‘Not you, too, Naughty Dog!’
Major spoilers for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Duh. We’re talking about the ending. It’s in the headline. Speaking to Rolling Stone’s new games-focused site Glixel, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann explained how the studio didn’t want to pull a cheap soap opera move in killing off a character for effect.
“I knew we didn’t want to kill Nathan Drake, or kill any of the main characters, because tonally that felt wrong,” Druckmann said. To my mind it was a smart decision to worry about executing a pulp adventure story well, rather than try and morph a pulp adventure story into Last of Us heaviness. Which isn’t to say it’s shallow. Druckmann still addresses interesting subjects, asking if it’s possible to “balance passion versus settling down,” and highlights well drawn inter-personal relationships.
As for the latter, some of them evolved. The flashback where you play as Yung Drake going through the mansion was initially just a cut scene. Which means we would’ve been robbed of polaroid selfies in ancient hats — it would’ve been a shame! Team samurai hat! “We needed to show that Nate, even at a young age, was intrigued by all this stuff,” Druckmann said. “And it was important to show how much Sam cares for Nate.” Like the toy gun attic scene, it was a way to do the Uncharted shtick in a slightly different, thoughtful way.
The old woman in possession of momma Drake’s journals, too, was changed: originally it was a dying old man. Same with the game’s really well-done, touching epilogue. “Initially, in the epilogue, it was Nate’s son,” Druckmann said. “When I’m introducing and describing a new character to our lead character concept artist, constantly she will ask, ‘What if it was a girl?’ And I’m like, Oh, I didn’t think about that. Let me think, does that affect or change anything? No? Cool, that’s different. Yeah, let’s do it.”
These decisions didn’t sit well with everyone, however. One focus tester got so angry over the fact that Nate has a daughter that he had to be asked to leave. There were some, “focus testers who were really upset by Nadine beating up Nate, and really upset at the end when it was Nate’s daughter,” Druckmann said.
“To the point where we had to ask one guy to leave. In his core, it just affected him. He was cursing, ‘Not you, too, Naughty Dog! Goddammit. I guess I’m done withUncharted, if you guys ever make another one, with his daughter. This fucking bullshit.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, why does that matter?’”
Apparently it doesn’t to most people. Uncharted 4 received rave reviews partially on the strength of its story and characters while also selling 2.7 million in its first week despite only being available on PS4.