In case you missed the news, Naughty Dog announced its next game in the Uncharted series at Sony’s pre-launch event last night. Aside from getting a cryptic trailer to sink our teeth into, all we know is that it’s coming to the PlayStation – at some point. Hell, there isn’t even a tagline or sub-heading to work with.
One thing we can assume is that this isn’t some sort of reboot. When I glimpse the isolated title “Uncharted” at the end of the teaser trailer, Crystal Dynamic’s Tomb Raider revival immediately sprang to mind. However, with just a single generation under its belt the chances of Naughty Dog hitting the reset button on one of its flagships is non-existent.
No, what seems more likely is a change of direction for the acclaimed adventure series.
Warning, this next part contains spoilers from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
For a while now fans have flirted with the idea of zipping back in time, landing themselves in the prestigious boots of one Sir Francis Drake. Up until the events of Uncharted 3, protagonist Nathan Drake maintains that he is a direct descendant of the English privateer. It’s his pursuit of Drake’s remains that leads Nathan on his first adventure with Elena where he unwittingly stumbles across a web of dark secrets as he goes in search of El Dorado.
So, what evidence is there to suggest that Sir Francis could star in this next-gen follow up? Well, despite playing coy, last night’s trailer does in fact harbour a number of clues to suggest a 16th-century throwback.
For a start the map appears aged and is laden with marks, place names, and insignias indicative of the era. The latin quote “Hodie Mecum Eris In Paradiso” translates as “Today you will be with me in paradise”, cited from Luke 23:43. It may not allude to something specific but reinforces the notion that this is in fact set in a much earlier timeframe. The map itself charts a route from southern Africa and along the east coast before settling at Madagascar, or to be more specific, Île Sainte-Marie/ St. Mary’s Island. Between 1577-1580, Drake’s voyage took him around the world, the island being one of the locations marked on his route. Coincidence? Of course not.
Next up we have one of the trailer’s opening lines, “Some chains can never be broken.” Aside from being a privateer, explorer, and vice admiral of the English Fleet, Drake was also a slaver, though it is noted that many of the slaves he took overseas were from west Africa. Still, the possibility remains that he and those in his company took prisoners as they navigated the east coast.
However, that doesn’t explain why the narrator – who we assume is an Englishman – was left buried alive and erased. Given his accent and want for revenge, it’s likely that he knows Drake personally.
Casting another look at the series’ expanded narrative, it was revealed in Uncharted 3 that Sir Francis was part of a secret order under Queen Elizabeth I. His attempt to cover up her majesty’s covert operations and web of lies gave birth to the sub-heading “Drake’s Deception”. Towards the end of the third game it is revealed that Drake was sent to the lost city of Ubar in search of a ancient relic with the power to manipulate those who defied the English throne.
Could our narrator be a fellow/former conspirator of Drake’s? Perhaps he tried to trigger a mutiny again the great sea captain or became privy to his ulterior motive. Either way, it sounds as if he was left for dead, something he’s quite understandably a bit miffed about.
The map is also marked with several notes such as “I have lost everything” and “Abandon all hope”, no doubt scrawled down by the trailer’s narrator. Though not immediately indicative, it could suggest that we may not be playing as Drake after all. Maybe we get to see this new character’s journey for vengeance from his own perspective.
More interesting is the line “Every betrayed us all.” At a glance it may seem nonsensical but when you consider that Henry Every (also known as “Avery” among other names) was one of the most notorious pirates to ever set sail, pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.
Not only was he an infamous pirate (which could also explain the skull and cross bones insignia), Every was one of the few to retire with his loot and riches in tact. Though his crew was eventually found, tried, and executed, Every eluded capture and disappeared. These lost chapters in the pirate’s life could easily set the foundation for another Uncharted adventure. However, this still doesn’t identify our “buried” and “erased” narrator.
The closest link we found was sailor Robert Drury who found himself marooned in Madagascar. However, this was some time after Every’s successful pirating career.
Since the trailer went live it has been revealed that Todd Stashwick is the man behind the mysterious voice. We briefly trawled his Twitter profile for more details but sadly none came to the surface.
Prior to last night’s reveal, Eskimo Press went live with information, supposedly from a Naughty Dog insider no longer at the studio. The source, named only as “Erina” confirmed that Uncharted 4 was indeed in the pipeline. Aside from that they speculated that a third team was currently at work under the Naughty Dog umbrella, and could be working on yet another Uncharted primed for PS3 and Vita. They also said Uncharted 4 has been in development for approximately 2 years. Of course, none of this can be verified.
To round off, we’re certain that Uncharted 4 will have links to the past. However, the chances of abandoning Nate, Elena, Sully and co. seems slim, considering how they are the bread and butter of the franchise. Though it would certainly be interesting to play parts of the game set in the 16th/18th century, there’s a good chance the focus will be spread between past and present.
US retailer EB Games has already gone live with its pre-order page. You can reserve your copy now for $99.99. Bargain!