The annual E3 event rapped up last week, giving gamers a glimpse into the latest videogames in development for their consoles. Sony’s subsidiary videogame developers, Naughty Dog unveiled the trailer for their latest title, Uncharted: A Thief’s End, which was streamed via a Playstation 4 using in-game graphics rather than CGI.Naughty Dog have had a phenomenal track record in developing top quality videogames in over 25 years of existence. From humble beginnings to their more modern breakthrough hits with the Crash Bandicoot and Jack and Daxter franchises, Naughty Dog proved themselves worthy enough to be adopted by Sony Entertainment as a second party developer. This was an incredible feat for western developers during an era when Japan carried the video game industry on its shoulders.
The Uncharted series follows Nathan Drake, a charming, daring treasure hunter who just happens to get into more gun fights with opponents than he does at actually finding treasure. The first title, Uncharted: Drake’s fortune, was released in 2007. Players led Drake through exotic South American locations in search of the fabled city, El Dorado. He is accompanied by his cigar toting, bowling shirt wearing, quick-witted mentor, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, who quickly became a fan favourite of the series. Initially deduced as an imitation of the Tomb Raider franchise, the game’s fun gameplay mechanics, robust story and characters, and excellent visuals steered the series into its own league. The game’s High production values were praised by critics who likened Uncharted to a blockbuster film.
The games follow up, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released in 2009 to universal critical acclaim, winning numerous “Game of the Year” awards by various institutions. The sequel led players through various locations, including Nepal and the Himalayas in search of the lost city of Shambhala. With every iteration of the Sony Playstation, Naughty Dog has pushed the limits of the console’s capabilities and Uncharted is no exception. Motion capture technology enabled realistic movements and the game engine utilised 90 to 100% of its processing power for a significant improvement in visuals. Gameplay mechanics were also tightened, especially during gun-fights and an online multiplayer mode was introduced for increased longevity of the game.
It seemed to be near impossible to improve on such a monumental effort, but Naughty Dog went from strength to strength with the 2011 release of Uncharted: Drake’s Deception, the series’ most ambitious title to date. The developers fine-tuned their game engine, leading to incredible visual effects such as visible grains of sand, which flow over the dunes among a vast desert setting. Its improved textures provided a more realistic visual experience, and the physics engine had been improved to look more authentic. This title focused on Drake’s relationship with Sully, to the delight of fans of the series, providing more depth to the characters through their history. Drake travelled to even more exotic locations this time, from a castle in Syria to the streets of Colombia and many places in-between. Players were rewarded with incredible visual representations of these environments. The franchise had done well, spawning a book, a comic series and a spin-off title for the Playstation Vita, however, the end of the last game left fans curious about the future of the series.
Their curiosity was satiated during the trailer, which appears to be set several years after the last game. A slightly older Drake wakes up on an island while a voice over of a conversation between Drake and Sully implies that they are ready to embark on one last treasure hunt. Not many other details are known, however, a teaser trailer released earlier shows a map of the African continent, which may be the region that Drake will travel around in his latest adventure. Regardless of the scarcity of details, it is without a doubt that Naughty Dog’s impeccable reputation at producing high quality videogames will ensure a much needed, incredible experience for gamers. Uncharted: A Thief’s End will be released on Playstation 4 sometime in 2015.