Ranking the Uncharted Series
Uncharted 4 has gone gold. This means that like the elusive El Dorado, it’ll soon sweep over humanity, turning us all into zombies! After what seems like an eternity, the soap opera of multiple delays, studio re-shuffles and a series of recastings, Nathan Drake’s swan song is almost here. Set for a 10th May release, it will be the fourth outing for the charming treasure hunter (the fifth if you include the Vita exclusive Golden Abyss). With that in mind, we thought now would be the perfect time to put the disagreements to bed, and finally rank the Uncharted series so far.
4 - Golden Abyss
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is not a bad game; far from it, in fact. But unfortunately it suffers from its platform exclusivity on the PlayStation Vita, where only a small chunk of the PlayStation community: 1. Knew about it, and 2. Actually got around to playing it. While not a Naughty Dog developed addition to the series, the darlings of the Sony first party did oversee the development done at Bend. The story felt strangely familiar to Drake’s Fortune; a hunt for a mysterious legend of infinite gold, betrayal and plodding through jungle flora and fauna but failed to really stand out as either memorable or unique. The forced touch controls and use of the camera also broke the immersion in an Uncharted experience. While essential to get the Vita up and running at the time, they have now left something of a bitter taste in the mouth of those of those who go back to play through Golden Abyss, making it feel incredibly dated and gimmicky.
3 - Drake's Fortune
Back in 2007, when the team behind two console mascot series - the jean short wearing Crash Bandicoot and the ‘man and his ottsel’ Jak & Daxter - turned to make something more grown-up and realistic, nobody could have guessed how far the wise-cracking treasure hunter and his Santa Monica creators would have come. Looking back at Uncharted: Drake's Fortune with our The Last of Us hats on, it’s difficult to believe the two are made the same studio. Gameplay was often unbalanced with huge chunks of platforming, followed by long periods of action repeated over and over, but this was a studio getting to grips with the new direction it wanted to go in and it was an important first step. Though the writing was nothing less than what Naughty Dog are celebrated for, introducing a huge twist in final act (now an Uncharted staple), Drake’s Fortune is easily outclassed by the games that followed.
2 - Drake's Deception
Perhaps the most dividing opinion regarding the Uncharted series is determining which is better; Drake’s Deception or Among Thieves? While both are outstanding titles and near faultless in their own right, it is Drake’s Deception that falls just short of the number one spot. Though the narrative takes an entirely different approach, hinting towards Nate’s mysterious past and altogether fleshing out the Uncharted timeline, the general story arc of the third game drags, particularly during the second act. While Drake is at his most vulnerable and faced with Marlowe & Talbot, the game slams on the brakes and takes us on a lengthy detour of a cruise liner and disheveled shipyard, a chunk that would perhaps be cut out if Drake’s Deception was a feature film. Graphics are stunning, gameplay is finely tuned, set pieces are explosively exciting and Elena is still the girl of my dreams, but the trusted Uncharted plot twist reveals itself to be nothing more than a ‘dream sequence’, asking more questions than it answers. It’s a breathless adventure, but one that falls just short of it’s predecessor.
1 - Among Thieves
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves proves that Drake’s Fortune was a winning formula that needed time to marinate and mature. It takes the beat-for-beat story formula (something that fans often consider to mark it below Drake’s Deception) of the first game, but injects more locations, characters and set pieces all while polishing the graphics; the leap from Fortune to Thieves is one of the most drastic you’ll ever see in a series. There are higher stakes, relationships are stretched and everything you enjoyed about Drake’s Fortune is there and more. Take the train sequence for instance; a fast paced, action fueled sequence. As Nate climbs towards the front carriage, environments dynamically change, there are no repeated backdrops as every step triggers a change, warranting something new to look at. It’s a clear progression from the prison break set piece in the original, giving more freedom to the player but, and if you pardon the pun, still keeping the on-rails elements. Puzzles require a touch more brain power without ever making it feel like The Witness, and gunplay was perfected. Among Thieves changed everything enough to feel entirely different, without ever feeling different at all.
What's your favourite Uncharted game? Did we match your ordering? Let us know in the comments below.