Uncharted has long been one of our favourite series of games. From the original right through to Drake’s Deception, and including Golden Abyss, the series has been a mainstay for PlayStation fans around the world.
But as caretakers of the series, we also think it might be time for the series’ developer, Naughty Dog, to move on.
The franchise has had a lot of success, perhaps with the exception of the odd duckling card game Fight for Fortune, but from a creative standpoint, it may be difficult for Naughty Dog to continue on the same path they’ve been treading.
It feels as if Uncharted games have treaded the same waters for a little while now. The games are spaced far enough apart that they don’t feel quite the same, but looking back, few mechanics have really changed. The only real entry in the series that mixed things up lately was the Vita title Golden Abyss which wasn’t even made by Naughty Dog but rather was helmed by SCE Bend Studio in Oregon.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks to be a fantastic game, and under the hood, the PlayStation 4 will likely offer a lot of new effects and physics that just weren’t possible on previous generation hardware. But will Naughty Dog be able to keep the series moving forward at a clip that outpaces just evolution? It doesn’t need to re-revolutionize the action-adventure series, but it absolutely needs to show why Naughty Dog is worthy of the franchise.
This isn’t all for the fans, either. As a creative entity, it wouldn’t be shocking to think that Naughty Dog wants to do something new. It’s the reason they made The Last of Us and managed to prove that they have insanely good chops as a development studio both in the writing and graphical prowess of their team.
Bungie had a similar fate; they wanted their independence to do something new, and they traded one of the world’s largest gaming franchises to Microsoft, Halo, to once again start anew. The move worked wonders for them as Destiny is a force to be reckoned with, but they did it so that they could feel creative once again. And it worked.
The new caretakers of Halo, 343 Industries, have largely done a good job of taking over the series, and while the games are different and perhaps not as well-received as Bungie’s titles, they try new things that perhaps would not be the case if Bungie were still leading the series.
The same could very well happen for Naughty Dog and Uncharted. It would allow the team to focus on a sequel to The Last of Us or something new altogether, or both. It would perhaps allow them to go back to something with a less serious tone, perhaps taking on a new entry in the Jak & Daxter or Crash Bandicoot series, both games they worked on in their early years.
Naughty Dog (via their game director Neil Druckmann) has also said that it doesn’t know what direction the single-player downloadable content will take in Uncharted 4, saying, “I have no idea what we’re going to do with that.” Does this signal that they’re doing it for the sake of raking in the big bucks like they did with The Last of Us DLC Left Behind? Perhaps. But regardless of the business reason, it seems like the studio doesn’t have a clear enough direction to create downloadable content, let alone a new entry in the franchise altogether. It’s worth noting that, at this point at least, Druckmann also comments that they don’t have time to focus on DLC since their entire focus is currently on the game itself right now.
Given the timing of A Thief’s End and that Naughty Dog has said that the fourth game in the franchise will indeed be the last of Nathan Drake’s saga, it would make sense for the developer to leave the franchise in the care of Sony to find a new team to spearhead the project.
Perhaps there’s someone out there who’s looking for work and knows how to make a massive game or two?