Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is PS4 Essential

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. Sony

When Uncharted 4 was delayed from 4Q 2015 to early 2016, most PS4 owners shed a tear. Arguably the most anticipated game in the history of the next-gen console would have to wait. How would we survive? What would we play this holiday season? Let’s be honest—we’re all getting a little tired of the seasonal domination of Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, which places a whole lot of weight on Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront to provide the gaming fix we need this year.

Perhaps we can fill the time with three classic games from Sony in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, which assembles remastered versions of Uncharted: Drake’s FortuneUncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, with access to the beta of Uncharted 4 coming soon. It is a stunning reminder of what Naughty Dog accomplished with this trilogy, one of the most cinematic and essential trio of games in the history of the form. If you haven’t played them, you have simply run out of excuses. If you have, they are all worth playing again. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last week, playing through the majority of Fortune and Deception, while revisiting the first few hours of Thieves. Each game is better than the one that came before. 

It Started with a Treasure Map

2007’s Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a PS3 launch game, released to usher in the next generation of Sony domination, and it really laid the groundwork for what we could expect from Sony exclusives. With echoes of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, and standard FPS shooters, Uncharted felt like a thinking man's action game. It contained a stunning blend of puzzle-solving to offset its surprisingly non-stop action. Playing it again, 8 years later, I was struck by that latter part. There’s more shooting in Drake’s Fortune than I remembered and less of the sense of exploration and adventure that would characterize the next two chapters. It’s still a strikingly good game. You’d be hard-pressed to find another 2007 game that could be ported as easily to this generation. ​Drake’s Fortune also introduced us to characters and dynamics of the Uncharted series that we would love, including Nathan Drake and his mentor/partner Sully.

If You Lay Down with Thieves...

Two years later, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves took the foundation of Drake’s Fortune and built on it perfectly, amplifying the former game’s strengths and minimizing its weaknesses. In many ways, it’s a perfect sequel in that it doesn’t redefine what we loved about that first game but uses the new tools of the PS3 to refine the franchise. From the very opening scene, in which Drake is climbing a train hanging off a snowy cliff—which then intercuts in a non-linear fashion back in time; something relatively daring 2009—Among Thieves is an artistic success.

The Best Was Yet to Come

And yet it pales next to Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, my pick for the best game of 2011, and one of the best games of the ‘10s so far. Drake’s Deception is like playing a Hollywood blockbuster, from its massive set-pieces to its engrossing narrative and characters. And it looks absolutely amazing on the PS4. Here’s the blunt truth: If Drakes’ Deception had JUST been released on the PS4 for the first time on any console, it would be in the conversation for the 2015 Game of the Year. It’s that good. And that replayable. So while I still hate the fact that I have to wait another 5 months to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s EndUncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection helps lessen the pain by reminding us how great this series is and likely will be again.