Uncharted's 9 Best Moments Ever
By Matt Espineli on
The Finest Set Pieces
A major highlight of the Uncharted games has always been it's amazing set pieces. From chasing a caravan on horseback across the Rub' al Khali desert to climbing out of a train car hanging off the edge of a snowy cliff, Naughty Dog has captivated us countless times with an assortment of iconic, breathtaking moments.
Got a favorite Uncharted set piece that you don't see here? Come share them with us in the comments below. And be sure to check out our Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End review.
9. A German U-Boat in the Jungle--Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
The German U-Boat at the edge of a waterfall in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a fundamental stepping-stone that establishes the series' sense of scale. Viewing it from afar, you can't help but be taken aback by the ancient vessel, as you ponder how it even ended up there in the first place. But none of that matters, what's important is the fact you're going to explore it. When you do, you discover dead Nazis, more intrigue, and--unfortunately--a still-active torpedo. The resulting escape and explosion made us feel wonder and awe at the excitement of it all; the first of many moments that made us feel this way in the Uncharted series.
8. The Cargo Plane--Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
As Uncharted fans know, Drake has a penchant for getting himself wrapped up in sticky situations. A moment that captures his terrible luck is the cargo plane set piece from Uncharted 3. It begins with what seems like a stealth sequence through a duct, but it soon spirals out of control, nearly throwing Drake out of the plane. The sequence that follows grows from bad to worse, as a resulting firefight wrecks the plane and causes it to plummet to the ground. The pacing here is tight, carrying the action from one misfortune to the next at a breakneck speed. And once it's over, you'll ask, "How can things possibly get worse?"
As the excitement behind the recent events wanes, you realize as Drake hangs off the cargo net that there's nothing but open desert surrounding him. Everywhere you look: hills of scorching, white-hot sand as far as the eye can see. Drake's lost, and more importantly, he's screwed.
7. Drake vs. Tank--Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
This set piece sequence fulfills its namesake, throwing you into a tense battle of cat and mouse with a heavily armored tank. Similar to Resident Evil 3's Nemesis, the tank is relentless and it stops at nothing to pursue you. The action here is top-notch, constantly throwing you in and out of firefights as you sprint to get out of the tank's line of sight. And right when you think you've eluded the tank, it finds a way to get to you by crashing through a wall or blowing up your cover. As you stand there about to panic, you probably can't help but recall Drake's initial comment: "Why would he bring a tank?" For this amazing set piece, that's why.
6. Brawl at the Pub--Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Compared to other set pieces in the series, the pub fight during the opening moments of Uncharted 3 is scaled down. It doesn't feature Drake escaping a crumbling building or navigating a towering structure. Instead, it has him and Sully exchanging blows with a group of thugs in an old-fashioned bar brawl. It's a straightforward sequence made rich with a wealth of unique environmental attack animations, most of which you wouldn't know existed until replaying it. Attention to detail rings true in this scene, which is why we love it so much.
5. Waking Up in the Tibetan Village--Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
After surviving the war torn streets of Nepal and escaping from a derailed train, the stroll through the small village in Tibet feels well deserved. Compared to other set pieces, it's quiet, tranquil, and soothing. Despite serving as a bridge to the campaign's latter half, the time spent walking through and interacting with the villagers brings a welcome change of pace. You can shake hands with a farmer, pass a soccer ball over to a couple kids, or pet the local livestock. None of these actions are mandatory, but they are small details that coalesce into a heartwarming moment just as memorable as any of the game's bigger set pieces.
4. Young Drake at the Colombian Museum--Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
In the first two entries of the series, Drake's backstory is always made ambiguous. While those games contain dialogue that reveal small details concerning his past, there's never any explicit scenes showing more. At least, not until Uncharted 3 where there's a flashback with a 15-year old Nathan Drake plotting to steal Francis Drake's ring. This moment is a crowd-pleaser of the highest order, providing a brief glimpse of not only a younger Drake, but how the treasure hunter met Sully.
3. Hotel Nepal--Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The moment Drake sets foot in Nepal is when Uncharted 2 starts to ramp up. The action in this area escalates wildly, as it throws you across the city's war torn streets and ravaged apartment buildings. There's an army of soldiers to fight and a deadly helicopter looms menacingly above, threatening to unleash a barrage of bullets upon you. But the real standout moment is when a hotel you're in starts to crumble in the middle of a firefight. Furniture and office supplies slide and scatter about the room as the whole place starts to come down. Thankfully, a window in the neighboring building is there for you to jump through to safety. The chaos of this scene is only one of many fantastic set pieces in Nepal, but it's one that we still discuss to this day.
2. The Sinking Boat--Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
It isn't often that you get to escape a sinking cruise ship in a game, but Uncharted 3 lets you do just that. The action in this set piece is tremendous, pushing you through sideways corridors as the cruise ship begins to flood with water. It's enough having to take on an army of soldiers, but to have to do so in such an unstable environment creates an incredible sense of tension. This set piece is the film Poseidon come alive in a video game, and it's by far one of the most exciting situations Drake has been thrown into.
1.The Train--Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
No other set piece in the series can replicate the shock and awe of seeing Drake awaken in a train car hanging off a cliff. The disorientation of the initial shot, the desperate climb up the train car that follows, and the road to how Drake got into that mess to begin with is nothing short of brilliant. While it's technically a glorified climbing sequence, the way in which it's framed gives us context of the scale that Uncharted 2 provides. Seeing Drake battered and bruised instantly pulls us in, as the immediate danger in front of us makes it clear the high stakes of the situation. After all these years, it still gives us chills just thinking about it.