Fair warning for ye who entered the treacherous terrains of this article, here be spoilers for the ending of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. If you have not completed the game’s story-mode to its end credits yet, then read no further and if you haven’t and are continuing to read on anyways do not say you were not warned, as we are about to dive into the highs and lows and the biggest fear of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End…the ending.
Alright, now that we have our disclaimer out of the way its time to talk about that so called “perfect” ending that’s being praised all throughout the internet as the world continues to kiss Naughty Dog’s butt for pooping out storytelling gold. Now, I love Naughty Dog. They are my favorite developer studio and are responsible for some of my best childhood gaming memories such as Jak and Daxter, but it doesn’t mean that they are without fault or that I can’t feel uneasy about some of their creative choices they took in regards to how they closed out the Uncharted series. The ending in a series, whether it be a game, movie or book format, is the most important and difficult aspect of the entire series overall. If the bow being tied up at the end isn’t perfect in the complete sense of the word, then you’re not only going to receive a lot of backlash from pissed off fans, but everything the story did right thus far will be tarnished.
Landing an ending on the storybook tarmac is no easy feat; it’s easy to go too big and make things overwhelming and catastrophic in a vain attempt to make a series remembered as being the one with “that epic ending.” We all know that the only person who has a snowball’s chance in hell in creating such an ending to a healthy epic series is George R.R Martian (not to put anymore pressure on the guy than there already is) and as great as Naughty Dog is at spinning tales, they would not be able to pull off a large scale ending of that size that has crippled so many stories before it. The Ending of Uncharted 4 was a reflection of the overall series to date, its not about the destination, its about the journey to the destination and Uncharted 4 had expertly nailed that journey not once but twice.
There are essentially two endings to Nathan Drake’s tale, the first of which arrives after the final swash-buckling boss fight that I so desperately craved as I crept closer to the end. After Nat and his long lost brother Sam escape the wreckage of the late Captain Avery’s ship we transition to our band of crooks and thieves saying their final goodbyes to one another on the docks, ensuring the audience that there is no way that these three characters will ever appear together or on the front cover of a new Uncharted game ever again, because in the words of Nathan Drake, “as thrilling as the next adventure might be, in the end your always left with that same feeling,” that feeling being, emptiness. A perfect metaphor to explain on-going series and sequels in general; how often do we witness once great series run themselves into the ground faster than an old timey train jumping off its tracks due to its creators wanting to cash in on yet another sequel or a one last go entry. Creating a series is a slippery slop if you don’t know what your doing or if you are creating a new addition to the story for the sake of withdrawing cash from wallets, based on nothing except the established name of the series.
When Sully and Sam watched Nate and Elena drive off, closing the book on their cart moving, buddy wall-boosting adventures, a scary thought slipped into the back of my mind. “Sony owns Uncharted and they can do whatever they want. But at the end of this story, it will be really hard to do a sequel with Nathan Drake,” said Neil Druckmann, who has also gone on record saying this was the last adventure for Nathan Drake numerous times throughout Uncharted 4’s development. With companies being the way they are about their hit franchises, however, it’s unlikely that Sony will just let Uncharted fade away into non-existence or turn around and say something along the lines of “Uncharted 4 ended the series in such a wonderful way that most films and TV shows could only dream of and we feel that Naughty Dog has closed the book on this chapter of their careers. We look forward to seeing what they come up with next instead of demanding an unnecessary fifth entry to the series.” Leading to one of my two fears with Uncharted 4’s ending sequence.
The way that Sully and Sam leave the docks is troubling and endearing. I enjoy the thought of Sam and Sully going off on their own adventures and Sam having the life he missed with his brother with his old pal Victor. I also enjoy the thought of the two settling their differences and becoming closer friends throughout each adventure and those hopes and dreams for these two characters were reflected in the epilogue through a letter found on the kitchen table. A lot of time has passed between the two of them leaving the docks together and the epilogue that takes place between 12-16 years later, though. The gap in time creates a hole where new games and stories featuring Sam Drake could be created and as much as I liked the idea of Sam and Sully going on adventures of their own together, I really don’t want to play through a Sam Drake trilogy.
Then there is the biggest fear of all: Cassie Drake. It is unclear if the creation of this character was to serve the storybook ending to Nate and Elaina’s story or to create a new character in which they could build off of in case Sony calls up the studio and demands a new series of Uncharted games. During the epilogue sequence there is a lot of side objects that the player could choose to interact with or ignore if they pleased, but one item in particular is placed so that there is no way the player could progress to the ending without missing it, as it hides the keys to trigger the ending to the epilogue under its flimsy pages. That’s right I’m talking about the cheesy, Adventure Life magazine that hides the keys to Nate’s locked dresser holding all of his collectables from past adventures. The magazine features Cassie holding a relic and a tag-line reading “Treasure Hunting: RUNS IN THE FAMILY.”
I truly hope that Cassie’s creation wasn’t a setup for potential Uncharted spin-off sequels as we already have a Tomb Raider and we don’t need Cassie Drake running around trying to compete with Lara Croft turning Uncharted into a Tomb Raider clone. Plus, I also feel like this would just be taking the same route that “The Mummy” movie franchise did when its two love birds had a child who also liked treasure hunting. The very thought of the idea is cringeworthy for both a Sam and Sully spin-off and a Cassie Drake spin-off. Can we please just let a great series fade off into the sunset for once without dragging it out kicking and screaming for the sake of cashing in on a new sequel and tarnishing everything the series and its creators have achieved thus far please? If not at lest create a brand new character who is unattached from the original series characters entirely.