by Kelvin Wells II
Anyone who knows me knows that the Uncharted series houses some of my favorite games of all time. Uncharted 2 was the first game in the series I played and from the very first sequence of the campaign I fell in love with it. That plucky action movie vibe was perfect; it was the type of thing I used to dream about as a kid. I ended up beating Uncharted 2 seven times from 2009-2011. No other game captured my imagination that perfectly… that is until Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception rolled out. With it’s darker themes and its glimpse into the origins of the titular hero, Drake’s Deception made me fall in love all over again. As you might have guessed, I reacted accordingly when Uncharted 4 was announced (I flipped my shit!).
In this sequel heavy age of gaming, it might not seem so surprising that a sequel to a highly successful franchise would get greenlit, but Naughty Dog is not known to carry over their franchises from last gen to the current gen, Crash Bandicoot and the Jak series serve as examples (The Crash series did make its way to PS2 but that was after the rights were sold to Activision from Sony and Eurocom took over development). Also just the thought of what the studio could do with the PS4’s hardware got me pumped. Last of Us was one of the best looking games of the seventh console generation and it was running on hardware from 2006, so I salivated at all the possibilities. Though as time went on, my hopes for the game began to falter.
The worry began at the beginning of 2014 when it was revealed that the series’ writer/creative director Amy Henning had left the studio to work on Visceral Games’ new Star Wars game (which I’m super excited for by the way). With Henning being such a huge part of the game, it hurt that she was gone and I started to grow suspicious that maybe their was a negative reason behind her departure. Her and Naughty Dog later stated that the departure was on amicable terms and it was announced soon after that Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the team behind the Last of Us, would be taking over as the game’s directors. This established a bit of faith, but I continue to be skeptical that the characters I fell in love with will remain themselves.
Soon after this, actor Todd Stashwick, left the project and had his role as Nate’s brother Sam recast. On top of that the game got delayed from a November 2015 release date to a shiny new March 18th, 2016 one. And with news of Drake voice actor Nolan North just now finishing his motion capture, it makes me all the more worried that something might be seriously wrong with the game. Personally, I have faith that the game will turn out just fine given their solid track record and the gameplay they’ve shown off. Of course that good faith didn’t last long (I mean look at the title of the article).
Last Week, during Sony’s Paris Games Week conference (which was pretty dope btw) Uncharted 4 multiplayer was unveiled for the first time, and it looked pretty good. Past games feature the typical third-person shooter style multiplayer, all with the added traversal from the single player. Nothing revolutionary but fun nonetheless. This time around though, the studio looks to be embracing the series’ supernatural themes and using it in a way that’s fun and services the gameplay. It looks as though the multiplayer would feel less tacked on than the previous iterations did (though they were still fun).
But then I read about those micro-transactions….
Let me be clear, I don’t have a problems with micro-transactions when used correctly, such as a free-to-play game that offers paid progression as well as in-game progression. But a $60 game really?!
And it’s already been said that these micro-transactions can be used for weapons, tools, and upgrades. This means if I want to buy the game and unlock all the best gear from the get go I can do that. This punishes the players that don’t buy the micro-transactions by making them feel under powered unless they buy the upgrades and weapons or grind till kingdom come in order to catch up. Need an example of this? Check out NBA 2k16 in which players are maxing out their player stats on day one with micro-transactions making online matches completely unbalanced. It’s like Kwame Brown playing one on one against Jordan, but I digress.
Look, if you want to spend money on gestures and skins for characters, be my guest. But once player progression gets fucked with, I draw the line. It personally hurts that a studio with so many of my precious memories such as Naughty Dog is participating in something like this, but that doesn’t mean they get a pass! If I gave you my $60, keep your damn hands off my wallet.
I’m getting hotter than Childish Gambino’s last mixtape so I’ll wrap it up (<—- unintentional pun). To be 100% transparent I’m gonna buy Uncharted 4 no doubt about it, but I’ll be DAMNED if I pay for those micro-transactions. Vote with your wallet.