Uncharted 4 Dev Explains Why It's Moving on From the Series

"This will be our fourth Uncharted game. These games are hard to make."

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Naughty Dog has shed more light on why it plans for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End to be the final game it developers in the acclaimed action series (but not necessarily the last game in the franchise). Lead game designer Robert Cogburn said there are a number of reasons, one of which is that keeping the game "grounded" would prove to be especially challenging.

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"This will be our fourth Uncharted game," Cogburn told Kotaku. "These games are hard to make. Particularly with a character like Nathan Drake in a world that's fairly grounded, it's a challenge to consider how much more we can expand the universe while adhering to those sorts of rules."

There are also mechanical considerations, Cogburn said, which may be no different from what other developers face with their own games.

"This is gonna be the fourth time we start answering stuff like, 'How do we make hand-grabs visible? What do we do to scale the combat experience? What are the interesting puzzles we can be introducing in the moment-to-moment as the player's experiencing this narrative?'" he said. "That's not to say the questions will be the same in games we make going forward, but as a studio we grow tired of answering those same types of questions in the same fiction. It's gonna be fun for us to really embark on new ideas and start fleshing those out [in a new series]."

Cogburn went on to say that The Last of Us--which featured decidedly different gameplay dynamics than Uncharted--proved to Naughty Dog that it was capable of successfully expanding to new areas.

Uncharted 4 is not only the final game in the series that Naughty Dog plans to develop, but also the last one that will feature series star Nathan Drake in the lead role. So what's next for the series? Cogburn said Naughty Dog "definitely had brainstorms" about an Uncharted game set in space, but stressed that's unlikely to actually happen.

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Previously, Uncharted 4 lead writer Josh Scherr said it's "hard to imagine" the series moving forward without Drake in the lead role.

Uncharted is a tentpole Sony franchise; sales have been strong with more than 21 million copies sold to date and a movie is even in development. Another game seems likely, even if it doesn't star Drake. As for who might take over for Naughty Dog and Drake if there is to be an Uncharted 5, that remains to be seen.

Speaking last month about life after Uncharted, Naughty Dog community strategist Arne Meyer said the studio had "at least" one more (but possibly as many as three) games in the works for the current console generation.

In September, Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann said a prototype for The Last of Us 2 was made, but the sequel is not currently in development at the studio. Later that month, PlayStation boss Shuhei Yoshida said Naughty Dog is also working on "some experiments," presumably outside of the Uncharted and The Last of Us franchises.

On the subject of bringing Drake's story to a close in Uncharted 4, here's what co-director Neil Druckmann told GameSpot back in June:

"The first three games were the set-up, and if we were to do one more, how would we top it all off? How would we bring Nathan Drake's journey to a close? Everything we're doing [with Uncharted 4] is constructed towards that: bringing closure to a very long journey."

Uncharted 4 launches in March 2016 for PlayStation 4. The game's multiplayer beta, however, is available now for people who bought The Nathan Drake Collection.

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