Assuming you have PS4 and aren’t in a coma (our apologies if you are), we’ll just go ahead and state it as a fact that you’re excited for the upcoming release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. We’re excited too. Hell, we’re more than excited–we’re beside ourselves with the kind of feverish, white-knuckled ecstasy that we haven’t experienced since our first girlfriend told us she was “ready” all those years ago. Yeah, we’re that excited.
It’s not just because the latest offering from acclaimed developer Naughty Dog promises to be just-as-if-not-more mind-blowing than its predecessors, but also thanks to an exclusive invite from Playstation to live a day in the shoes of the one and only Nathan Drake. We’re not kidding. We were scooped up by helicopter in Sydney and flown to Glenmore Valley to undergo a series of adventures similar to the ones Drake himself will undergo in the upcoming Uncharted instalment. And damn was it fun!
Before we go into detail about our real-life brush with danger and (dare we say it) death, let’s first pay tribute to the man who made this all possible in the first place: Nathan Drake, ladies and gentleman. Part Indiana Jones, part Johnny Knoxville, Drake is the ultimate modern day treasure hunter and pretty much every male fantasy come to life.
Wait, he’s more than that. He’s hilarious and sarcastic. He’s unpredictable. He’s maybe a little delusional. He’s vulnerable. He’s addictive. In fact, Nathan Drake’s endearing personality and abominable spirit is as much a part of his draw as the adventures he goes on. He’s someone you kind of fall in love with on a human level which is really saying a lot when you think about it. Maybe it’s that mysterious shirt that always seems tucked and un-tucked at the same time. How does he do that anyway?
Obviously, it’s more than a shirt giving Nathan Drake all that dimension. After all, he has a back story so involved you would’ve thought George R. R. Martin came up with it. For instance, before he became Nathan Drake our hero was a young, unnamed, innocent boy until the age of five, when his mother committed suicide and his father gave him away to the state. While being raised by nuns, the young boy gets lost in books and uncovers the legend of Francis Drake. Our young hero convinces himself that the famous adventure-seeker is in fact an ancestor, and from the rubble of a broken childhood, Nathan Drake is born. The first order at hand: stealing his (alleged) ancestor’s ring and astrolabe from the Maritime Museum. It only gets crazier from there.
Nathan soon teams up with his mentor, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, and together they embark on a series of adventures so legendary that the planet is still recovering from all the peripheral destruction. No quest is too big for Drake, no enemy too oppressive, and no goal beyond reach. His endeavors take him from the peaks of the highest mountains to the deepest trenches of the ocean floor. Temples, caves, ancient ruins, labyrinths–it’s all fair game, as is enough sex, betrayal, death, mythology and treasure to keep historians salivating for centuries to come. But the history isn’t history yet–Nathan’s legacy is a work in progress.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End takes place three years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and finds our hero enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation. He lives a simpler life now. He’s married to Elena Fisher and even has a job as a shipping clerk. It’s a quiet and predictable existence so naturally it won’t last. Adventure comes calling soon enough in the form of a presumed-dead brother, Sam, who brings word of Libertalia, an ancient pirate utopia buried deep in the jungles of Madagascar. Located somewhere in Libertalia’s perilous terrain is a long-lost fortune accumulated by Captain Henry Avery and his crew after years of ruthless pillaging. Yarrrghh!
Unable to refuse the promise of exploration and treasure–which let’s be an honest is an extension of Drake’s own inner being–Nathan and his brother set off for Libertalia and of course they’re taking us along for the ride. Naughty Dog is calling Uncharted 4their “greatest adventure yet”, saying of Drake that it “will test his physical limits, his resolve, and ultimately, what he’s willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.”
Like we said earlier, we’re pretty freakin’ excited. Uncharted 4 will feature new gameplay mechanics including new rope and grappling techniques, improved climbing moves and equipment, and seamless transitions between melee, stealth and combat. The expansive environments will be painstakingly detailed and wide open to offer the best in navigation and exploration. Also, for the first time in Uncharted history, there will be drivable vehicles during gameplay to make those big moments even bigger and more interactive. Enhanced graphics and animations will showcase the power of the PS4 system and provide an unforgettable cinematic experience. Lastly, Nathan Drake will be more charming, more endearing, more sarcastic and more death-defying than ever before.
How do we know? Because thanks to the folks at Playstation, we spent May 3rd in Nathan Drake’s shoes. It began with a mysterious email that Playstation sent out to five separate media companies. The email was short on details but big on the promise of an adventure we would never forget. Of course they had us at the name Nathan Drake.
Before we knew it we were being whisked away by helicopter to GlenmoreValley, where they provided us with a few key tools so that we literally wouldn’t die on our mission. We were in the game now, complete with ticking clock and consequences should we fail. Our hearts were practically leaping out of our throats by this point, adrenaline surging through every vein. Our adventure included mountain climbing, lighting a fire in the wild, abseilingdown a cliff, eating grubs for food, and driving Quadbikes into a river to avoid our “enemies”.
Next we were flown back to Sydney and given new missions, then separated according to the company we worked for. The Man of Many team was flown by helicopter down to Mittagong where we partook in a 4WD driving course, navigating up hills and over an incredibly rough terrain of Australian bush. Our faces were caked in dust, our throats parched, our pulses throbbing. To put it simply: we spent the day in Nathan Drake’s weathered shoes and we’re getting palpitations just thinking back on it!
Our adventure was so fitting because one thing the Uncharted series does well is blur the line between reality and fantasy more than most games of its kind. Nathan Drake’s persona is so distinct and larger-than-life that he feels like a human being we know on an intimate level. The fact that his virtual adventures can be scaled into real life experiences only further brings his stories into the our world or better yet brings our stories into his world. We couldn’t be happier with our time in Drake’s shoes and we’ll be first in line when Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End hits the shelves exclusively to Playstation on May 10. If you have any passion for gaming at all then you’ll be in line right there with us, hopefully bringing with you some adventures of your own.