Why Uncharted 4 Is Naughty Dog’s Last Uncharted

Why Uncharted 4 Is Naughty Dog’s Last Uncharted

In the run up to Uncharted 4‘s release, Naughty Dog’s hinted that this will probably be their last Uncharted. Also, it’s kinda in the title. “A Thief’s End” is a little, you know… final.

I asked lead game designer Robert Cogburn why Naughty Dog’s saying they’re gonna hang up the half-tuck after Uncharted 4 comes out, and he told me there are a bunch of reasons. First off, Uncharted‘s universe is relatively realistic — modern-day Earth, technology mostly like ours, normal-ish people, etc — and it’s getting harder and harder to expand it without straining credulity.

“This will be our fourth Uncharted game,” Cogburn told me during an interview at PSX. “These games are hard to make. Particularly with a character like Nathan Drake in a world that’s fairly grounded, it’s a challenge to consider how much more we can expand the universe while adhering to those sorts of rules.”

Naughty Dog is also aching to stretch their wings mechanically. Uncharted — while obviously a huge and multi-faceted undertaking — has become a box for them over time. They want to break out of it.

“You struggle with having to answer the same questions over and over again in any franchise,” said Cogburn. “This is gonna be the fourth time we start answering stuff like, ‘How do we make hand-grabs visible? What do we do to scale the combat experience? What are the interesting puzzles we can be introducing in the moment-to-moment as the player’s experiencing this narrative?’ That’s not to say the questions will be the same in games we make going forward, but as a studio we grow tired of answering those same types of questions in the same fiction. It’s gonna be fun for us to really embark on new ideas and start fleshing those out [in a new series].”

I asked him if The Last of Us functioned as a kind of litmus test for all of this, and he said it probably factored to an extent, but it wasn’t a make-or-break thing.

“If The Last of Us had done terribly, sure, things might’ve been reconsidered,” Cogburn admitted. “I struggle to say how big of an impact The Last of Us had on us in that regard, though. I can say that it made us realise as a studio that we’re doing it right.”

Jokingly, I added that I suppose this means we’ll never see the natural next evolution of Uncharted‘s pulp adventuring: Uncharted Goes To Space. Cogburn replied that Naughty Dog actually had considered it.

“We’ve definitely had brainstorms on that idea,” he said, “but no.”

Still, we can dream. And so can Cogburn.

“I can already see the scene,” he said, chuckling. “Elena says, ‘Where do we go now, Drake?’ And Drake’s like, ‘THE MOON.’ And then Sully’s in the background saying, ‘You’re goddamned right we’re going to the moon, kid.'”


  • We’re whalers on the moon,
    We carry a harpoon.
    But there ain’t no whales
    So we tell tall tales
    And sing our whaling tune.

  • I’m OK with this. Been a good ride, but move on to other things and we may end up with something even better!

  • I’ve got enough faith in Naughty Dog at this point to be pretty confident that whatever they do instead of Uncharted will be just as good, if not better.

    Now if only Santa Monica would do the same thing and leave God of War behind for something new.

    • Definitely…This!

      I am concerned with Santa Monica that they are a one trick pony in the fact that they can’t seem to let Kratos go.

      • To be fair, they do a lot of collaborative work with other studios, especially some of the external indie ones, so God of War isn’t all they do. But certainly it’s the only thing they seem to put out under their own name. They’re clearly a good developer based on the quality of the GOW games, but it was feeling bloody tired by the time Ascension came along, and as much as I loved the GOW 1 – 3, I don’t really feel any great urge for a new one unless they’ve got something really amazing up their sleeve.

        • You raise a good point and after a quick look into their collaborative efforts then I do stand corrected.

          I think it was the bad taste Ascension that has made me feel that way, I never finished it due to not being able to get past one of the levels near the endwhere you stood on the circular platform and had to fight through a bunch of enemies which respawned once it got to each level. On my last try I made it, only to be killed just past where you walk through, and when I reloaded I was back the start. I even tried to beat it on easy *sigh* I am going to go and re-assess my life now 🙂

          • If it makes you feel any better, what came after that bit was no better than what came before it 😛 So you weren’t missing out on much, assuming you already played the first 3 games in the series before Ascension.

          • Yeah I did, and enjoyed all of them very much. I was enjoying Ascension right up until that point as well.

            In saying that, so much time has passed I am even contemplating going back and seeing if I can finish it. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

      • Have you seen the list of games SCE Santa Monica has been involved in? While the God of War games seeem to be the only ones they solely develop, they’ve got their foot in a huge number of other games as a support studio / co-developer.

        It’d be nice if they got a chance to work on a new original game, but they are a lot more than just GoW.

        • After Braaains’ comment I did go and check what other work they did. And I did respond above saying that I stand corrected. That’s what I get for assuming! 🙂

      • At the same time God of War is so good, I want to see that raw anger and artistry realized on PS4.

        I think Guerrilla made the best move from FPS to RPG. I think that we no longer need to have shoddy controls on huge RPG’s, which makes pure FPS games look like indie games.

        None of the SONY first party studios are making pure FPS anymore. they are doing the weirdest stuff we can imagine and then some.

    • As much as I love TLOU, I think that a desolate world, tragic story and zombie mechanics are the easy way out for any game developer.

      It appears so easy to get people emotionally involved in tragic stories. I think Uncharted may look easy, but an adventurous world, funny and exciting story and gun-play are considerably more challenging to create (specially when you’re hanging out of a cargo plane).

      I think it’s easy to make people sad and hard to make people laugh. To welcome an audience to a game claiming it’s a thrill ride and still deliver!

      • I liked uncharted but gameplay wise it wasn’t as fun for me (no tension in shoot outs) and it didn’t make me laugh at all

        • I’m currently playing through Uncharted 3 for the second time, and it’s still pretty funny and entertaining as well as dramatic (remember the part where you thought Sully was dead).

          Like I said delivering tension and drama is easy in an apocalypse with a little girl to look after (I’m pointing at two games here).

          • Remember when you thought sully was dead in the first uncharted and within 2 minutes nathan drake is cracking jokes and talking about treasures? Series doesnt have shit on last of us, there’s 3 uncharteds soon to be 4 and one tlou. Dont think im being ridiculous in wanting more. Also the tension delivery shit doesnt make sense. There is fuck all of anything in uncharted. Its a popcorn brainless adventure romp and its a damn fine one. Good game for young teens

          • Young teens enjoy apocalypse/zombie games as well. I would give TLOU 10/10. But all I’m saying is “they can bring the level of story telling and emotional investment (they’ve mastered) from TLOU to Uncharted, but it will be more difficult” because it’s not another apocalypse game.

            I don’t want them to take the easy way out precisely because they are Naughty Dog.

          • Wouldn’t it be more difficult to make a tlou sequel? Considering how well received it was, its almost guaranteed to be slightly disappointing, im fairly sure they themselves have expressed concerns in making a sequel just based on tlou being near perfect. Uncharted 4 will be great and 3 was awesome but i dont think its as hard to top as a sequel to tlou. Im just dying to play in the tlou world again because there’s only one game I can do so in. I dont even think the sequel would necessarily have the same characters, it would be difficult either way

          • To me TLOU was an incredible ride. Masterfully done so, but another run so soon would just dilute it. While I agree that it left me wanting as well, I felt that’s what made it the masterpiece it is.

  • The first two Uncharted games did have supernatural elements to them though. But yeah, it’s probably best to leave it on a high without milking the franchise totally dry.

    • Don’t Activision own the Crash Bandicoot IP these days? Could make it difficult for Naughty Dog to make a new one unless Sony buy it back. I guess Activision might be willing to sell given that they haven’t shown much interest in using it lately.

  • I hope it does end. It was/is a great franchise with an epic story. But a story with an ending (even if its slightly open ended) is alot better than what we’ve been getting recently with big gaming franchises (Assassin’s creed, Halo…)

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