Unpopular Opinion: I Can’t Wait for Naughty Dog to Ditch Uncharted

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is due to release in just over a month’s time. I for one cannot wait for the release but that’s not all. Much like most other players and owners of a PlayStation 4, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into Drake’s latest adventure, and according to the guys at Naughty Dog, his last.

This pleases me. Like, massively. I literally cannot wait to not see Nathan Drake’s face every other day. I can’t wait for the unbearable hype that surrounds the game and franchise to be confined to a tomb. I can’t wait for Drake to bloody die. Yes, I’ve said it: I’m sick to bloody death of Uncharted.

Now I’m not a bitter man at all, and I really do enjoy the Uncharted games (still not a fan of the first one though) but all good things need to come to an end. Actually, I was convinced that Uncharted 3 would be the end of the series and that Naughty Dog would leave the story on a high. Instead, the developer has decided to drag Drake through the mud one more time – or at least that’s what we’re all being led to believe.

So, why am I so eager for one of gaming’s great heroes to kick the proverbial bucket? For almost ten years now I’ve been following the exploits of Drake and his buddies and for me that’s far too long. Even before I started writing about video games (2012) I was following the adventures of Nathan Drake. Basically, I’ve grown a wee bit tired of the over-hype that surrounds the handsome hero, and I’m also ready for something else. Something new, but something old, but also something new. Confusing, no?

Let’s rewind a few years. Back in 2013, Lara Croft made a massive comeback with Crystal Dynamic’s Tomb Raider. It wasn’t perfect by any means, and some even compared it to Uncharted with its cinematic approach and over-indulgence in last-second edge grasps – something I’ve grown to despise in both Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Like, seriously, how many times do we have to see Drake and Croft conveniently cling to the edge of yet another crumbling object?

Lara’s resurgence in popularity did wonders for the Tomb Raider franchise and, despite the comparisons between it and Uncharted. I grew up with Lara and the early Tomb Raider games on the PS One, so to see the English heroine take centre stage again was a breath of fresh air. This brings me to my first reason for wanting Drake gone: I prefer Lara. There, I said it, I like her stories and characterisation better than I like Drake’s. For one, Nathan’s been killing people for fun for over a decade and by now he’s racked up a kill count to rival some dictators. Secondly, the stories are just better. Ever noticed how Drake gets by on nothing but a smarmy grin and coincidences? For me, it just feels a little cheap.

It’s not that I dislike Drake and his band of brothers/sisters, but I just feel like he’s stuck around a bit too long. I love the globe-trotting adventures, but we can still have them with Lara without having all the silly coincidences pushing the story along. Something that stuck with me while playing through Lara’s two latest adventures is that character development is as central to the story as the end-game, whereas Uncharted seems to just shoe-horn such thing in between Drake and Sully cracking wise about their latest murder-romp – c’mon, let’s not deny it, the dude’s a cold-blooded killer and I won’t let anyone forget it.

So I’m looking forward to more adventures in Lara-land without the constant comparison to what Drake’s doing in a world where it’s OK for a common thief to mow down hundreds of men. I’m looking forward to a future where Tomb Raider isn’t over-shadowed by fancy graphical showcases and over-blown hype. I’m looking forward to Lara having a fair bloody shot.

Ok, so we’ve established that I like Tomb Raider more than Uncharted. Now before you go to the comments and slay me for not being in love with the ‘Naughty Gods’ (they’re not Gods, they’re people), let me explain to you my other reason for wanting Drake to kick the bucket.

Naughty Dog is a good developer, that there is no doubt of. My favourite games from the studio are the Jak and Daxter titles and The Last of Us, even if the latter was a little bit over-hyped. What? The gameplay was decent, but it was far from perfect, but that’s what I’m getting at so wait a second, please. Once Naughty Dog has broken free from the shackle of Drake, then its free to fully commit to fleshing out the grisly world that The Last of Us introduced to us.

I remember first playing The Last of Us on PS3. I played about an hour, got bored, put it back in its case. At some point it ended up being hidden underneath the TV stand, and it was only when I was re-arranging the living room a few months later that I found the game dusty and neglected. I decided to give it another shot and I persevered through the boring first hour (it was boring, end of) and then I found myself so engrossed in the story, the characters and the world that I stayed up the rest of the night to finish that bad boy off; it was phenomenal, and I truly regret leaving it as long as I did.

It was so good that when it was re-released on PS4, I bought it immediately and played through it in one sitting, again. Since then I’ve gone through Joel and Ellie’s journey around three or four more times and it doesn’t get old. The game is a mile apart from the slapstick nature of Uncharted; the story is tailored towards the adult gamer who appreciates a well-written story; the characters are much more real in nature and a lot more relatable, something I really couldn’t say about Uncharted; I find it hard to relate to a guy who runs around killing people with a smirk on his face, but I can easily identify with Joel not wanting to babysit some little shit. Basically, The Last of Us is the game that I’d been waiting my whole life to play, but I’d had to make do with Uncharted while I waited.

I’m looking forward to seeing Naughty Dog further explore the themes presented in The Last of Us and I genuinely can’t wait to see what the sequel holds, whether it’s a story that picks up from where Ellie and Joel left off, or a brand new cast, I want to see what the writers can do with a truly adult game that doesn’t need to make crap jokes or have massive explosions every eight minutes. To me it felt that The Last of Us had barely squeezed a drop from the tap of great ideas and opportunities that its post-apocalyptic word could provide, and now I can’t wait for Naughty Dog to turn the nozzle and spray its goodness all over my TV.

If you’re a lazy sod who has skipped down and gone straight for the comments, hold up and read this quick summary:

I want Drake dead without the possibility of seeing him come back. Ever. I want this because I like Tomb Raider more. In the eyes of the PS4 fanclub, I’m a scumbag, and that’s fine. I want to see Tomb Raider grow into its new body without being kicked around by comparisons with Uncharted. I also want to see Naughty Dog do a follow-up to The Last of Us and make that its future focus. A trilogy? Maybe, but I know I’d be happy to see even more; if The Walking Dead can last 6 series then The Last of Us can easily do five games and not get stale.

So, thoughts? Am I loony crackpot who needs to be educated, or do you share some of my opinions? Are you looking forward to the demise of Drake, or will you be sobbing into your DualShock 4 when the cocky prick finally gets his comeuppance? Give us a shout down in the comments section below!