On December 6th, our Game Director, Bruce Straley, kicked off the Playstation Experience by playing Uncharted 4: A Thief's End live for fifteen minutes.
The reaction online seems generally positive. Although it definitely left people scratching their heads, wondering why the stage demo didn't have any signature "Uncharted" bombast.
We very deliberately avoided showcasing the spectacle people are used to seeing from Uncharted, and instead decided to share how the fundamental gameplay in Uncharted 4 is stronger than it has ever been. We're making a serious effort to let players flow between traversal, gunplay, and brawling with an unprecedented level of fidelity.
As a Technical Designer working on Uncharted 4's brawling, I was lucky enough to work on some of the high-action moments showcased on stage. I'd like to point out a few fun ideas that are easy to overlook your first time watching.
Nathan Drake reacts to nearby enemies to project his options. He will tense up If an enemy is close but unreachable. He will prepare to strike if an enemy is close enough to take out.
Any time you finish an enemy with brawling, in stealth or otherwise, Nate will decide if he should automatically steal the enemy's weapon. This happens if Nate is unarmed or out of bullets.
Those extra seconds player get back into action without worrying about inventory management. Also, it feels really cool.
Brawling is more aware of gameplay context than any previous Uncharted game. If you are jumping or falling towards an enemy, it be comes an opportunity to pounce. if you are near a wall, characters will slam each other against it
An enemy can fight back against an aggressive player, so he's not just a punching bag. If he happens to be near a wall when he counters a punch, he will use it.
In this instance, I placed a magnet in the trickle of water, which tells the characters "if somebody is going to get slammed into a wall nearby, do it right here because it will look cooler." It worked.
It has been a lot of fun to see how naturally some ideas and mechanics stack up on each other to create interesting situations. Giving love to the transitions between brawling, traversal, and gunplay is definitely paying off.
This is moment that a lot of people online have been talking about. What's awesome is it basically designed itself.
The rope is a versatile traversal tool that lets the player move around the environment in new ways. But a jump is a jump, and any jump or fall is an opportunity for Nate to pounce onto an enemy. So rope swing transitioning into the falling take-down is a given.
A falling take-down is a brawling finisher just like any other, and Nathan drake has no rifle right now. So if you add the weapon-steal logic from above, of course Nate will steal the enemy's assault rifle.
On top of that is a more experimental piece of logic. Nathan drake just did something spectacularly badass, so he gets some free lock-on as a reward. There's a lot of ideas on how this reward can expand into other actions, but there are also some tricky questions that come with this.
That last sentence really sums up the whole design process for Uncharted 4. We have tons of great ideas, but there are lots of questions to answer to get those ideas working. Thankfully the team at Naughty Dog is up for the challenge.