After the lukewarm reception that met the overwhelmingly successful Uncharted franchise’s debut on PlayStation Vita, I am calling for a new hero to take over for Nathan Drake in future iterations of the series on Sony’s powerful handheld.

There is no denying that Sony has discovered a gold mine in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise. Since Drake’s Fortune was unleashed into the wild in 2007 the series has gone on to become one of the star jewels in PlayStation’s catalog; spawning multiple sequels, a card-game spin-off, and even an assortment of comics. The Uncharted series has become one of the industry’s most beloved franchises, and its protagonist Nathan Drake has become an idol along with it. With his sense of humor and charm, “Drake” has quickly become equally as iconic as the series he stars in, despite the Uncharted series having a bevy of interesting and like-able characters.

5

Since Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, both the series and its hero seemed nearly untouchable, as the pair began to take over the PlayStation in tandem. In fact it was due to having more momentum than a rolling boulder that the Uncharted series was chosen to take on its largest challenge yet – becoming the flagship title for the PlayStation Vita’s launch. When Uncharted: Golden Abyss was announced, fans all over the world were stuck with awe when the game made its debut at E3 2011, going on to win best mobile game at Germany’s Gamescom in the following weeks after the Expo. Despite the early applause something quite strange occurred when players and critics managed to get their hands on the game in February 2012, it was met with an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

Critics and fans from around the world seemed to have appreciated the technical achievement that Golden Abyss was, but it never seemed to be quite enough. Many stated that due to being developed by Bend Studios the game lost some of the magic injected into previous titles by creators Naughty Dog, and that the experience felt like a scaled down attempt when compared to its console counterparts. Perhaps it was the feverish anticipation or unrealistic expectations, but the game never seemed to appease the public despite being an unbelievable experience on a mobile platform.

UnchartedGoldenAbyss_Hero

While it is understandable that many had higher hopes for Golden Abyss, it is a stretch to call it a bad game. When judged on its own merits as a game made for a portable (albeit powerful) device, the game was (and continues to be) both a technical marvel and a truly enjoyable experience. One might consider that a sequel to the early portable offering may prove more fruitful, but it may fall unto a far worse fate when one considers the future.

Naughty Dog may have left the Jak & Daxter series behind them after the jump to PlayStation 3, and they very well may do the same with Uncharted moving forward into the PlayStation 4, but make no mistake that the house that Nathan Drake built will continue on. When Uncharted does manage to finally make the jump to next-gen the future of the franchise on PlayStation Vita becomes even more uncertain and likely much more controversial. If the sentiment was that Golden Abyss could not live up to its heritage, how will its successor manage to step out of an even larger shadow? The answer is simple; by handing another character the spotlight.

Where Golden Abyss fell short in my opinion was that it sought to tell a smaller and more personal tale, whereas the public have been accustomed to the adventures of Nathan Drake being larger than life. By swapping the lead character on PlayStation Vita entries Sony would not only be able to escape comparisons to the technically superior releases it is bound to be compared to, but also it would open the door do a host of new possibilities for the franchise.

02_concepts

While it is absolutely true that “Drake” is indeed the star of the series, Naughty Dog and Bend Studios have done a fantastic job of surrounding him with a cast of characters that are as capable, and like-able as Nathan himself. Whether it be Victor Sullivan, Elena Fisher, Chloe Frazer, Rika Raja, Charlie Cutter, or Marissa Chase; it’s clear that if Sony decided to choose a new protagonist they would be spoiled for choice.

Though earlier I may have mentioned many possible characters, I have to mention that the Uncharted series has represented women remarkably well considering the “action movie” aesthetic the games are known for. Female characters can be as charismatic and often more capable than Nathan Drake himself, a fact made even more impressive by the fact that they are portrayed in a realistically diverse manner.

rsz_11

It is not an unprecedented idea as Ubisoft attempted a very similar endeavor recently when they released Assassins Creed III: Liberation as a companion to the console edition of the title. The game starred the first female assassin in the series Aveline de Grandpré, and differed largely from is console counterpart. Admittedly the game was met with a mediocre reception, but the issues rarely stemmed from the bold choice of character.

Often the complaints were due to the ambitious nature of the title trying to maintain the scope and feel of its brethren, and failing due to the limitations of the hardware. In fact, since the game’s release nearly a year ago Aveline has long endured the game of which she made her debut and is even set to appear in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag via three exclusive missions only on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Though Liberation itself may have failed on technical merits, the bold choice to push forward and explore new stories in the Assassin’s Creed universe has proved fruitful for both PlayStation and Ubisoft moving forward.

rsz_nathan-drake

I’m deeply aware that the mere suggestion of removing an iconic character from a revered franchise will likely be met with a substantial amount of push back, I offer my opinions based on my love of Uncharted as a franchise. I love the characters and world that both Naughty Dog and Bend Studios have crafted and don’t want to watch it become stale as it attempts to repeat one note on a variety of instruments.

Uncharted is a game built around the thrill of traversing exotic locales and braving danger in the search of undiscovered treasure, and that is exactly the sentiment that I am echoing. Let Nathan Drake rest up for his next big adventure and sit out future entries on the PlayStation Vita in the name of exploring the unknown; which is what Uncharted is all about.

  • El Casual

    Nice article. I really hope that Sony dont let die Uncharted on Vita.
    But what is doing Bend Studios??? Bend Studios are good, Gbe Resistance gam on PSP was a really good game. I pray for more games of Bend Studios in Vita. Maybe a Siphon Filter??

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Bend is apparently working on something, but nobody is quite sure what. They’ve been quiet recently.

    • fatdog21

      I doubt its Syphon Filter. Even though its an awesome series it never was on a big hit on psp or ps2…

  • KuchikiSentou

    I don’t think the VITA needs another Uncharted. It may just not be the same without Drake.

    Dare I say an Infamous game could do with a different character. It’s consistent with the universe; but I don’t think Uncharted has that luxury.

    • fatdog21

      I agree. Uncharted GA was great n sold very well( 1million units) the never live up to what makes uncharted uncharted & personaly i dnt think u can do that on the vita.
      I would love to see a imfamous vita game. Something like that is more suited for vita (to me atleast). Well there is that rumor of one being made…..

    • Shanedioneda

      i know this is late, but you got proved wrong with inFamous

  • André Rocha

    Good article, very nice read there.

    When I first saw the U:GA announcement the first thing that came to mind was “finally Sully will fly ‘solo'” and I actually expected that from my heart, not what happened. Still I love the game, it’s a good game but I still have hopes for an Uncharted game with Sully as main character and the Vita would be a perfect place for it.

  • Kyle Wakeling

    Personally, if you’re going to replace Drake as the protagonist I’d love to see him move into Sully’s role as the mentor to a new generation.

    Picture this; a slightly aged Drake muttering something along the lines of “Back in my day, we used to actually hunt for treasure Kid.”

    Hell, I can almost hear him saying it to some smart-ass youngster already.

    • ExcaliburEdge

      I like this idea, almost a batman beyond-ish take on uncharted. The student has become the master!

  • ExcaliburEdge

    It wouldn’t be a bad thing to have an uncharted game with a different protagonist. If they do it, they should still keep Drake in the plot somehow. Maybe a short appearance and plot tie-in like Connor in AC: Liberation.

  • Elvick

    I think you are vastly overstating the “disappointment” the fans feel toward this game. I’ve seen plenty of people that love it and understand it’s few flaws, but accept them and move on from it to enjoy and praise the game for what it is.

    Took me a billion years to load this damn site to read something so pointless.

    If they did a different protagonist, it may as well be a new IP. Be EXACTLY like asking for a Tomb Raider without Lara Croft. Why bother calling it Tomb Raider then?

    • Brian Sharon

      I think that you are projecting your feelings onto the masses. Despite what you or I may feel about the game, it wasn’t nearly the success that Sony had planned it to be.

      As for the site, I apologize for the issues. We are trying to sort them at this very moment.

      As for your question, I will answer it with a question of my own. What is an Infamous game without Cole Macgrath?

  • APA

    Actually, Sully as the protagonist, would be awesome, IMO, In fact, I always thought he didn’t have enought time on the screen… 😛 He has too much charisma, so he could be perfect.

    • Topless Stang

      Doing this would be great. It could be done in prequel fashion expanding on the story beats from Uncharted 3 that could detail Sully training Nate or the time Sully spent in his own adventures prior to meeting Nathan.

  • Shanedioneda

    Lukewarm reception? It has an 80 on metacritic, it’s one of the best selling vita games, the best looking vita game, holds up against the console version (i think it’s better than the first one), and it’s arguably the best Vita game.

    And no way would there not be an uncharted game without Drake, go ahead and take Indiana Jones out of Indiana Jones and expect it to do well.

    I wish they’d get another Uncharted vita game to go along with Uncharted 4 like they did with 3, though i assume Sony Bend has their own project.

  • Kevin

    Uncharted Golden Abyss actually had good reception. The reviews were far from calling lukewarm.

  • Konohana Lucia

    just needs more Uncharted games