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Can Uncharted 4 Live Up to The Hype?

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For many PlayStation 4 owners, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been one of the most anticipated games for Sony’s latest home video game console. The Naughty Dog franchise is a PlayStation cornerstone and a guaranteed E3 press conference feature, but has been delayed quite a few times raising some concerns. The latest title has been delayed three times despite a beta test earlier this year. On the other hand, Sony has kept expectations high and even though it’s not the focus of this website or editorial, the multi-player beta seems to have been a hit with gamers as well as the gaming press.

Before I get too far into this, I must confess that I didn’t like Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception quite as much as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I will admit the third chapter was visually breathtaking and one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen, in either 2D or 3D. I just felt like the whole formula was a bit tired, with too much reliance on quick-time events, and the story wasn’t quite as compelling as its predecessor. That being said, there is absolutely no way that I’m going to miss Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

According to the developer, Uncharted 4 will take place several years after Nathan Drake’s last adventure. Now married, the retired fortune hunter is of course pulled back in when his brother, Sam, resurfaces. While A Thief’s End is guaranteed to be an action-packed, globe-trotting treasure hunt, Nathan Drake’s family ties and other relationships will likely make it a much more personal tale. It’s this kind of character depth in the narrative that makes Naughty Dog’s new franchise, The Last of Us, such a beloved game.

Uncharted 4, A Thief’s End, video game

One thing the last Uncharted game did do was explore Nathan Drake’s early years. Hopefully, this will have some effect on how the narrative for the new game plays out. Along those lines, Creative Director Neil Druckman, also The Last of Us’ creative director, did imply in an interview with Game Informer that things that happen early in your life tend to linger with you. The piece actually goes pretty far into Drake’s inner conflicts and how his outward facade isn’t necessarily who he is on the inside. All of that indicates something we haven’t seen before in the series.

What’s also new to Uncharted is the addition of dialogue choices. While this mechanic is unlikely to have the same impact it does in games from Bioware or even TellTale, it does show that Naughty Dog is concerned with giving players greater agency and investment in Nathan Drake. As I mentioned before, the series does have a new creative director, and there is a justifiable concern that Uncharted 4 very well might have a much darker tone than its predecessors. While I’d personally appreciate a more impactful narrative, I can understand why others wouldn’t. Though I seriously doubt it will be dark enough to garner an M rating from the ESRB.

Of course a game like Uncharted isn’t all about the narrative. Each of the preceding games have been mechanically sound even if they aren’t exactly groundbreaking. With Uncharted 4, some real effort has been put into the game mechanics and AI – for both companions and enemies. In another Game Informer piece, it was revealed that Drake’s animations have been completely overhauled, and that his climbing motions alone use more memory than his entire moveset from Uncharted 3. As for the AI, companions have always played a big role in the series and this time around, Naughty Dog promises they will be pretty competent on their own. The enemy AI roles have also been drastically expanded. After playing the beta, I’m pretty impressed with how the actual gameplay works.

Uncharted 4, A Thief’s End, video game

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will mark the end of the Uncharted series and with new direction is likely to end on slightly different tone than how it all started. Depending on your expectations, that can be either a good or bad thing. As I mentioned before, I found Uncharted 3 to be a little flat, so I welcome a more mature narrative, though I’m sure at least a portion of the game’s audience will feel otherwise. I was also really impressed by the gameplay mechanics, especially the combat, in the multiplayer beta, and expect that aspect of the game to be pretty solid on the PlayStation 4. If nothing else, the sheer amount of effort put into improving that aspect of the game is enough to inspire confidence in the final result.  Uncharted is, without a doubt, an essential PlayStation title, and there’s really almost no reason to skip the finale.

With Uncharted 4’s release right around the corner, the most likely flaw is in the execution of the narrative, but I’ve seen enough to be confident that the series’ finale will be its best chapter yet.

What do you think? What would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook where you can also sound off your opinions.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Writer, musician, and indie game developer in the Land of Enchantment.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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