nominated|
|Best Action/Adventure Game||Nominated|
|Game Developers Choice Awards 2016||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best Visual Art||Nominated|
|Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences D.I.C.E. Awards 2016||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Adventure Game of the Year||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Story||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Character (Nathan Drake)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction||Nominated|
|Outstanding Technical Achievement||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Animation||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Game Design||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction||Nominated|
|13th British Academy Games Awards||Artistic Achievement||Nominated|||
|Performer (Emily Rose as Elena Fisher)||Nominated|
|Performer (Nolan North as Nathan Drake)||Nominated|
|Performer (Troy Baker as Sam Drake)||Nominated|
|2017||15th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project||Won|||
|New York Videogame Awards||Game of the Year||Won|||
|44th Annie Awards||Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Video Game||Won|||
|SXSW Gaming Awards 2017||Video Game of the Year||Won|||
|Excellence in Narrative||Won|
|Excellence in Design||Nominated|
|Most Memorable Character||Won|
|Excellence in Animation||Won|
|Excellence in Visual Achievement||Won|
|Excellence in Technical Achievement||Nominated|
|Excellence in SFX||Nominated|
|National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers||Animation, Technical||Won|||
|Direction in a Game Cinema||Won|
|Game, Franchise Adventure||Won|
|Original Dramatic Score, Franchise||Won|
|Sound Editing in a Game Cinema||Won|
|Use of Sound, Franchise||Won|
The revelation that white voice actress Laura Bailey was voicing new character and villain Nadine Ross, who is of Black South African descent, led to some backlash. Neil Druckmann cited websites like NeoGAF in the complaints of racial underrepresentation in acting in general. Druckmann further explained that when the character was incepted, her ethnicity was not yet determined. Bailey was chosen from the audition of casting calls from a pool of actors of black, white, American, and South African heritage, believed by Druckmann to be the best candidate for the role. Druckmann also noted that a Caucasian character in the game is voiced by a black voice actor. Merle Dandridge, who voices Evelyn and a nun in-game, is of African-American descent. Speaking on the controversy, Bailey stated that she did not know the character's skin tone when she came to the audition.
On February 24, 2016, Naughty Dog released the story trailer. One scene of the trailer included a photograph that turned out to be a concept art image for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. This was quickly spotted by Ubisoft employee Azaizia Aymar and once this was realized, the trailer was taken down on the very same day and reuploaded with a new frame. In response, Naughty Dog stated they had made a "regrettable mistake", and apologized to Ubisoft, claiming that they would take full responsibility for the error.
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