Last week, we got the exclusive chance to play Uncharted 4: A Thief's End in a secret location in London.
The game, which has just been completed a couple of weeks, is due for release on May 10th sees the return of Nathan Drake and will be, sadly, the final entry in the franchise. So, what did we learn? Quite a bit, actually.
As well as getting to play through one of the key scenes in the game, we also got to talk to the minds behind Uncharted 4 and get a few questions answered...
9. YOU NOW GET A JEEP TO DRIVE AROUND IN
The game map we played saw us careening and hurling through the landscape of Madagascar, exploring areas and stopping off to get a closer look. One of the things we noted when playing it was how responsive the controls were and, as well, how intuitive the whole thing was. As well as using the winch on the jeep, you've also got to cross bridges - some of which can be a dicey - and clear over mudslides and riverbeds. The physics of the jeep has been really heavily worked on, how it reacts to different surfaces and terrain.
8. THE STORY IS WAY MORE IN-DEPTH THAN YOU'D EXPECT
Although Uncharted has always had hugely detailed stories, there really hasn't been anything like this. The story centres around the buried treasure of Henry Avery, a real-life pirate who made off with a fortune worth millions from the Mughal Empire. The world's first global manhunt was launched to track down Avery and his cohorts, however the pirate disappeared with the loot - which is where the game begins. Drake's older brother, Sam, returns to try and convince Nathan to help him find the treasure before a private military company called Shoreline gets to it first. A lot of the game's influences came from all sorts of different places - films, independent games, comics - and plenty more besides.
7. THE ENEMIES ARE WAY MORE DIFFICULT THAN PREVIOUS GAMES
NaughtyDog has said that they think the Shoreline enemies are much more detailed and difficult than previous entries. From what we played, they're definitely a lot sharper and have a stronger AI than anything we've seen before. Stealth obviously plays a big part in any Uncharted game, however the AI is able to react to however you play. If you decide to take them head-on, you're in for a shootout. If you go in slow and quiet, you can chance sneaking around them.
6. IT LOOKS REALLY, REALLY GOOD
Although we got to play a short section of the game, what we saw looked pretty immense. The richly-drawn skylines, the reactiveness of the water and the physics of the jeep really went through the controller and it's clear that there's an attention to detail that comes across.
5. ADDITIONAL CONVERSATIONS ARE A THING NOW
One of the big things that was touched upon by Richard Cambier, the game's lead designer, was the additional dialogue and conversations that take place amongst the characters. These will pad out the story and give it more depth and understanding as to what the different characters are thinking. In the part we played, Sam and Sully were having full-blown conversations as we climbed around and explored the area. The same goes for the enemies, too. You can hear what they're planning by lying down quietly in the grass and eavesdropping, giving you an idea of what they're up to and how to plan around it.
4. THE STEALTH SYSTEM IS MORE ADVANCED
"Stealth grass" was a big talking point during the presentation we saw. Although stealth played a big part in Uncharted, there's more tools and tricks to use this time around. As well as using it for cover or to regroup, you can also use the grass to dump bodies and use them as a starting point for melee takedowns. As well as this, the stealth grass in the part we saw was strategically placed, meaning you could potentially make it through one section without being detected - if you're so inclined.
3. THE COMBAT SYSTEM HAS BEEN UPDATED
You can now mark and track enemies in each situation. By aiming and then marking the enemies, you can see what they're planning and their movements so you can work around them. As well as this, enemies now have an awareness indicator - sort of like Metal Gear Solid - that starts with yellow when they see something and turns orange / red when they've spotted you. As you'd expect, once they see you, they're not going to be quiet about it and will call in support from around them. Again, from what we saw, it's not a case of constantly replicating enemies when it's in Alert Mode, it's more whoever's in the area will come to you and try attack.
2. THE DELAYS WITH THE GAME WERE ABOUT MAKING IT BETTER
Speaking to Arne Meyer, Naughty Dog's director of communications, he spoke a lot about the expectations both on themselves to deliver and the game itself. More than anything, their own standards are pretty damn high and, as he said himself, "to do service what we want, we needed more time in development... we're gonna take the time it needs to get done."
1. THE ENDING WILL BE "A GOOD PLACE FOR CLOSURE"
Although we couldn't get much out of them about the ending, the line we kept getting was that "we're very confident in how the narrative plays out and where the narrative ends that it's a good place to stop." What exactly that means, we're not sure. It did seem to us, however, that this is pretty final for the Uncharted series.