The inside track on that stunning E3 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End demo

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The inside track on that stunning E3 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End demo

Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann give us the lowdown on Nathan Drake’s new skills

If, like me, you were left speechless by the jaw-dropping intensity of the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End demo from our E3 2015 show, you’ll be desperate to hunt down more information like Nathan Drake looking for fortune and glory.

Fortunately, PlayStation Blog caught up with the man who played through that seven minute onslaught, game director Bruce Straley, along with creative director Neil Druckmann, to give us the inside line on what was shown on-stage.

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Before Drake and Sully stepped into the bustling market square, the demo opened with a shot of an inscription above a door: “I am a man of fortune, I must seek my fortune”. Is that a motto that Nate lives by?

Neil: That’s a quote from Henry Avery, the King of Pirates. He was one of the most popular and successful pirates, who was never caught, and there’s something in there that’s thematically appropriate to Nate too; here’s a guy who’s always trying to prove something to himself, always trying to seek his fortune – and maybe to compensate for something. In this story, we’re exploring who he really is, what that hole he’s trying to fill.


The first really striking thing in the demo was just how alive the market felt. Has the move to PS4 given to the freedom to create a bigger world for Drake?

Neil: We’ve been able to able to pack a lot more into each level, have more happening on-screen at once, and make the whole environment more dynamic. We’re at a point where technology isn’t driving our decisions, it’s our creativity and what we can come up with for what Nate has to go through.

Bruce: We made great games with what we had, but you can’t have everything so you pick your mechanics to fit the pacing. With each game we’re evolving with what the technology can afford us, and right now we’re able to make the world seem a lot more real.

Like in the car chase, you’re ploughing through fences, smashing other cars, pineapples are flying everywhere, and every time the jeep slams into a building and it reacts, the more invested in the moment the player feels and believes the building is there.

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Will Nate be doing a lot of driving in Uncharted 4?

Bruce: Vehicles were something we wanted in previous games, and while they were there, this is the first time they’ve been drivable. There a lot of new mechanics in this game and we want to give you lots of opportunities to use them; we’ll ease you into it, give you opportunities to learn the new features, then you can go crazy with them.

Neil: In the demo, essentially Nate’s moving at 60 mph, he’s under stress, as usual there’s people trying to kill him, so as a player your foot is always going to be on the gas. But we use the jeep in other ways, you can jump in and out and go exploring, and we’ve been able to open up the levels and let players drive great distances.

Bruce: At the same time, we’ve got a lot of story to tell, so we’re not creating an open world where you can take the jeep anywhere – we want to make sure we’re setting up and paying off everything that we’ve put into the game in the right way. So at times, the jeep can move through vast areas, but at times like the level you’ve just seen, you’ve got to hit the gas because Sam’s in trouble.”

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We’ve seen Drake showing off an array of new ways to fight, move, new kit for him to use and how he interacts with the environment around him. The on-stage demo ends with Nate swinging from his grappling hook and rope into the side of a bridge, but behind closed doors, an extended play-through didn’t end there. We won’t spoil what comes next, but Drake doesn’t let go of the rope, and that drags him – quite literally – into one of the most exciting set-pieces the Uncharted series has seen so far. He might be a little older and perhaps a little wiser, but is seems that Nate has found new ways of getting in and out of trouble…

Neil: We’ve evolved Nate’s repertoire of what he can do, but it’s also about how those moves flow from one to another. So when he’s hiding behind sandbags for example, we have a new cover mechanic so he’s even lower than before, then crawling on all fours, blind firing to hit a guy and stagger him, the smash him against a wall, climb up onto a shack, then the hook and rope might become available and you can choose whether to use that or carry on along the ground. There’s all these mechanics that interact with one another, so we’re trying to give the player a choice of strategy of how they approach each set-up.

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All of the action we saw on stage was to save big brother Sam – is he as good at getting into trouble as Nathan?

Bruce: All the characters we create are kind of mirrors of different facets of Nate’s personality. Sam is part of Nate’s past that re-ignites that fire in Nate’s belly and gets him back into the adventure.

Neil: As a new character, Sam he has a little mystery around him – who he really is, what does he want from Nate? But they’ll get each other in trouble… as brothers usually do.”


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  • I haven’t played any other games in the series but this presentation seriously blew me away in terms of visuals. The level of detail is simply astounding!

    • Oh, I do highly recommend you play Uncharted the trilogy. One was good, two was my fav & 3 was…well, my least favorite but its not bad.

    • I envy you. I would like to play the 3 original games as was the first time

    • The series is known for its level of detail. Also still my favorite series in terms of third person controls and animations. The controls feel so smooth and responsive, there’s nothing quite like it, except for maybe Last of Us which was way slower and less action packed. You should definitely pick up the remaster of the first three. The series hasn’t aged a day and is still technically superior.

  • “Vehicles were something we wanted in previous games, and while they were there, this is the first time they’ve been drivable.” I guess he forgot about the jetski segment from the first game.

  • Why won’t you show us the second part of the gameplay demo ? You know, that one shown behind closed doors to the press only.

  • I remember when they first started the demo. Drake wasn’t moving and they had to restart it.

    • That’s quite a memory you have.

    • It was so perfect right? It silenced the negativity INSTANTLY on the streams lol.
      I remember at the PlayStation Experience when we saw first gameplay of Uncharted 4, the comments were flooded with jealous haters with comments like “not real gameplay” or “fake” or “scripted”. As soon as Drake died and fell of the level in a hilarious bug, the silence was IMMENSE. They couldn’t even form words to sum up the funny bug that had just happened either they were so caught off guard. At least this time, we got it out of the way right away ^_^

    • I would do that myself because I’m the kind of guy who wants to take it in. And ND is rewarding that because you saw that guy mashing something up in a basket and after a few times the other guy put some extra stuff in there for him to continue.
      TLOU is full of these moment that if you stop and listen or look you get a lot of depth in the story that you otherwise would miss.

  • @MaxDiehard – Yeah, they conveniently didn’t mention that. But hey, it wouldn’t be E3 without a live technical hitch at some point. Wonderbook was still my favourite technical cock-up though.

    What I would like to know more about is how on rails the driving is in that demo. I get that it’s not open world and there’s going to be quite a bit of funnelling going on, but but by “just hit the gas” I hope they don’t mean you hold down a trigger and let the car steer itself.

  • When are you going to upload the 2nd part of the demo? :^

  • “The inside track on that stunning E3 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End demo”
    that not all of us have seen in its entirety yet. :(

  • Loved the first part but was a bit disappointed with the car scene myself.. It’s nice to add some variety to the success formula and it does show off the environment in a great, quick way (testament of its technical prowress) but it still feels linear. I don’t mind that at all in the traditional Uncharted gameplay but during the car chase it apparently kind of sticks with me.. I also get the feeling you guys cut the trailer off right when it started to get good XD The U2 and U3 trailers impressed me way more but it’s definitely good to see the traditional gameplay still seems intact. And ofcourse I have gotten a little spoiled because of this outstanding series :p

  • Never played an uncharted game so I’m really looking forward to the collection.

  • The demo looked freaking awesome, i couldn’t believe it was all player controlled. It kinda sucks that this will be the last Uncharted game but i look forward to ND’s next IPs. :)

  • i gone buy ( buth not on day 1 )

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