You maybe surprised to learn that I’ve been playing “Uncharted:The Lost Legacy”. As if a connoisseur of this franchise wouldn’t be engaged in another exhilarating exhibition of wilful genocide?! The provocateur of many dangerous expeditions, demolisher of precariously constructed structures, eradicator of rare mythological antiquities and hoarder of every Uncharted Platinum. It’s good to be back! Espousing the wretched deeds of a man with the sheer tenacity and fortuity to destroy every last archeological city/ruin/ship he’s ever discovered. Despite this concentrated level of callous destruction Nathan Drake remains an endearing, if accident prone rogue with all the charismatic distinction that made Nate him such an affable protagonist. Sadly with the retirement of Drake into matrimonial domesticity the Uncharted franchise has pandered to the aspirations of feminist vocation, further diminishing the influence of modern masculinity by replacing Nathan Drake with Chloe Frazer. A women. The inferior gender with none of the rugged strength, intelligence or flatulence that makes man a much more viable option for heroism. And it’s glorious!
I’ll miss Drake, of course I will but Chloe isn’t merely a replacement but a necessity. She has always been one of my favourite supporting players so to see her in a more prominent role is deeply gratifying. Her omission in “A Thief’s End” may have been necessary, but it was a glaring absence that betrayed her more illustrious presence in Uncharted 2. Here she’s as sharp as she is wryly. Focused and unyielding yet compassionate and vulnerable. The abrasive dynamic between Chloe and Nadine infuses their tentative relationship with a fluctuant chemistry never explored in the series before. They argue and bicker yet support one another to achieve their mutually independent goals. I’ve yet to finish Lost Legacy, so I’m reserving further analysis until then. But for my money, not that I have any, this could be the start of something new. Nathan Drakes tenure as Uncharted’s chief architect is over, his personal fortune found. But Uncharted itself may have discovered a whole new legacy to commence.
Uncharted’s multiplayer has always been flaunted as a rather enigmatic expansion to the series more provocative singular presentation. A curiosity promoted to distract rather than attract. I was always more concerned with delving into the main campaigns story first and maintaining a consistency within its confines that would help me complete the game on it’s more challenging settings. I’d engage in an occasional flourish in team death-match, but nothing more than a periodic flutter. Only once I’d concluded Drakes story could I dedicate all my attention on maintaining a reasonable kill/death ratio in deathmatch, shouting and hollowing like a banshee that had stubbed their toe on a table leg every time someone got the better of me, which was a lot – with impunity. Chiefly though I prioritized Co op as I gained far more satisfaction from downing hordes of enemies when part of a small contingent. I relished exerting dominance over the artificial subordinates by collaborating with a formidable group that endeavoured to preserve the integrity of our assembled party. Whether it was healing downed confederates or providing covering fire to assist an infiltration of enemy resistance, I just couldn’t get enough. No two games were ever the same, especially if you yielded to the lottery of randomized partners. You had to gauge the temperament of your allotted team and either harness the awesome power of fidelity to ensnare the advances of opposing forces, or consolidate your position to prevent the less than proficient teammates from perishing. It was a delicate harmony that either endured or faltered, and I loved it. So you can imagine my disappointment when Uncharted 4 failed to incorporate a co-operative mode into its multiplayer…..until now.
It’s exclusion had been a lingering blight since its release so to finally play it felt a little daunting. You realise very quickly that this is a very different interpretation than what we’ve seen and played before. Primarily focused on wave based enemies – at least for the time being – the transition from Uncharted 3 to this are subtle, yet refined. Wave based Co operative play has always had its limitations in creative iteration, with many horde based multiplayer variations largely composed of similar, sometimes exact formulas. It’s not necessarily a criticism especially if you enjoy competing in progressively complicated duels, and it’s great that NaughtyDog has seen fit to at least engineer something slightly different from familiar mechanics. But it’s like favouring a stove to boil water as opposed to a kettle; in either case they both do the same thing. And even though Uncharted Co op veers off to separate tangent it ultimately leads to the same destination in the end.
The goal is simple; survive a varied range of tasks over the course of 5 waves, on 10 different maps, with increasing difficulty in the quickest time possible. You’ll be rewarded with a star rating ranging from zero (slow) to 3 (perfect) which you’ll need if you want to progress to the more difficult settings. You’ll also gain experience that will help improve gun and mystic efficiency as well as increase defensive capabilities. The waves themselves consist of a variety of tasks, most notably survival; killing a specified number of targets within a time limit. Siege; whereby a set number of enemy deaths will only register if you reside in a designated area on the map. As well as less exposed modes like treasure hunt; collect 100 treasures while also avoiding the deluge of aggressors spawned to prevent you. Marked Man, which is self-explanatory really; kill the marked man. Some arbitrary tasks are spiced up by applying specific regulatory compliances, such as only being able to use pistols or melee to vanquish foes. But by far the most exciting as well as challenging features is the boss battles. For me, this is the highlight.
They are intense and easily the most fitting boss battles the series has ever had. It’s strange that despite the series conceptual prowess and scripted cinematic fluency it has always struggled to incorporate boss battles that don’t feel forced. Perhaps it’s the contemporary setting and the way in which conventual villains are dispatched with succinct ease that makes a traditional boss battle feel out-of-place (much like the bullet sponge militant you come across on the train in Uncharted 2), yet here it fits perfectly. Watching the health bar appear, subsequently dominating the top of the screen and slowly diminish as you fire round after round into them gives the player an indication of the severity of the situation, creating an intense frenetic encounter that engages the participants to actively work together to overcome the skeletal remains of Uncharted’s most prestigious pirate colonists, and the duplicitous founding originators of libertalia. Though I should mention that not every level concludes with a boss battle which does detract from the overall challenge of some of the stages. Even so each individual must rely of aggression and evasion as well as skill and inventory to succeed, the latter of which can be altered at select caches across the 10 distinct maps. Ammunition is scarce so you have to choose your ballistics carefully, adapting weaponry to deal with the increasing severity of enemies.
The medium setting, which is the lowest viable setting you can have if you want to team up with other players comes courtesy with automatic aim assist, which helps isolate targets with expedient efficiency. Potential targets will be automatically highlighted when you aim, and as long as the camera is pointed in a vague direction you should easily despatch the hordes of enemies rallying against you. The problem now though is that your ability to effectively neutralise enemies with headshots will be greatly diminished as you now have to forcibly manoeuvre the reticule with sustained firing to stand any chance of successfully puncturing their temples. You can turn the auto aim function off – and on more difficult settings it’s required – but you become less effective as a result. It’s a vexing anomaly that irritates rather than ruin, but still an irritation that would’ve been easily avoided. The pursuit for 3 stars can be an exercise in futility too. It only takes one error, one misplaced jump, targeting the wrong adversary and your quick time is compromised. You have to make split second decisions that could increase or expedite the time. Say for instance you’ve run out of bullets for your preferred gun; do you circle round to the nearest convenient cache and restock, wasting valuable seconds. Or take whatever gun is available in your immediate vicinity but sacrifice the comfort you’d have from retaining your preferred weapon? It’s a difficult choice to make, and one that could inhibit that near perfect score you so desperately crave.
Most games would rest on their laurels, snuggle with them like a comfort blanket and just pass out, proud of their glowing achievement. NaughtyDog however seem motivated to reward the loyalty of its community and provide free updates that benefit them. You could argue that the Survival Co op should have been a day one inclusion rather than a later addition, and if it had come at a cost I’d probably agree. The lack of local Co op may irk some, but considering that I don’t actually have any friends (is that a violin I hear?) kinda negates its inclusion. Overall Uncharted 4’s Co op is a sturdy, if at times repetitive addition. It differs greatly from what I was anticipating, which on balance is probably a good thing. It may not necessarily be what I wanted, but it may very well what we needed.
Uncharted 4’s “Survival” mode is available now as a free update.
What do you make of the new Co-op mode? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Some moments in gaming are so iconic that they become part of the cultural heritage, enriched by the verve of the participants who experienced it. It could be the death of a character, the defeat of an enemy or that hard fought victory you remember with distinct clarity. At times many of these pivotal instances are significantly personal, a subjective view and an attribution to you’re own individual preferences. Something benign, subtle or perhaps even marginalised by the conventions of more ostentatious moments. For you, despite the inert dynamics it imparts something more refined, more identifiable, more you. Nothing illustrates this point better than one of the less dramatic scenes in Uncharted 4. It’s not a relevant plot point, it doesn’t advance the story, it isn’t even that important. Hell it’s only an optional conversation that can easily be missed. But to me this innocuous scene of brotherly companionship is one of the more endearing moments of the game. It’s just two brothers taking a brief rest to reflect on what they’ve achieved, what they still have to accomplish and just how similar, yet different they are as siblings. Though the entirety of the conversation transpires in a long since absent tavern on a deserted, Utopian pirate island (yes I’ve just realised how absurd that sounds) the discussion they’re having is so disarming, so mundane that you could almost imagine it occurring in a pub garden on a tranquil Sunday afternoon or at the end of a family Barbecue. NaughtyDog realise the futility of generating repeated interference’s of hostility. That the continued escalation of danger can sometimes have the opposite effect on the player. They understand the limitations of the violent conduct perpetrated by the ensemble cast of murderous psychopaths can be offset by customary bouts of tranquillity, and that articulation can be just as potent as any deadly conflict. Of course that’s just my opinion. If you haven’t played Uncharted 4 (quite frankly I think it’s time you left if you haven’t?) then this short segment probably isn’t going to make much sense. But I guess you’re here now so you may as well take a look while I make you a drink. Is a beer OK?
I’ve been patient. Very patient as it happens. Applying a rigorous discipline to my naturally agitated mindset. Enduring years of resigned vacuity, two delays and possessing enough games in my library to play so I wouldn’t be thinking about so much until finally, FINALLY, Uncharted 4 was mine! But I’ll admit that’s it’s release coincides with my own self doubt about its credentials. I’ve been complacent with my quality control before when it comes to purchasing new games, estimating something great and getting Destiny. Anticipating a unique new IP and getting Watchdog’s, taking a metaphorical dump in my PS4. There are multiple considerations that go into concluding whether or not to purchase a game. Stylistically does it meet you’re specific requirements? Is it a genre you’d feel comfortable participating in? Does the developer have a good track record of producing exciting, compelling games? Is it developed by EA or Ubisoft? In which case let’s mock and jape their squandered self respect. But from a consumer perspective you don’t want to have to research every conceivable facet. Posturing the distinguishing characteristics, calculating the differentiating variables that roughly determine the ratio of good and bad. If we did that then buying games would become more convoluted than the previous sentence! It’s difficult to evaluate a games quality without diminishing the mystique of an unreleased game. The unknown variables that determine whether or not a game is a good, surely that’s part of being a gamer?
Uncharted 4 is a game I would’ve purchased regardless of general critical consensus. It could’ve been lambasted to the seven circles of Hell and it still would have received my financial backing. It’s a pretty ignorant (and hypocritical) philosophy to have I realise, to buy something regardless of it quality. It’s the one issue I believe consolidates all of the acrimony distributed by major developers, who fail to produce worthwhile content because people such as myself will routinely buy it despite everything to the contrary advising you not too. This kind of preferential prejudice is indicative of people who just want to play something good, something they hope a developer has dedicated time an effort to coordinate a game of substance. And you can’t blame gamers for being passionate and wanting a game to be good. But developers ignorance is a discussion for another time, this is about my fears for Uncharted.
I deliberately initiated a separation between myself and any commercial endorsements, trailer’s, previews, reviews, fan speculation or coverage of any kind as much as I possibly could. Not easy when so many people are discussing it. I’ve had exposure to very non specific sequences that really only clarify how exhilarating the games excerpts are, the overall structure of the narrative and the tension the game is looking to evoke. At the same time I’ve derived my own conjectural theories, constructing inaccurate hypothesis concerning the recipient of the suggestive “Thief’s End” title for one (I’m hoping its still a reference to Drakes ancestor, Sir Francis. But now that I’ve played it, or at least a portion of it I can say with absolute certainty that my fears were completely baseless. From the diverse environments, the rich engaging dialogue, the self referential nostalgia, characterisations and even a very unexpected, inception like reference to Crash Bandicoot, or “Drakeception” if you will–that had me cackling like my drunk mother at a family barbecue, Uncharted 4 is everything I could’ve wanted. The game is a little more mature than previous instalments, yet retaining much of the levity and gratuitous cinematic fluency that has made it so endearing to fans. The thing is is that I’m invested, I’m concerned and I truly care about these characters. I’m always concerned for their welfare. The anxiety I felt was so potent though that it prevented me from playing it for a whole 5 hours after obtaining it! Which really is a credit to the creators for constructing a game series of such immeasurable pleasure, that I genuinely feared that I was going to lose some of my best friends. I’m only about half way through, currently pillaging a Scottish cemetery but can already tell this is going to be one emotional journey, one that I know I’ll finish and go right back to the start to play all over again.
*AhhGuhhrarr!* I was almost ready to drop a completely different article tonight. It was set, constructed, vaguely legible account and then this sexy beast comes rasping at my door, begging me to acknowledge it’s beautifully rendered vista’s, broad verdant pastures replete with hidden dangers and Drake’s vascular physique and grizzled features again confusing my stringent heterosexual orientations! But damn it if you aren’t one handsome devil Nate! I don’t care how long it takes, how much time off my newly acquired parental duties I’ll require to play this. I don’t even care if consent for the hours I’ll inevitably dedicate to Uncharted 4 is forthcoming from my disgruntled partner; I’m playing, exploring and generally “charting” my way to completion! Nothing is going to stop me. Unless, oh god! Unless NaughtyDog delay it again?!
Stop teasing me NaughtyDog and just hook it to my veins!!!!
Having thoroughly exhausted the Nathan Drake Collection, earning 3 platinum trophies in the process (that’s not sad. It’s not. No you shut up!) I do what I always do once a void like this has generated such a chasm in my nocturnal proclivities: conduct a protracted article concerning various fleets of conjectural pandering and motivate some articulate relevance from fictitious events so absurd that it may as well be written in Klingon! But rather than discuss the events perpetrated in a series most are already well versed in, I thought I’d concentrate my convoluted abstractions on the considerably tumultuous union of Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher. Amongst all the theorised mythology and jutted architectures that no normal human being is dexterous in strength to ascend, belies two characters united by severely compromising conditions. Now let’s first establish that their relationship isn’t one of banal convention, but one based of intense emotional circumstances. Your more likely to see these two exchanging gunfire in some desecrated city than chocolates or flowers. They epitomise the contrasting similarities of traditional character relations, stymied in this instance by their respective desires. They really are the Ross and Rachel of gaming, emphasising the conflicting parabolic depiction of yin and yang, just a little less platonic. Their together, their not together; honestly the perennially shifting attempts at marital reconciliation is a little jarring, especially considering there’s little to no context that explains their subsequent division throughout the series. Their relationship is potentially volatile, exacerbated by the continual abstinence from each other, but the facile levity these two exchange in dialogue is seldom obstructed, even by the increasingly precarious circumstances they endure.
It’s a relationship that from the casual observer has been intermittent at best, structured around combustible circumstances and a rather dangerous liaison of two clashing enigmatic individual’s. You first encounter these two on a ship excavating a submerged crypt, with Elena documenting the empty burial casket from the Panamanian brine-waters they aren’t permitted to be in. You soon discover just what exhilarating affiliation these two have with each other. Everything they do is wielded with such intuition that’s it’s difficult to tell whether their actions are impulsive or suicidal! Which is only further complicated by the discordant correlation between them. Both are seemingly apprehensive of the other, yet they soon coordinate a naturally complicit alliance that punctually develops into something more substantial. The bond of their companionship has never been clarified beyond the suggested alienation between games, interrupted smooches, affectionate glances and tender gestures but that’s all the clarification you need really. The acrimonious departure that transpired in the interim and the emblematic band of a wedding ring entangling Elena’s finger are suggestive of something significant occurring between them, particularly considering the strangely absent jewellery on Drakes respective finger. The specific particulars of their confusing relationship is often dismissed as developments we are already aware of, despite its purported absence. Your continually apprised of their separation through expository dialogue but only witness the stunted attempts at marital reconciliation. Despite our adherence that we know these two, the surreptitious contraction ascribed to their congressional union remains a succinct mystery, with thinly veiled distinctions that adorn the tumultuous problems they face. But considering the multiple questionable motivation’s of Drake its small wonder that a woman of such reputed decisiveness is still attempting to distance herself from Drakes increasingly destructive personality. His multiple altercations with pugnacious minorities in some far-flung pocket of the world is nothing in comparison to his dereliction of matrimonial decency and nothing more exacting than his curious incredulity deserves. The dangerous sabbatical’s that invariably lead to such liaisons merely compounds the scrutiny, especially as he seems to attract hostility like Katie Hopkins on a trip to, well, anywhere!
Drake relishes plundering some palatial fortification, prioritising the accumulation of some gilded statue, studded in runes and ancient biblical curses rather than bracing his own marriage. His incorrigible adventurous nature is fun for us, but is interjected with a melancholic irreverence as if blindly ignoring the issue. Because of his wilful abandonment of his betrothed obligations, his immobilized empathy reflects a man stunted by emotional trauma to almost narcissistic levels. Drakes sociopathic tendencies seem rooted in his morose childhood. During one of the more poised moments in Uncharted 3, Katherine Marlow, the cantankerous antagonistic grants confidential insight into Drakes mysterious past. Absent, presumed dead parents, an assumed name are likely triggers, with absolutely no mention of a brother listed in Marlow’s resume of Drakes existence, making this reclusive sibling a baffling precursor to very interesting explanation in “A Thief’s End” (well hopefully). Considering his very Dickensian upbringing it’s no wonder that he has developed an associative disorder and lack of empathy, instead generating keen industry when dealing with assailants, such as discharging witty, often crass one liners after plunging a guy to his grizzly demise. So deftly does he supply inventive vocal humour that you could understand why he treats marriage with such elusive conviction. Yet his seemingly improvised provocations belies a man studiously loyal to his friends and dedicated to his historical causes. They say inactivity breeds complacency, well I guess the opposite applies to Drake. Yet Elena is probably the most important steward of Drakes humanity, exemplifying his own nuptial resistance with a more grounded perspective. Elena is endowed with all the nuanced knowledge that Drake simply doesn’t possess, reading situations with attuned nutrition and acting accordingly. She is also tough and assured when engaged, even surviving the adjunctive explosion of a grenade! In many respects she posses many of Drakes beneficial characteristics without many of his impetuous flaunts and obsessive predilections. She isn’t merely a complicit foil to Drakes reckless endeavours, but someone who can determine the outcomes with explicit provision, with a tenacious pragmatism that is both cogent and practical to almost every variable. With a sophistry that promotes tolerant representation of femininity without the expressed necessity to show off some cleavage or apply make-up, not only is Elena the perfect love interest, but probably the most fair representation of an independent woman, without having to literate it.
There’s an organic legitimacy to their fluctuating propinquity, punctuated by the maturity of Elena who seeks refuge from Drakes destructiveness. Of course their on off relationship provided ample fodder to exchange humorous observations of each others lives, but this is merely the conduit expounded by two individual’s that care very much for each other, even if it isn’t expressed with succinct sensitivity. Whenever the subject of their split is broached in conversation however it’s quickly lanced by Drakes defensive neurosis, further highlighting his permissive attitude towards relationships. It’s evident from his basic lack of empathy that their relationship will continue to deteriorate further, listlessly dwindling into inert spousal abuse. How they sustain any kind of relationship under such frenetic circumstances is beyond me, yet somehow this erratic instability, coiled and stoic as it is almost symbolic of the monogamous ambiguity their lives project. Whether the intended severance of normality is congenial to the combustible rigidity of their dubious companionship, or alternatively curtailed by the uniquely farcical circumstances they sustain, Drake and Elena will endure. If not, there is always the wizened intervention of Victor Sullivan. I can almost hear him, the surrogate paternal tutor attempting to amend Drakes marital complacency, bristling with stout ruminations in the shadows and bleating “kid, just remarry the damn broad will ya?!”
Who is your favourite gaming couple? Let me know in the comments. Cheers.
I “was” formerly conducting an existential dissertation on the jutted abstraction of formulating light and dark in a more centralised and contemporary setting in gaming. I had also begun preparations on the systemic intuition that fly’s, amongst other insects derive so much pleasure from sitting on the television screen when a game is commencing, as well as the pragmatic approach you should take to prevent such an intrusive spectator. Then I decided that none of that made any sense at all and instead sought to eradicate militarised minorities in a jungle with some much needed frivolity. In Uncharted of course. I’m not a vengeful dictator…..yet? And so plots my week ahead too as well obtaining further rewards in the Nathan Drake Collection.
So check out just how awesome (and humble) I am as I complete the final chapter on Drakes Fortune on its Crushing difficulty.