Honestly, I’m not sure why I never got into the Uncharted series before the coronavirus quarantine. I’d always notice when one was released and think to myself, “I should give that series a shot, it looks fun” and then just never find the motivation to actually, you know, buy it. But now that the lockdown is in place, I have run out of excuses -- what with Sony offering both the Uncharted Collection (remasters of the first three games) as well as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for free. And, just like every time I die in-game, I know I should have pulled the trigger sooner.
The Uncharted series follows the adventures of one Nathan Drake, a globe-trotting, treasure-hunting rapscallion voiced by Nolan North (though you’d swear it was Nathan Fillion.) Drake is the descendant of famed English explorer Sir Francis Drake and a modern day Indiana Jones. Well, not exactly like Dr. Jones. Nathan spends more of his time taking priceless artifacts out of museums than putting them back in. Despite the dubious legality of his profession, Nathan Drake is very much the hero. And in these frightening and uncertain times, it’s reassuring to know exactly who the good guys are.
The mechanics of Uncharted are generally what I’ve come to expect from an action/adventure title like Assassin’s Creed series, Horizon Zero Dawn, or Star Wars: Fallen Order. The linear nature of Uncharted’s gameplay is a welcome relief. The utter lack of a map function, forcing players to rely on their own instincts to navigate treacherous terrain, seems especially apt for our current world order.
This quarantine has left me incredibly overwhelmed and anxious — so if you give me an open world map to explore right now, like in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or HZD, I’m going to end up wasting my time puttering around on sidequests and searching for secrets, with nothing but a few achievement baubles to show for it. But with this game, there’s always a goal; somewhere to go, some switch to activate, some baddie to shoot. Unlike our real lives, there’s forever a light at the end of the tunnel in Uncharted.
What’s more, these games act as a window onto the world for me. While I’ve been staring at the same set of walls for the past however many weeks, Drake has the freedom to hop from the steamy jungles of Borneo to secret South Pacific Nazi bases in the blink of an eye. One minute he’s infiltrating the National Gallery of Turkey, the next he’s fighting car to car on a train plowing through the mountains of Nepal. He gets to fight zombies and abominable snowmen. I have a cat that generally ignores me.
The only time Nathan Drake is wearing a face mask is when he’s keeping the sand out of his mouth while adventuring in the Sahara. He’s constantly surrounded by people, none of whom are in any way practicing social distancing. He even shakes hands. Oh I am so envious.