If you own a PlayStation 3, there’s a good chance you’ve played an Uncharted game. With this grand, cinematic, and extraordinarily fun series, developer Naughty Dog created one of the best video game franchises of the last console generation.
Now we’re onto a new generation of hardware, and Uncharted 4 is set to launch on April 26. Here’s everything you need to know before it comes out.
1. You should play the original trilogy first
The Uncharted games are fairly episodic, so you can play any of them without having played the rest. That said, you really should play them all — not only because they’re very, very good but because some story elements continue from game to game. Nathan Drake’s love life gets more complicated with each installment, and his relationship with his partner Sully grows and changes over the course of the games.
If you start on the fourth installment, the game will still make sense, but everything will be much more meaningful if you’ve experienced the story from the beginning. Thankfully, you can play all three games on the PlayStation 4 with Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.
2. It’s about family
The story of Uncharted 4 starts three years after the events of Uncharted 3. During that time, Nathan Drake has retired from the dangerous world of treasure hunting and has been living the life of the common man. To kick off the new installment, Drake’s thought-to-be-dead brother Sam arrives on the scene, talking about a lost pirate colony called Libertatia that’s stuffed to the brim with riches. Off they go.
3. It could be the end of Nathan Drake
Maybe he dies. Maybe he retires. Maybe he rides off into the sunset, never to be seen again. Whatever the case, Naughty Dog has been teasing this game as the end of the story for our pal Nathan Drake, and possibly for the entire series. We probably won’t know how it shakes out until the credits roll, but the very idea raises the stakes considerably for Uncharted fans who want to keep the good times coming.
Then again, Naughty Dog could just be pulling our chain, and Uncharted 5 may bring Drake back in full force in a few years. You never know.
4. It’s bigger and more open than previous games
Most areas in previous Uncharted games guide you exactly where they want you to go. They’re relatively narrow areas filled with scripted action events that have you chased by a gang of thugs or solving an ancient puzzle. The environments in Uncharted 4 are significantly more open. You’ll still end up where the game wants you to go, but you’ll have a lot more freedom to explore and choose your own path along the way.
5. There was a creative shakeup behind the scenes during development
In March 2014, while the game was in development, Naughty Dog lost two key members of the project: writer/director Amy Hennig and creative director Justin Richmond. They moved on to other studios and were replaced by two of the head creative people who worked on The Last of Us.
Generally a creative shakeup doesn’t bode well for the finished product, but Uncharted 4 has undergone a few delays since then, which ought to give Naughty Dog time to smooth things out.
6. Don’t miss the multiplayer mode
In many story-focused games, a multiplayer mode seems tacked on just for the bullet point on the back of the box. Not so in Uncharted 4. Naughty Dog hosted a multiplayer beta for the game, and most players reported that it’s a very well-made portion of the game that will keep players coming back. Watch the video above for details.
7. Don’t get worked up over branching dialog
At the PlayStation Experience event in December, Naughty Dog showed a slice of the game that let the player choose what Drake would say next — the first time that’s ever been possible in the series. That got fans buzzing about how much they could affect how the game plays out. Will Uncharted 4 be like a Mass Effect game that can change greatly depending on your dialog choices?
Not so fast. The developers say only a few spots in the game will have branching dialog. The rest of the time, the game will tell the story it’s going to tell.
To find out whether that story is any good — barring additional delays — we’ll have to wait until April.