Uncharted 4 Is Hell On Earth For Younger Siblings

Like every Uncharted fan worth their salt — salt as in moxie, not the mineral of stupidity the kids currently deal in — I played through A Thief's End twice. The first run on Hard was jaw-to-the-floor amazing. The return? Teeth-grinding annoyance.

You'll have to play it twice because you can't access the highest difficulty, Crushing, right off the bat. It's an aptly named challenge, swearfans; the blatantly unfair battles in Act III will trample your self esteem. You'll throw your Dualshock 4 into the floor and punch it into a fine dust. Marketing could have shipped this as Uncharted 4: At Wits' End.

But Crushing wasn't the problem. I love a good skill test (except actual Skill Tester machines, with the claws, they can piss right off). Using sheer brute force and ignorance, I unlocked that trophy, and undid a lot of expensive, post-Dark Souls III therapy sessions. No regrets. I still love this game to death. Buy it.

That said, Naughty Dog managed to tap a dormant rage-well inside of me. Possibly the oldest and deepest one I have as a sufferer of third-child syndrome: younger sibling rivalry.

Thanks to Sony's extensive pre-release material, it's not exactly spoilerish to mention that Sam Drake, Nathan's heretofore unmentioned older bro, reappears for this new adventure. His long absence is explained by a vague hint of having “done hard time for Drake”. The two quickly fall back into the rogue life of robbing pirates of antiquity whilst massacring a small army of their modern day equivalents. So far, so standard.

But here's where jimmies get rustled. Despite Sam being in the slammer for decades, there are a bunch of moments where he displays abilities greater than that of Nathan Drake, seasoned adventurer extraordinaire.

A minor example: in an early infiltration-style mission, Sam challenges you to snag a distant grapple point with Nate's “new” throwing rope. The first time you play, you're pretty unfamiliar with it. You've used it exactly once before, and it went off without a hitch, despite your inexperience. When you try and fail here, you'll most likely shrug your shoulders, and older bro will have his little smirk moment. Lovable wanker that he is.

The first run through, I figured I choked by mistiming the little wind-up mechanic that occurs when the overlarge “L1” prompt appears. Nope. Shit is hard-scripted in there. No matter what you do, Nate goes “ehhh” and that rope flops out like a limp noodle. You suck balls, and the points go to big bro. Cue: small eye-twitch.

Not much later on, it's Sam's turn to have a dig with his rope. “It'd suck if you missed this,” quips Nate. Sam nails the anchor with Batman efficiency and retorts: “I never miss”. Yeah, Sam, because you probably had sooo much time to spend honing your advanced spelunking skills in solitary confinement, you smarmy sack of sh–

I'm sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Bullshit scripted events where you absolutely cannot win, even when armed with prior knowledge. Without spoiling too much (if anything) there are many moments where you and Sam will enter a puzzle room and need to snoop about for a trigger to proceed. Two or three times, I knew EXACTLY which object in the room was the golden switch to success. But, no, the contextual icon wouldn't appear over it, because Naughty Dog wanted me to bumble around on other red herring interaction points until – ta-daaaa – Sam would find the thing and talk a little trash.

Later still, Sam's counsel must be sought because he has a much deeper knowledge of pirate paraphernalia. Plot-twist, you filthy pleb: Sam mentions he's been boning up on history in the apparently Harvard-level library housed within that third-world, urine-soaked hellhole of his. “Nate, I'm honestly surprised you don't know about [insert insanely obscure historical fact]” becomes the regular joke. Cue: lips tightening into a small snarl.

Dude. While you were doing your best to not drop the soap, I found El Dorado and rediscovered Shambhala AND Iram of the Pillars, you shitbird motherf–

…Apologies. I-it's…it's my problem. I'll deal with it.

Maybe you'll feel the same thing as you play through Uncharted 4 when it releases on May 10. Maybe you won't. But I really do think there's a case to be made here for Naughty Dog providing us a means to keep – at minimum – an even score with trollbro. Particularly on the second run that they basically already *know* their biggest fans will undertake.

I get that the Uncharted series has always been a heavily-scripted rollercoaster ride, but it doesn't have to be so in this small facet of the game. ND has already shown a desire to open up player agency in the combat and exploration spaces, thanks to larger “avoid-or-engage-how-you-like” areas. It wouldn't have taken much coding or additional VO to achieve similar latitude in the puzzle and NPC interaction side of things, too.

As it stands, they haven't. It mars the experience a little tiny bit for me; lessens the magic, when you do finally spot those strings that were making you look like a schmuck. Next time, Naughty Dog, don't just add in optional dialogue moments that let me cherry-pick which of Nate's impressive exploits I can mention to his older sibling. Give me the means to really put this firstborn fuckwit in his place. That's some power-fantasy DLC I'd shell out doubloons for.


Comments

    You’ll have to play it twice because you can’t access the highest difficulty, Crushing, right off the bat.

    I didn't read the full article because I'm still playing the game on my first run. But, you actually can play on crushing on the first playthrough. I know this because I currently am.

    While it is greyed out when you go to select it, all you do is select it and hit X which pops up a warning that it will be extremely difficult for those not familiar with the game. Once you hit OK, it is available for selection.

      Yes that is true, it's disable so that it will trigger an alert when you press select.

        Really? Every previous Uncharted used an "unlock after Hard" deal. I saw it greyed out and assumed, because years of conditioning. Bad menu design, ND.

    I actually think that sort of toxic sibling rivalry actually helps flesh out both characters.

    ND has essentially been either living under his brothers shadow or living with the spectre of his ghost for years now. He may not really be in the position to just put one over his brother so easily.

    And Sam has likely been stewing in some kind of mixed self-loathing/resentment for what happened to him for the last 15 years. He certainly isn't going to let any opportunity to get one back on his upstart younger brother slip by.

    And that's fine I think. If ND did manage to get one over him, that would be it.

      That's funny, as an older brother I really related to that low level resentment!

      Frankly, even if a deranged compulsion to stay on top and prove primacy weren't a motivating factor for self-improvement, I don't think it'd make a difference.

      It's an under-acknowledged truth that the birthright of the eldest is a general, non-specific superiority over your siblings in all things (that matter). One which endures to the grave. Younger siblings gotta face it: all the good genes got used up in the first edition run.

      Elder siblings understand this implicitly without the need for any particular evidence, and aren't surprised when some presents itself. The author would probably have an easier time accepting what he sees as some kind of dissonance if he accepted the underlying truth of elder superiority, which explains it all.

    Sounds like a personal problem.

    Kidding! Enjoyable read, luckily my older brother has pretty much sucked at everything compared to me since I was 11... Except maths. Wait, was I in year 12 at 11 /mumbling carry the one.. Brb.

    Sam mentions he’s been boning up on history in the apparently Harvard-level library housed within that third-world, urine-soaked hellhole of his

    Didn't he mention that he was on good terms with a guard who was getting him books from the outside? It's not like he was getting all this stuff from within the prison.

    I played on Crushing first run. Almost finished it. I wont lie, I had to down grade the difficulty in the final section where you fight wave after wave of enemies. Good news though, when you unlock bonuses you only have to complete the chapters not done in crushing in order to get the trophy!

    not the mineral of stupidity the kids currently deal in

    Someone seems a little salty...

    *SPOILERS*
    Dont forget its later revealed that he has actually been out of prison for over 2 years tracking down leads for Averys treasure. So that would account for his knowledge, and could also account for his rope skills if had to do some exploring in that time.

      Did everyone else not play the game or what?

      Sam was always more knowledgeable even as a child. He was giving Sam quizzes when they were robbing the old woman. Sam was the first one to use the rope. He also speaks several languages while Nathan can barely speak a single sentence in Spanish. Nathan also says out out of himself, sully and Sam, Sam was the best pickpocket. Clearly Sam being the oldest was always more experienced and past that down to his little bro.

      @ the actual writer of this post

      You played the game right? then you should know Sam taught Nathan everything. They showed you that when they were kids. He even says at one point when they're in Scotland "I taught you that move" when Nathan gloats about being able to make a jump. Of course he's better, he knows more about history and speaks more languages than Drake also. Did you miss when it was revealed Sam largely influenced Nathans lust for adventure. Heck he's the reason they're named Drake. Infact this explains perfectly why Nathan is way more clumsy with his parkouring than Sam. Sam being away all that time Nathan had to learn most of the rest on his own.

      Last edited 21/05/16 5:27 pm

    You played the game right? then you should know Sam taught Nathan everything. They showed you that when they were kids. He even says at one point when they're in Scotland "I taught you that move" when Drake gloats about being able to make a jump in. Of course he's better, he knows more about history and speaks more languages than Drake also. Did you miss when it was revealed Sam largely influenced Nathans lust for adventure. Infact this explains perfectly why Nathan is way more clumsy with his parkouring than Sam. Sam being away all that time Nathan had to learn most of the rest on his own.

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