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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”