Four Things I Want From Uncharted 4
With spoilers for the first three games, this is what I want from Uncharted 4. Please note that this is purely speculative!
I Don't Want Uncharted: The Last Of Us
The biggest thing I want from Uncharted 4 is it not to try to be The Last Of Us. When Amy Hennig - who oversaw the first three Uncharted games - left Naughty Dog, and Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley took over, it looked like a great fit. They were incredibly successful with The Last Of Us, which is hailed by many as one of the greatest video games of all time, so who better in the studio to take up the reins. However, one of my slight concerns is that, after Last Of Us, they'll simply slip back into that mould again, trying to make something that says "Hey - we're the guys that made that incredible game" not "Hey - this is our final Uncharted: we want to go out with a bang".
Of course, being very intelligent people who are part of a wider team on the top of their game, I'm sure this won't happen, but I think there is the scope for it to do so, and I really don't want it to. This week the news that they're removing Doughnut Drake from the multiplayer to make the game feel more mature perhaps contributes to that worry somewhat. I hope that maturity (whatever that means) doesn't flow into the story and detract from the usual craziness of the Uncharted games. Although, apparently the removal of the character skin was something of an afterthought - so perhaps there is no link there at all.
A new character in Uncharted 4 is Nate's brother, Sam - played by Troy Baker. My theory is that Sam turns out to be a bad guy, akin to Harry Flynn in Uncharted 2, but - in this case - Sam is the main antagonist, not just a henchman to a Lazarevic-esque figure. In this theory, fighting Sam is the main boss battle that ends the game. What I don't want is for Sam's to be the main death of the game. I think it's fairly obvious that one of the characters is going to die. but - unless Naughty Dog works some serious magic - I can't see myself caring enough about Sam to be affected at all if it's him.
So, who instead? I think the most interesting would be Elena, simply to see how Nate would react and what he would do: could her death persuade him to kill his own flesh and blood (assuming Sam is the final boss)? That said, I would love to see the final, albeit very cliche, moment of them happily ever after together.
In theory, a more likely person to bite the dust would be Sully - a character who continually manages to evade death by the skin of his teeth. While this would be something of a safe option, I think - for similar reasons as Elena - it would be interesting to see what his real death did to Nate, especially considering his reactions to the fake ones of the previous three games.
If Naughty Dog wanted to live up to the title "A Thief's End" and ensure no other studio could mess with their legacy, they could kill Nate. While I don't think this is particularly likely, it is a possibility and could actually be done in a really interesting way (it would also subscribe to the idea of a "divisive" ending which was teased recently). If I was doing it, at the 3/4 mark in the game Sam would kill Nate. The screen goes to black (it'd be cool if it was actually like an in-game death, with the weird noise and cries of "Noooo, Nate!!") then fades back, some time in the future. You're now playing as Sully, Elena (or maybe Chloe?) as the whole gang from all three games try to avenge his death.
Not only could that be a great avenue to bring back some other characters like Chloe and Cutter, but seeing them all work together would be awesome. But, it doesn't end there. After the final boss (who we're still assuming is Sam), the team celebrate and travel back to wherever, and Nate appears - thoroughly alive, saying that Sam had to be killed, he couldn't do it, and the only way it could be done was all of them working together (Naughty Dog could probably find a better explanation than that, but we'll go with it for now). So, it was a thief's end....but then he came back. I think that would be a great way to have the emotion of Nate dying, but also get the happily ever after moment that I so desperately want.
I Don't Want A Telltale Game
Let me clarify that: what I mean is that I don't want the player choices we were shown at PSX to become too big a part of the overall game. One thought that did occur to me was that, perhaps, the ending being divisive has something of a more hidden meaning. Perhaps it's divisive in that things can go one of several ways, dividing the player base. On Podcast Beyond last week, the guys discussed the ability to choose who dies at the end. As they said, I think that would be atrocious. Not only do I want a set-in-stone ending to the series, I, frankly, don't want to have to make that decision!
I Don't Want It To Be 12 Hours Of An Ending
Something I hate about last episodes of TV shows, or last movies, or anything like that is that they become so aware that it's an ending. It has a knock on effect that everything in the episode/movie feels like the last time we're seeing something: I don't want the whole game to play like that.
What I always think for those kind of TV show-endings is that I wish it was just played out like a normal episode. We've enjoyed them for long enough, and a solid one of those seems like a great way to end something awesome. That said, of course I want the final part of the game to be a truly definitive ending: I just don't want the feeling that it's all over from the very beginning.