In June, Sony presented a new look at Uncharted 4 during their E3 press conference. Its dynamic car crushing scenario had Drake and Sully racing down a built-up hillside, avoiding an armoured vehicle through crowded alleyways and griping like a married couple every step of the way. Despite it appearing to have a sprawling openness with branching pathways, some feared that the level in question was heavily funnelling Drake’s vehicle down a strict and linear path.
Obviously, some areas may lead to a quick death if they are traversed too close to the enemy truck, but at a live Gamescom demo, freedom of movement reigned supreme. The man holding the controller, a rather bored looking German – with a ponytail, no less – led Drake on a slightly different path this time, showing that multiple routes are indeed present. At one point, he even took a wrong turn and veered off down a side alley only to hit a brick wall. A quick play-off was made by Nate (“I’ll just cut through here”) as he passed through a building and into a grassy square. The hero’s casual confusion at the slight misstep was inspired, and showed that the game’s linearity has perhaps been reduced significantly.
While the initial E3 demo ended with the treasure hunter slamming into a bunch of sticks above a river, this extended variation – a recorded form of which made it online in early July – continued on as the supple hands of the ponytailed man went on their button pressing way. Chaos was key in this second half, as Drake was dragged over boats and through mud while holding onto a grappling hook. Goodness knows how he survived, as the rope weaved into chicken crates and other debris. All the while, the graphical goodness remained thoroughly spectacular as crumbling objects exploded into grey shards and particles, colours popped with rich greens and blues, and Drake’s not-so fancy attire became even less fancy, as mud lathered up his baggy shirt and khaki trousers. After some sliding around, he then became tangled in another tricky knot, this time involving some bikes, 4x4s and a rather large amount of fire. It was similar to the car chase mountain scene from Uncharted 2 but with far more destruction, and an all-round greater sense of chaotic action.
Drake’s brother, Sam, then showed up for more fun moments, as the pair tried to one up each other in terms of their vehicular superiority. It was nice to see the brothers bickering, as it injected some more humour into the explosion heavy scene. While this moment presented them as sometimes argumentative, it also gave us a chance to see their loving and familial spirit. Sam affectionately referred to Drake as “Nathan” in a pained way during a particularly dire moment, and when both discovered a clue about their desired pirate treasure, their intelligence on peg-legged subjects shone through amongst the mud and quips; their childish excitement was clearly visible. Sam and Drake are entirely similar characters through their shared interest in historical knowledge and the pilfering priceless objects, emphasising their kindred fraternal relationship as a result.
The demo ended with Drake, Sully and Sam walking in on Elena as she discovered the plans of their treasure hunting escapade. All signs pointed to her being displeased with her husband’s newest adventure. Perhaps he promised her he’d quit? Perhaps she wants in on the act? Perhaps Nate missed her birthday party while skulking around Queen Victoria’s tomb? Whatever the answer, please don’t get a divorce.