Uncharted 4 is the pinnacle of big theatrical gaming, a representation of what a video game can be in a tight structure, on a movie-blown budget, and with some of the top talent in the industry. And yet, it seems, Uncharted 4 came and went with some nice Game of the Year accolades and truckfuls of used returns. Go to any game store in the country and you will find excessive copies of Uncharted 4 on the shelf.
Uncharted 4 could be the pinnacle of all those details covered above, but it could also represent the best of the once-and-done aspects of single-player gaming. The perceived idea here is that Uncharted 4 is akin to a movie that few want to revisit again- an adventure that’s 15-20 hours long, and too long to play again anytime soon.
So I ask, with the pile of used copies and the split feeling that Uncharted 4 was a missed opportunity, is it still a relevant addition to modern gaming?
There is no denying the implications of Uncharted 4 as a purely visual experience, as the game is stunning at nearly every level. YouTube videos abound about the graphic qualities and they have a natural head start on even the best writers. But, I will try. The visuals breathe with a sensational whimsy that can cause players to legitimately hesitate, a moment of pure joy at the scale, detail, and scope of the screen. It’s not often achieved in gaming, but here we shall go. I paused to just see it- and the game indulges in that with many small moments and an intentional pace. Filled with setpieces, this is not.
If the developers did anything in Uncharted 4, it is that a visually striking game can hold its own on that alone, as the gameplay is straightforward and the story is acceptable but hardly anything progressive. What we have is a tale of betrayal and honor, and Nathan Drake experiences a moment of lovely humility. There are stakes. There are characters we enjoy who are well-written and have motivations. It’s all palatable stuff.
People have passed Uncharted 4 onto the ether of gaming perhaps because gaming is designed as an experience we share and cultivate in 2017, and Uncharted 4 isn’t necessarily that. It is insular. It is something we essentially watch with a controller, and it has slow moments and fast moments like any good Hollywood flick. It offers something that gamers do not necessarily crave, and it leads to the dismissiveness. They played it, they moved on, and all the checkbox attributes that make Uncharted 4 an excellent game do not amount to a lot when players are left engaged with the unending cycle of the new, the multiplayer, the upgrades, the RPG’s, and the progression that has no definitive END. Uncharted 4 ended, and what it left was a happy and quiet feeling of completion- two things many of us are not often attuned to.