Naughty Dog gave us a totally new adventure game experience with the first Uncharted game. Since then, the series has developed into a multi-story epic about treasure-hunter Nathan Drake. But the Uncharted series was most notable for pushing the boundaries of cinematic style and storytelling, elevating the entire adventure genre. Whether it be gunfights with hired thugs or solving an intricate puzzle room, the Uncharted series gave us hours of nonstop action. Here’s our ranking of the five best games in the main canon of the Uncharted series.
5) Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
The first Uncharted game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, introduced us to characters and a world with an intriguing narrative that had never really been explored as in-depth in the adventure genre, which definitely deserves points. In his first adventure, Nathan embarks on a quest to find El Dorado. However, the game has not aged as well in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Looking back on it, players can recognize that its graphics and gameplay seem outdated, but if anything, that just goes to show the lengths the game series has improved over the years. Its primary development of our main characters — Nathan, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, and Elena Fisher — was strong enough to build an entire franchise upon. Its introduction of a multi-tier gameplay, like its third-person action sequences and puzzle-solving, gave players a dynamic experience in the first part of Nathan Drake’s epic story.
4) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
The penultimate game of Nathan’s chronicles, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, was a noble submission to the series. The storyline brought Nathan full-circle, embarking on a mission related to his ancestor, notable explorer Sir Francis Drake, and the legendary Atlantis of the Sands. It included a host of revelations, time jumps, and plot twists that made the story intriguing, albeit sometimes confusing.
With this venture into the Middle East, we get to see another entirely different world than the previous two games — which is always exciting — and some pretty heart-pumping scenes. The scope of this immense desert environment is a testament to the grandeur of Naughty Dog’s world-building, which we should definitely appreciate. But its feel is nothing new or revolutionary in the Uncharted universe.
3) Uncharted: Lost Legacy
The latest incarnation of the game, Uncharted: Lost Legacy makes Uncharted history as the first game without a Nathan-centric storyline. You definitely feel his absence in the game, but it introduces a duo team-up that we didn’t know we needed: Nate’s ally and former lover, Chloe Frazer and ex-mercenary Nadine Ross.
Just when you think the game’s quality could not get any better, Naughty Dog goes ahead and exceed expectations with more realistic facial animation and beautiful environmental backdrops. The story is packaged very neatly without it seeming too drawn out or unnecessary, and it really focuses on a new side of these Uncharted heroines that we never really got to know before.
2) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
At first glance, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s narrative set-up is nothing new, but its story dives deeper than any of its predecessors. On the search for Henry Avery‘s lost pirate treasure, the villain is more developed, the puzzles are more intricate, and the action is even more intensified. With today’s amazing graphics rendering and modern motion-capture capabilities, it’s hard to believe that these characters aren’t real people.
The story really takes the chance to develop the characters by delving into the pasts and futures of the characters. It explores the idea of family, whether it be between Nathan and his long-lost older brother, Sam Drake, or between Nathan and his new family (Sully, Elena, and Cassie Drake). Overall, it serves as an excellent and satisfying conclusion to the series and provides a massive pay-off for the series’ die-hard fans.
1) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a refreshing entry following the success of the first Uncharted game. It can be easy to make a subpar sequel, but Uncharted 2 explores a completely different, but equally as adventurous environment in Nathan’s search for Shambhala and the mystical Tree of Life. The game begins with a totally adrenaline-pumping scene and one of the series’ most famous moments as we see Nathan Drake clinging to a crashed train over a cliff. Its graphics were much improved from the first game (and very much ahead of its time), and its environmental details were kicked-up-a-notch.
Most importantly, Uncharted 2 was able to pull off a feat that most games have frequent trouble with: a seamless transition from single-player mode to multiplayer gameplay that was equally, if not more, entertaining to play. Uncharted 2 may not seem like the peak of all of the series’ games, but its ability to take the game to new heights on its second go makes it worthy of our top spot.