Without question one of the most influential and important franchises ever – Uncharted has come to define a generation of action-adventure games. Best of all for Sony fans – it was all theirs to enjoy. Naughty Dog’s epic tale of Nathan Drake has spanned five games thus far – and we figured we’d try our best to rate them from best to worst. Now to be clear – there isn’t a bad Uncharted game – but everyone has an opinion on what makes the best Uncharted experience.
So to celebrate the arrival of the first non-Drake focused Uncharted outing, let us take a stab at ranking the five Uncharted games – best to worst!
5. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita, 2012)
When Sony unveiled the PlayStation VIta – they went out of their way to underline just how similar to the PlayStation console experience the device would be. Ultimately, The effort can’t be faulted but the delivery was less than stellar. With development handled by Sony Blend rather than Naughty Dog, the game comes across like an imitator to the Uncharted throne rather than a fully fleshed out member of the series.
The writing feels clunky while the PS Vita struggles and strains to get the game running in a smooth manner. The games shift in focus to a more action orientated footing underlines the tonal issues that exist between this and the rest of the series – with some poorly thought out adventuring padding between the shoot-outs. To be clear – Golden Abyss is very much a solid game but when compared to its console brothers, it comes up exceptionally short and its limitations can’t be hidden.
4. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3, 2007)
Back at launch, this title was something else. Visually stunning and broad in its appeal – the game stood apart from the crowd of Tomb Raiders and action-adventure games that hadn’t quite managed to create a truly cinematic experience.
Whether you were climbing a ledge, swinging between ropes or just marveling at the scope of the world created – there’s a lot to love with Uncharted. Yet for all this praise the game was littered with minor niggles that show the games age. Poor shooting sections, clunky controls and a sense that the level design for the series hadn’t quite been perfected yet – the game being overly generous in giving directions. It was clear right from the off Naughty Dog were onto something special – but it wouldn’t be until the sequel that they perfected the formula.
But this games influence can still be very much felt throughout the industry. Heck, it had to be liked because there are so many Uncharted games that have arrived in its wake.
3. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3, 2011)
Uncharted 3 took the huge success of the second game and built very much on its foundations. The result is a game that feels similar but lacks any of the progressive feelings that made that game feel so fun. Instead, the focus here is on Drake’s back story – adding a spotlight onto the Sully and Nathan relationship.
For me, the reliance on over the top set-pieces became slightly cumbersome in this outing, the game going out of its way to draw attention to its action credentials. Worse still some of them feel like they were slotted in to distract from the inconsistent pacing during some of the plot. Yet it’s the tightening of the mechanics, the scratching of Drake’s past and the way that the story weaves its threads together that ultimately leaves this game feeling just as fun as the other major outings. Certainly, it’s the most cinematic of the PlayStation 3 games.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4, 2016)
Uncharted 4 manages to land the series closing arc in a much more satisfying way than Uncharted 3 ever did. The game doubles down on Nathan’s final major adventure with a sense of grand spectacle – with graphics that make a strong play for being the best on any console ever.
Alongside this was a story that was mature but filled to the brim with charm, wit and a sense of closure that makes proceedings feel interesting. Every plot point feels important and thanks to Naughty Dog’s experimenting – the series feels more open during game play than ever before. I also greatly appreciated the game toning back on grand set-pieces; making them feel special and worth waiting for rather than throwing them out with abandon.
Overall Uncharted 4 is arguably the best finale the main series could have wanted – with an ending that does it justice and a story that’s balanced perfectly with the series best game play. Easily recommended.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3, 2009)
Taking the flaws of the original game, Uncharted 2 managed to work most of them out into a story that feels as fun and energetic as anything else offered up the series.
This isn’t to say the game didn’t have flaws – poor stealth sections and still clunky action really hampered some of the games finer moments. But it’s here where the balance between action and adventure was married most skillfully by Naughty Dog. Tying things together was a plot that felt every bit as well-balanced as epic adventure novels.
The pacing is on point and the major set-pieces feel important to proceedings – something that later games would get slightly out whack. At the end of the discussion, this game is the best Uncharted experience for me because it took what made the series so great – it’s characters – and threw them into an adventure that was every bit as whimsical and fun as it should have been.
For me, Uncharted 2 is the definitive Uncharted experience.