One of the most anticipated games of 2016, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, brought to an end the story of a character loved by many gamers since his debut, Nathan Drake. The final game in the highly acclaimed Uncharted series was originally teased at E3 2014. The teaser began with a cryptic scene showing Drake waking up on a stormy beach, overlaid with a concerning conversation between Drake and Sully, seemingly setting up a foreboding adventure.
But before I go any further into the final tale of Nathan Drake, I want to warn you that there will be many spoilers for UC4 and The Walking Dead in the paragraphs that follow, so be warned!
Still here? Let’s dive in.
Not only was the Uncharted 4 reveal trailer convincingly pointing to the death of a main character, the title of the game itself was presented in a way that many fans thought the end of the series would also mean the death of its protagonist, Nathan Drake.
However, as those of us who have played the game know, Drake comes out alive one more time. But is this ending realistic or even deserved from what Naughty Dog led us to believe?
The Uncharted series is no stranger to unrealistic situations. In each game, the player takes on hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies single-handedly (or with one or two sidekicks). Not only has Drake murdered thousands of people over the course of the series, but every character who climbs anything has incredible finger and upper body strength, something that is simply not realistic. And specific to UC4, no one’s grappling hook aim is that good.
While these little things (and others) can be dismissed for gameplay’s sake, story elements are more difficult to write off when they are unrealistic, especially in a series like Uncharted.
But with an epic story had to come an epic ending. And while the ending was succinct and sweet (or more specifically, the epilogue), it wasn’t totally realistic. Drake nearly died in the final battle against Rafe, and he just barely saved Sam, his brother from the same fate. This final scene was one full of frustration and anxiety, but not one lathered in fear for the demise of our protagonist. In any situation like that one, our hero realistically would not have made it out alive.
An end to Drake would have meant that UC4 would bestow to the gaming culture at large a greater impact than it already has. While we can assume Nate has left his illegal treasure hunting days behind, we will always know he is with his family enjoying life at their beach bungalow. If he had died, maybe that could have sparked an even more interesting story for those left behind.
And it’s not as if an ending such as that is without precedent.
Many games have killed off their main characters. Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 brilliantly delivers to players an emotional blow with the death of its main character, Lee Everett. The player spends the entirety of the season (five entire episodes) with Lee. After growing close to him, as well as Clementine, who was always by his side, players were tasked with making a grueling choice as Lee succumbed to death: should Clementine shoot him or leave him to become a zombie?
Not only was this wrenching decision implemented in a choice-based game, but this ending delivered the series from Lee’s hands to Clementine’s in a heartbreaking and dramatic fashion. Telltale was able to kill off their main character in a beautiful way — and a way that had meaning. Something like this could have been implemented in Uncharted 4, something that would have delivered a more meaningful and impactful game ending for everyone.
Although there are many points in any video game that we can point to and label as unrealistic, Naughty Dog has proven that to create masterpiece games and stories that impact gamers worldwide, developers should just kick the story up a notch and deliver what they seem to promise.
In the end, Naughty Dog led gamers to believe that Drake would die at the end of Uncharted 4. Not following through on that ultimately stole a little of the thunder Uncharted‘s final chapter provided long-time fans.
Do you think Nate should have died at the end of UC4? Was Naughty Dog intentionally leading us to think he would? Sound off in the comments below!