Cover image of the game "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End" showing Nathan Drake the protagonist

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End


I had my opinions about the Uncharted series in the past. Recently, I grabbed Uncharted 4 in a Steam Sale, because I have never played it. The last couple of days (I have holidays right now!), I was playing through the story of Uncharted 4 and I have to admit, it is a damn good story! Archaeologically speaking though… Well, we all know what to expect right?

The Uncharted Series

I wrote about the Uncharted series in the past and summarized it as “break in, steal, destroy, repeat”. The Uncharted series tells the story around Nathan Drake, a treasure-hunter par excellence, who is mainly discovering the past of good old pirate Sir Francis Drake (in fact a buccaneer, vice admiral of the British navy and a circumnavigator). The games, formerly only available for the Playstation, feature action-packed stories and a Hollywood-style narrative.

I analysed Uncharted 3 in my dissertation, although Nathan Drake is by far not an archaeologist. In any case he is kind of a representative of Archaeology in popular media as he behaves in the same manner as Indiana Jones, in fact very similar. I am therefore very interested in the representation of the Uncharted series as these games are very popular.

Uncharted 4

Screenshot of the game "Uncharted 4: A thief's End" showing Nathan in his jeep about to drive down a hill into a city on Madagaskar.
Screenshot of the game “Uncharted 4: A thief’s End” | © Naughty Dog

So here is a spoiler-free summary: Nathan needs to find a treasure and this time of Henry Avery, a real English pirate. He is as always in a race against time to find the treasure before others do and to achieve his goal, he is doing what he does best: break in, steal and destroy. The story takes you from a prison in Panama to Scotland, Madagaskar and finally to the pirate utopia of Libertalia.

I do not want to tell more as discovering the story is part of the fun in this game. Rest assured, nothing really survives after Nathan shows up and I can’t even begin talking about how to handle Cultural Heritage. Sometimes Nathan was more concerned about his car, than human lives, historical sites or the finds he encountered.

Why this is still a great game

While playing the game, I was again impressed by the story-telling, the visuals and the game mechanics. This is something Uncharted does really well and it kind of glues you to the screen. It does not happen very often that I play though games, but Uncharted 4 is definitely one of these games. If you are in for a good adventure story and don’t mind blowing up historical sites (in a videogame!), than I can totally recommend this game to you.

Having said that, I also want to mention that I still think, that you could also create a very entertaining game without destroying everything of relevance in your way. Drake could transform into a history preserving character and still discover all the secrets, fight made up villains and climb, jump and swing through the landscape. It would just need a little adjustment and we could have a great game with a great message… but well…

By the way: During the game you encounter the portrait of a pirate that Nathan has difficulties remembering the name of. I guess it is a generational thing, as only the older ones among you will recognize this pirate. Did you?



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Sebastian Hageneuer

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. (Nearly) Every Friday.

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