Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is arguably the PlayStation 4’s biggest single player exclusive to date. Likewise, Remedy’s Quantum Break for Microsoft’s Xbox One has been a highly anticipated game since its announcement just prior to the 2013 E3 Expo. While there have been other solo adventures exclusive to both systems, the two games have had the full weight of the console builders behind their development and have been touted as flagships. Of course, the Uncharted series has previously performed that role, while Quantum Break is a completely new intellectual property.
Truthfully, I’ve eagerly looked forward to both of these games. I’ve long been a fan of the Uncharted series, and I consider Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us easily one of my Top 5 games ever. I am also a fan of Remedy Entertainment’s action adventure games. The first Max Payne game was revolutionary in its storytelling at the time, and the Alan Wake games are adventure game staples. Unfortunately, Microsoft did a pretty poor job announcing what kind of game Quantum Break would be in their E3 press conference, and that fact undoubtedly mitigated some its appeal. Despite that, it was probably the Xbox One exclusive I was looking forward to the most.
Strangely, the two games dropped only a month apart, and if Uncharted 4 was able to make its previous date, they would have been released even closer to each other. Luckily, I’ve been able to make the time to play both to completion, though I just barely finished Uncharted 4 prior to starting this piece. Overall, I enjoyed both games and, truthfully, I’m a little sad that there isn’t anything similar on the release calendar for awhile. I do have high hopes for the upcoming Mirror’s Edge reboot, and Deus Ex will hopefully be out at the end of August.
I did say that I liked both games, so let me start off with that. I’m also not going to get into technical details like native resolution and frame rates. As flagship entries, they are well optimized for their respective systems. Both Uncharted 4 and Quantum Break are also highly cinematic games, and are narratively dense. As fan of heavy narratives, I obviously view that as a positive. Of course, the flipside to that is that the two games are pretty much on the rails. Their areas are fairly large though, and do allow for some exploration, more so in Uncharted 4, and overall, Uncharted is the bigger game, both in gameplay area and in playthrough length.
Circling back to the narrative, both games have remarkable voicework with an expert cast, though in Quantum Break you do get see the actual actors in the live action video sequences. Uncharted on the other hand uses a more standard, video game formula, relying exclusively on 3D models and motion capture. Except for the couple of occasions with dialogue choices, it also borrows heavily from The Last of Us’ conversation notifications. Quantum Break’s live action sequences mean that you’ll be sitting there watching for extended periods of time, and with Uncharted, at least a portion of the dialogue is optional.
If that was all there was to the narrative, Uncharted 4 would probably be my preference, but it’s not. In Quantum Break, there are actual choices to make. Those choices alter both the video sequences and the gameplay for the upcoming sections of the game. In contrast, while playing as Nathan Drake, there are only a couple of conversations where you can choose a reply, but they don’t change anything in the game except for how that particular conversation plays out. Unfortunately, Quantum Break’s supplemental narrative items don’t support the overall story quite as well as Uncharted’s.
It’s important to note, Quantum Break is only about half as long as Uncharted 4, and while both games include quite a bit of shooting along with some platforming, A Thief’s End offers a significantly larger variety of gameplay. That gameplay is also much more polished in Naughty Dog’s game too. Quantum Break’s cover system leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, there were quite a few times I felt that Uncharted’s wall climbing sequences were overly frequent and too long. I would have also preferred more puzzles and a little more complexity too them, but to be fair, Quantum Break has no puzzles.
All in all, I have to say that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a better game than Quantum Break. That being said, I really enjoyed the latter’s story more. With its theoretical physics, branching storylines, and alternating point of views, Quantum Break’s narrative is unforgettable. It’s not that Nathan Drake’s final chapter isn’t interesting. It really is. My problem with it is really somewhat ironic. As much as I love The Last of Us, Neil Druckman’s stamp on the series causes a sort of schizophrenia in the storytelling, adding weight disproportionately throughout the tale. For me, this made aspects of the game somewhat boring even though, on the whole, I still enjoyed the experience.
Again, these are both great games, and if you own the systems, I can’t help but recommend the pair of them.
The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.
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