Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception First Look

We watch as Naughty Dog drops Nathan Drake in even bigger trouble in the third entry of the Uncharted series.

One of the shining stars in the PlayStation 3's stable of exclusive franchises is the Uncharted series from Naughty Dog. The games have offered a modern, playable twist on the heroic adventuring of such classic action films as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the adventure serials that inspired it. While the original Uncharted was a solid debut for the series, Uncharted 2 was a masterpiece that cemented the franchise as one of the highlights of the PlayStation library this generation. Given the franchise's popularity so far, it's no surprise that Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception would be announced. However, what is pleasantly surprising is that Naughty Dog isn't taking a predictable route in creating Nathan Drake's latest adventure. We had the opportunity to chat with some members of the team at a recent press event that gave us a look at roughly 10 minutes of gameplay from the sequel, which is already looking fantastic.

When we last left Nathan Drake, the rough-around-the-edges adventurer had defeated his nemesis Zoran Lazarevic, rescued his lady friend Chloe, gotten a smooch saving her life, and enjoyed a lush sunset in the Himalayas. For most people, that would be the perfect cue to settle down someplace and reflect on past adventures. But, as fans of the series know, Nathan is most definitely not "most people." Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception finds Nathan and his mentor Sully on a new adventure tied to Sir Frances Drake's circumnavigation of the globe; an archaeologist by the name of T.E. Lawrence who history (and film) buffs will know as Lawrence of Arabia; and the legend of a lost city in the desert known as The Atlantis of the Sands.

Although Uncharted 3's announcement trailer showed Nathan making his way across a desert, the game will still have an international scope to its adventuring. The scorching locale Nathan and Sully were shown in was the Rub'al Khali in the Arabian Peninsula, which is one of the world's largest sand deserts. The game's story will send the two explorers all around the world to piece together the clues needed to locate the mysterious city that legends say was struck down by the gods. As always, the journey is chock-full of peril from both the treacherous environments Nate and Sully find themselves in, as well as the members of a mysterious clandestine organization that Naughty Dog noted will be the biggest threat the pair have ever encountered. While the Naughty Dog crew didn't offer up much more on the specifics of the game's story, it's worth noting a few seemingly minor details. First off, the game takes place roughly a year or so since the events seen in Uncharted 2. Secondly, while the game's primary focus is on Nate, Sully and their relationship, fans can expect to see old and new characters in the mix. Finally, the game's desert endgame setting was chosen as much for its rich story potential as its gameplay possibilities within a sandy environment, which offered a distinctly different environment from the previous games in the series.

The development team's desire to challenge itself with the game's setting extended directly to Uncharted 3's gameplay, which features a host of refinements to the game's core mechanics, many of which were influenced by fan feedback. The enhancements to the game fall into three basic areas: exploration, connection to the environment, and hand-to-hand combat. The exploration mechanics in the game have been expanded by refining the way players will move Nate around an environment. You'll be able to climb and jump backward from a hand hold, as well as use cover and shoot will climbing walls or a balance beam. The team has also put time into little touches that tie Nate into the environment in subtle ways. Keen-eyed players will notice the characters will touch parts of the environment as they make their way through it. In addition, players will notice smoother animation, courtesy of new contextual animation blends that aim to make Nathan's movement more fluid. Finally, the hand-to-hand combat options are being ratcheted up on a number of fronts. Generally speaking, combat will feature a bar-brawl-style approach that will have Nate facing off against multiple targets that you can switch between. Melee attacks will again feature a contextual component to them that will have Nate improvising with whatever he has handy. Finally, Nate's stealth options are being beefed up to include takedowns that can be initiated while dropping down from a perch. Separate from the gameplay that's specific to Nate, the desert setting will also feature unique gameplay tied to the properties of sand, which include sandstorms, mirages, and heat haze, to name just a few.

Things start familiarly enough…

Not all of these gameplay enhancements were on display in the short but impressive gameplay demo we were shown, but there was still more than enough to get our attention. To underscore the game's international scale, the demo took place early on in the game at a dilapidated chateau in France where Nate and Sully were on the hunt for clues left behind by Lawrence. The pair hopes to piece together the location of the lost city by following Lawrence's trail. But, as their luck would have it, they're not actually a step ahead of their enemies--they're a step behind. The demo kicked off with the pair discovering thugs were setting the chateau on fire and attempting to escape. Unfortunately, the massive, rundown chateau ended up being a deadly obstacle course that offered no easy exit. While this spelled impending doom for the heroic pair, it was a fantastic showcase for the thrill ride the game is aiming to offer.

As in previous games, Sully shadows Nate most of the time as he tries to find an escape route. The search for an exit became increasingly complicated as the fire began to spread through the already-crumbling chateau, cutting off seemingly safe paths and kicking up smoke and flames to obscure Nate's vision. On top of that, the fire-starting thugs were on hand to plug Nate with bullets. The new gameplay elements appeared to blend in seamlessly with Nate's standard set of moves from the previous games as he crawled, shot, and fought his way through the chateau. The action delivered on the cinematic thrill moments as huge chunks of the chateau caved in or shifted as Nate made his way to different potential escape routes. We were especially impressed by how smoothly the heart-stopping cinematics of a collapsing roof or floor would cut into the action just long enough to get you to jump without interrupting the flow of gameplay. The downside to this was a very clear buildup of bad luck for the pair that climaxed with the duo clinging for dear life to a chunk of the chateau that appeared to be clearly falling into the fiery bowels of the burning structure. The demo cut out just before the two met their fiery end and raised the question "How are they getting out of this one?"

While the demo's primary focus was to showcase Uncharted 3's gameplay, it also offered a dazzling sampling of the game's visuals. The game may be quite a ways from release, but we were impressed by how stunning it is already. The old chateau and the plant life that had grown through it sported an incredible amount of detail that looked great, but once the fire started, things got bumped up a notch. The fire and particle effects were fantastic, and once things got going, they were downright unsettling. The animation was looking sharp, with all the little touches around Nate's movement giving him a polished motion that we liked a lot. The game's voice--a key element to its storytelling--was in fine form as well, thanks to Nolan North and Richard McGonagle giving Nate and Sully life.

…but soon go rapidly downhill.

The Uncharted series looks to be taking some assured strides as it heads into its third adventure. Naughty Dog is obviously excited about the work it is doing, and it clearly showed in the demo. We're excited to see more of the single-player game and find out more about the multiplayer upgrades the team teased in its presentation. We have to say it stung a little to hear that there's still no cooperative gameplay in the story mode, but if Naughty Dog amps up the competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes significantly in Uncharted 3, we'll get over no story mode co-op. Our taste of UC3 has us hungering for more in a big way, especially a look at the game running in stereoscopic 3D, and counting the months until its November release. Look for much more on Uncharted 3 in the months to come.

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Discussion

365 comments
aaronfhff123
aaronfhff123

@VivaLaChuckness thats BS, a game showing slightly more realistic violence would make the game only even more a cinematic experience. Ever Play Red Dead Redemption? Ever watch Face/Off?

VivaLaChuckness
VivaLaChuckness

@aaronfhff123 If Uncharted 3 was rated M, that would mean that Uncharted would lose a lot of its fan base, because of the fact that lots of 13-year-olds play the uncharted games. Plus, it would turn into a violent shooter instead of a Cinematic experience.

vini16f
vini16f

this is the main reason why i'm buyinh a ps3, followed by GoW 3, and MGS4, and Heavy Rain and so on

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

@jasonzilla11 Let's talk about Command and Conquer 4 and how EA ruined the franchise! :D

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

I really really hope that they'd outdone themselves. I mean Uncharted 2 was I thought to be the peak of the series and I can't imagine how they can beat that. Can't wait for November!

eliebaz911
eliebaz911

Definitely the best, uncharted 2 was pure amazingness, with a great story and great action, a dynamic duo that you dont see in much of these new games but Uncharted goes above and beyond any other game

Malky956
Malky956

Uncharted 2 was amazing and this sounds like it will be even better - I will defo be getting this when it comes out!!!

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

Uncharted 2 was beast. so much awesome in 1 game

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

Sheesh, why do everyone comment someting about cod and activision and how it sucks and yadada. Shut up about other games and focus about THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

02050muh
02050muh

n hope they dun milk this series like activision milking the cod title. it get sucks everytime (dats why cod:bo didn't won anything)

02050muh
02050muh

hope they improve the nearly perfect action-pack, epic storyline from the last uncharted series

Rome_212
Rome_212

I'm definitely getting this one! Uncharted games get better each time, the second one was just mind blowing. Now this? This is gonna be good, oh man I'm so excited!

aaronfhff123
aaronfhff123

I hope this one is rated m and you can paint bodies red with bullets. The other uncharted games seemed so fake when it came to dumping clips into an enemy.

privateguy
privateguy

Its gotta be good if its UNCHARTED!!! :D

Nerkle01
Nerkle01

@Terminator95, Everyone that thumbed down what you said is just jeleous that a game series so good is ONLY on the PS3. No need to be a fanboy. Enjoy the game for what it is regardless of what system it's on.

jad206
jad206

@g5naim I have no idea what we are even talking about, but since you called me wrong, I must say that you are, indeed, the wrong one.

lauriedunsire
lauriedunsire

Absoloutely love the Uncharted series, and this looks set to enhance it even further. It's great to get a game that isn't simply great enjoyment gameplay wise and visually stunning, but also provides engrossing storylines and wonderful characters - especially our main protagonist. Nathan Drake's personality and relationships with the other characters really give the game an extra edge, and sometimes it feels like you're enjoying the narrative of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I like what I'm seeing and hearing about the third installment, only negative is how long I'm gonna have to wait for it! :-(

nickery123
nickery123

wow looks fantastic already, just goes to show that naughty dog get their games done right

ash162
ash162

damn the graphics look great already!! can't wait to see the finished product

ash162
ash162

damn the graphics look great already!! can't wait to see the finished product

flames121
flames121

I really hope they do like 20 uncharted games :P haha it's scripted as hell but sooo satisfying !

JLGamer96
JLGamer96

This game is going to BE SO BEAST!!!! i hope online is a little better though but this is totally going to be 2011 game of the year. :D cant wait to get my hands on it

indzman
indzman

Goty 2011 Uncharted 3 : Drakes Deception :D :)

BigBigR
BigBigR

LOL. Almost everyone here has 1 negative vote. There's always a hater mad at pure awesomeness. Haters gonna hate, but UC3 gonna GOTY.

homeyc
homeyc

How can so much bad sh*t happen to one guy?

gog3ta08
gog3ta08

Definately getting!!!! First day preorder for me!!!

antsaround
antsaround

Looks like another good game to look forward to... Thank You Naughty Dog :D

daniel_droid
daniel_droid

omg just heard of new halo series comeing then this! best gamespot trip EVER!

powerglove100
powerglove100

I hope elenas in it and drake and elena get married!

yrsu
yrsu

he's kind of a lousy shot very hectic and dramatic

Superlegtesta
Superlegtesta

I like how they put a little "arabic" touch to the music.

milan4554
milan4554

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

kwanzudood
kwanzudood

Uncharted 3 = Drake's gonna get with 3 chicks this time around. We've got the blond nice girl, the British brunette with bad-girl motif and accent, who's next? An Asian chick or a hot ebony chick like Sheva from RE5 would do nicely.

kwanzudood
kwanzudood

Uncharted 2 is a lot better than other year's Games of the Year. This was a seriously refreshing franchise for any game system, hope it continues for a long time.

Scar-face123
Scar-face123

OMG I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS I AM A HUGE UNCHARTED FAN, THIS IS NEXT YEAR"S GOTY!!!!!!!!!

sfkm2
sfkm2

Sweet! Sully is in. Alright. Where's Chloe!? Bring her back!

bmarcus420
bmarcus420

I smell another GAME OF THE YEAR!!!

gunshin82
gunshin82

Argh!!! I want it yesterday!!!

jeffreee
jeffreee

Looks BORING. As in console-boring. Fine if your 14....otherwise...

ahpuck
ahpuck

@fangtooth27 I'm 99.99% sure Elena is going to be back, how can she not be? I'm not so sure about Chloe, tho'. Hopefully she will make a cameo.