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Editorial

Discussion: What Did You Think of Uncharted 4’s Narrative?

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I recently wrote a piece comparing and contrasting Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Quantum Break. While that might not have been an entirely fair comparison, my motive wasn’t to stir up fanboy controversy. I do think it’s a reasonable discussion about two console exclusives, in the same genre, released within a month of each other, and in between accusations of writing “click bait,” there was actually some back and forth about the highs and lows of each game’s narrative. Objectively, that’s really the only aspect where the two games are on a comparable footing, though I did get really tired of Uncharted 4’s climb, shoot, climb recipe, on more than a few occasions.

Cross-console comparisons aside, how does Uncharted 4’s narrative hold up? Personally, I found the whole tone of the game very reminiscent of The Last of Us. With Neil Druckmann taking over the helm, that was bound to happen, and prior to the game’s release I was really excited about it. I consider The Last of Us one of the Top 5 all-time great games, and besides that, I thought Uncharted 3’s narrative was a low for the franchise. Unfortunately, after playing A Thief’s End, I’m not sure I’m entirely a fan of the Druckmann-ization of Uncharted.

Uncharted 4 is without a doubt, the most serious game of the series. Considering the whole concept was a National Treasure/Indiana Jones mash-up, some amount of camp is actually required, and I don’t think there was quite enough of it to be found the finale. That being said, I am a fan of darker, more mature storytelling in games, hence my love of The Last of Us. Despite Uncharted 4’s more serious tone, I don’t think it ever quite found its voice. Pitting your brother, Sam up against your wife, Elena is a great set up, but the game doesn’t do the work to make you really invested in either of the supporting characters.

It’s somewhat understandable that since Elena is a returning character, that most of the screen time would be given to Sam as an introduction. The problem is that by doing that the narrative becomes awfully one dimensional. It’s two brothers against the world, until everyone else comes to their senses and decides to help the pair out. Apparently, Elena is cool with a husband who lies to her and abandons her, and just decides that she better hop back on the Nathan Drake train because he’s so awesome. She chastises him a bit once they’re reunited, but for the most part, she’s just a generic companion. Sam’s treatment really isn’t much better.

Uncharted 4, A Thief’s End, video game

Going back to The Last of Us, what made that story so memorable was how authentic it was. Throughout the game, you actually experience the growth of the unlikely relationship between Joel and Ellie. In the beginning you’re forced to endure the same loss that Joel experiences, and his resulting amorality is understandable. Once Ellie is dumped in his lap Joel isn’t instantly transformed. It’s only through their shared experiences that he comes to care for and love Ellie. That journey is what’s absent in A Thief’s End. Though the trailers try to show something different, Nathan Drake is really the same person at the end of the game that he was at the beginning.

Before you say it, yes, they’re two different games, and Uncharted 4 is not supposed to be The Last of Us 2. That being the case, why does A Thief’s End try to be more serious than it is? I like James Bond movies. I also really loved Blade Runner, but I really don’t want those Bond movies to try to be more like the dystopian Blade Runner. Likewise, I’m not sure I wanted Uncharted 4 to try so hard to be The Last of Us, because if that was the goal, it failed miserably.

On the whole, I found Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End narrative much better than Drake’s Deception, but not quite as good as Among Thieves. Regardless, it’s still a pretty good finale and a PlayStation 4 essential.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What do you think? 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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