Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End marked the end of Nathan Drake’s story, but there’s still one more adventure to go. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy brings back fan-favorite Chloe Fraser alongside Uncharted 4 villain Nadine Ross as the pair take a trip to India after the events of the last game. The developer now looks towards the inevitable Last of Us sequel and probably another new IP from their second team as the studio faces a future without Nathan Drake. But we can always look back to the series’ past to determine which treasure hunting adventure tops the list. Without further delay, enjoy our “Uncharted Series Countdown” as we rank the games from worst to first.
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Yes, I’m cheating a little bit, as Golden Abyss was actually developed by Sony’s Bend Studios but it is enough of an ‘AAA’ experience to be put on the list, and many believe it to be better than 2007’s Drake’s Fortune. Golden Abyss takes Drake and Sully to Panama where a new cast of characters are involved in another grandiose plot. The problem with having an Uncharted game on a technologically weaker handheld is that the developer can’t really show off the set-pieces the series is known for or the breathtaking acting during cut-scenes. Not to take away from the Vita title as it looks gorgeous on the handheld and has a strong narrative to boot. But it just can’t keep up with its technologically superior older brothers.
5. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
With the first game in the Uncharted series, developer Naughty Dog introduced Drake and his merry cast of adventurers to PlayStation 3 players. The use of motion capture was a fairly novel idea to employ in games and should have been the first of many signs as to how seriously Naughty Dog would take their storytelling. Voice actors were no longer just recording in booths, as they now wore full body suits that translated into believable cut-scenes in-game. But just as with Golden Abyss, Drake’s Fortune was just not at the level its sequels achieved in both narrative and action aspects. Although to its credit, it did deliver us one of the best quotes in the series’ history with a line from Drake’s mentor and friend Sully noting with a chuckle, “El- God damn –Dorado.”
4. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
The Lost Legacy is essentially the middle part of an Uncharted game. It’s great in many ways, but it doesn’t do anything as well as any other game. Its writing is not as good as Uncharted 4’s, its action is not as good as Uncharted 3’s, and its pacing is not as good as Uncharted 2’s. But it doesn’t have a single, significant flaw that I can think of. However, there are a few misgivings. Naughty Dog played up a completely foreign adventure to India only to throw us into a generic jungle setting that could have been set anywhere in the world. The Western Ghats section of the game has little to no Indian architecture. It’s just a bunch of trees and rocks. They may be beautiful, but that doesn’t really scream “India” to me. Certain characters are used as plot devices, ignoring any kind of character development to make me care about them. The chemistry between Chloe and Nadine is suspect, at best. Not to mention, the ending is a little disappointing. The Lost Legacy proves that Uncharted is not suited for DLC-style content. It works with The Last of Us because the main campaign is simple in its nature. Whereas in Uncharted, there has to be cities collapsing and set-pieces galore which doesn’t work within the budget of an expansion.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Of course, with every series, there is always a batch of games clearly superior to the rest, and with the Uncharted series, it is definitely the latter three as Uncharted 2, 3, and 4 far surpass Drake’s Fortune and Golden Abyss. To be honest I think Uncharted 4 has the same number of flaws as Uncharted 3 does, but the reason I rank it lower is because the third game’s flaws have to do with its narrative, while the fourth and final game’s flaws are in its moment to moment gameplay experience. And since we are ranking video games and not films or novels, – and as much as I love narratives in games – Uncharted 4, therefore, has to be in an inferior position. A Thief’s End has quite possibly the greatest story told in games, but it faults in its lack of identity. Uncharted 4 has zero ‘Uncharted’ set-pieces, an open campaign that messes with the stunning pacing found in the last two games, and, without spoiling anything, an ending that strays away from what Uncharted is. And for those who don’t understand what I mean when I say it doesn’t have any ‘Uncharted’ set pieces, I can only point to the climactic moments of the series’ previous two titles to show what an ‘Uncharted set-piece’ is versus a set-piece in every other game.
2. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
I both love and loathe Uncharted 3. In its set-pieces, there is no game barring God of War 3 that comes even close. But in its narrative, it has dozens of plot-holes and outright weak scenes. But unlike Uncharted 4, it is without shame an Uncharted title. It’s paced to perfection – although a little on the short side clocking in at around 7 hours -, it has amazing action sequences, and funnily enough its adherence to what came before in the structural design of its campaign is the polar opposite of the risks Uncharted 4 took, thereby leading the final Uncharted title away from the series’ tried and true formula. I could write an entire essay about the problems in Uncharted 3’s story and the spineless scenes in the game (think of the final scene in Syria or the ending sequence involving Nathan Drake’s belt). But as said before, it is an Uncharted game through and through, and Katherine’s Marlowe question to Drake regarding his true identity sets up the grandest mystery in the franchise as to who the swashbuckling adventure really is.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2009’s Uncharted 2 beats out the final title by being, in and of itself, the sole definition of what an Uncharted game is, and beats out its direct sequel in having a logical story and zero tolerance for plot holes. Its set-pieces are outmatched by those found in Drake’s Deception, but even then it holds its own with the famous train sequence coming to mind. The introduction of Chloe’s character – which also works against Uncharted 3 and 4 as they lack such an integral character – rounded out the perfect cast of Drake, Elena, Chloe, and Sully as the faces of the series. It took me a long time after Uncharted 3 – and almost instantly after 4 – to finally admit what I’ve known for a while. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the best Uncharted title and it only gets me excited to see what Naughty Dog can do in the second Last of Us game and find out whether that too will be the best in its respective series. Here’s hoping Naughty Dog don’t stray away from what makes their post-apocalyptic masterpiece unique and deliver better titles in chronological order instead of fans vigorously debating whether Uncharted 3 is better than Uncharted 2.
That’s it Folks. So what is your favorite Uncharted game? Tell us in the comments below.
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