Welcome, dear readers, to a new PlayStation Lifestyle Original Series. In “Celebrating a Series,” we plan to explore the PlayStation library in a way that looks to the future, rather than the past. Each new feature will focus on a PlayStation property, new or old, and explore what could come next. From obvious sequels to hopeful revivals, our goal is to have some fun, gush a little, and get a little brain exercise in. Of course, you can’t kick this thing off with something weird. (I know you’re all eager to know how one of us envisions Jumping Flash 4.) Instead, we’re starting from the arguable top, with the property that helped revive the PlayStation 3: Uncharted.
Uncharted is useful for our purposes here, because not only is it massively popular and one of PlayStation’s top brands today, but it also recently, well, ended. Uncharted 4 put a definitive pin in the Nathan Drake saga, ending his career as a scrappy treasure hunter and cementing his status as a family man. However, we all know that while Nathan Drake’s story has been told, that Uncharted label is a franchise now. It isn’t going anywhere. So if we are to see Uncharted 5, and we totally will, what would we want to see? I can’t speak for any of you, but I have a few ideas.
It’s Time to Start Over
Depending on who you’re talking to, some feel like Uncharted has run its course in a number of ways. The main story is over. There’s an argument to be had that players can only throw so many grappling hooks and climb so many blinking, fake platforming challenges before the rose-tinted glasses start to crack. By my estimation, whatever the next Uncharted happens to be, it’s going to be an excellent opportunity to breathe some new life into it, before it can start to really get stale.
People love their extended universes, so it probably wouldn’t be wise to scorch the Earth entirely. But why not move on from the Drakes? Sure, Sam is out there going on adventures with Sully still and Cassie was introduced (so many people jumped on Cassie as a potential new protagonist), but how deep could either of those wells go? There’s too much risk of “more of this again, I guess” if we jump back into the Drake clan, even if the player avatar looks different. It would be hard to move those characters’ motivations away from Nathan effectively, and the last thing we need is old man Nathan being presented as the next Kratos or something.
Let’s introduce a new character. Let’s introduce a new supporting cast. Some new gameplay mechanics would be rad, especially if we can borrow a little from other titles such as Tomb Raider or Marvel’s Spider-Man, when it comes to things like puzzles, pass/fail challenges, and interesting gameplay that still has that movie magic feel. No more blinking rock-climbing walls, please.
If you go for “new,” you can also go for new kinds of perspectives. What if Uncharted comes back, but this time we’re playing as someone who isn’t a treasure hunter of some sort? Perhaps you could actually play as someone who lives near these epic ruins and wants to stop these jerkface “explorers” from breaking everything and stealing stuff. A new angle could be a really great chance for Naughty Dog to flex its in-house writing talent.
Okay, Fine, Here’s a Sequel Pitch Too
Maybe we can’t move away from the established brand characters. Nathan Drake has to stay, even if we can’t play as him. You can’t get rid of old men in video games, after all. (Just look at Gears of War and Tekken.) They outlive everyone.
Cassie as the new lead is the telegraphed option. After all, the idea that she could be the next “Drake” doesn’t just come from her presence. The ending of Uncharted 4 sets up her interest in the family business to a degree. So fine, let’s take a look at the possibilities there. Let’s say PSLS Editor in Chief Chandler Wood can’t review Uncharted 5 for some reason, possibly because the deadline presents a conflict with a new Destiny content drop. It comes to me, and Cassie is on the cover, back turned, pistol in hand, shirt half-tucked. Here’s what I would hope to see, and what I hope to, well, not see.
First of all, if we’re going to do the direct sequel, we’re going to do it right. Nobody dies. Hell, even Sully is still kicking somehow, albeit with a diminished role. Really, this would be a great opportunity to have a big, single player game without dead family members as a motivational force. With that out of the way, Cassie does need some sort of motivation, a reason to be the protagonist in the first place. “Because Drake” isn’t good enough, and veering on the edge of tragedy porn didn’t exactly work out for Tomb Raider. That said, what if Cassie is a somewhat reluctant hero?
In the rebooted Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft is shipwrecked on a LOST-like island and ends up tangled in an elaborate and extremely boring global conspiracy plot. I’m not suggesting that by any means, but Cassie could be a good chance to find a new path for this kind of character and introduce some fun shenanigans along the way. Basically, what if Uncharted, but a little more grounded? What if Tomb Raider, but less gritty?
For starters, Cassie doesn’t have an easy motivation to be a treasure hunter. Nathan did it out of necessity, growing up the way he did. Now, the Drakes are pretty well off, with Nathan’s salvage business and Elena ostensibly getting back into TV. Cassie doesn’t need to risk her life and get mixed up with all the violence like her folks did. But she’s still obviously as adventurous as her parents, so maybe she’s a professional thrill-seeker and into skydiving, base jumping, caving, the works. All of these things involve extensive travel and provide plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong.
From there, Cassie could be thrust into a position in which she’s reacting to something. Maybe she encounters an old grudge from her dad’s past, which could feed into that legacy aspect and even drag Nathan into an active role in the story. Perhaps there’s a natural disaster of some sort, or she accidentally stumbled upon a treasure with a supernatural gatekeeper. Once that hook is established, Cassie can be in a situation that feeds into the familiar Uncharted structure, but with that motivational twist. She can still be wise-cracky, nigh-indestructible, and even a sociopathic murder machine like her pops. All this, without dead parents or the outdated Indiana Jones thing kicking it off.
Okay, that’s enough Uncharted fan fiction for now. I’m just riffing here, based on my own tastes in storytelling and how I feel about Uncharted continuing past the end of the story it already told.
Do we need an Uncharted 5? Probably not. Do we want one? I know plenty PlayStation fans would probably, figuratively die without one. Are we getting one? One hundred percent. So if I’m playing a new Uncharted, that’s all what I would like to see over some other possibilities.
What do you all think? Do you want Uncharted 5? Do we need to jump on that Mister Mosquito 3 pitch? Let us know in the comments.