Five features we want to see in Uncharted 2

We’d challenge anyone attempting to extol the offerings of the PlayStation 3’s vastly growing software library not to give mention to the critically lauded Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Developed by the talented coders at Naughty Dog, Uncharted remains one of the PS3’s most celebrated releases to date, offering up a thrilling package of intense action, gripping narrative and sumptuous visuals.

Imagine, if you will, how chuffed we were when the developers officially lifted the lid on the inevitable sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which is currently penciled in for release on Sony’s black behemoth later this year. As expected, the team is looking to spice up the proceedings by including a number of additional gameplay elements and tweaks, chief among them the inclusion of stealth mechanics and advanced AI.

While we have absolute faith in Naughty Dog, PSU has compiled a list of the top five features that we’re itching to see included in Nathan Drake’s latest outing that ultimately failed to make the cut in the original game. Without further ado, here’s our Uncharted 2 wish list.

1. Greater Enemy Variety

As satisfying as the combat in Uncharted is, one particular thorn in the game’s side is the lack of variety in the enemies Drake encountered. Sure, the wonderfully implemented cover system and solid AI made for some intense shootouts, but capping seemingly endless waves of pugnacious pirates and other goons got a little stale towards the game’s climax. Naughty Dog teased us with the mutated Spaniards, though their screen time was ultimately sorely lacking in comparison.


Given the exotic surroundings Drake has visited so far in his adventures, we would like to see Naughty Dog shake things up a bit in the enemy department – for example, how about throwing in some indigenous wildlife for our brash hero to battle? Perhaps some melee-based human foes, or some additional boss fights? Fingers crossed.

2. Revamped Close Quarters Combat

Nathan Hale has a gun butt, Marcus Phoenix has a chainsaw, and Nathan Drake has his fists. Drake’s Fortune included a hefty arsenal of melee attacks, but many weren’t able to master even the most basic maneuvers. The game’s combo attacks were performed through specific button press sequences that, when timed correctly, doled out massive damage. Most gamers, however, would wildly mash buttons, yielding unsuccessful results. Even expert players often found the melee mechanics unwieldy.


We want Naughty Dog to head back to the drawing board for Uncharted 2’s melee combat. Stealth already appears to play a much larger role in gameplay this time around, which should lend itself well to hand-to-hand encounters. We’d love to see Drake sneak up on adversaries and take them hostage, using their squirming torsos as human shields. When his foes do spot him, though, melee combat should differ from the timed button presses seen in the original Uncharted. Naughty Dog should look to successful third person brawlers, like Yakuza, for inspiration.

3. Increased Exploration

Uncharted’s environments were a sight to behold. Aside from jaw-dropping aesthetic appeal afford by the technical prowess of Sony’s black box, the game’s locations were positively dripping with atmosphere, evoking images of the archaeologist exploits of the gun-toting Lara Croft to the culture-rich, exotic locales of Indiana Jones. Abandoned forts, vast forests, underground catacombs and crumbling monasteries are just some of the highlights plucked from memory.


Yet, despite the wealth of locales on offer, players were given little incentive to actually soak them up aside from hunting for the occasional treasure, instead concentrating on pumping a few rounds into the nearest bad guy or leaping across a gaping chasm. We would like to see a little more emphasis on exploration in the sequel, perhaps allowing gamers to examine various parts of your surroundings. Concurrently, this could also be intertwined with solving various puzzles and collecting hidden goodies, squeezing the most out of the game’s locales.

4. Destructible Environments

While the environments of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune were bodacious and beautiful, they were relatively untouchable. Sure, there was the occasional heap of rocks that a few rounds of gunfire could tear down, but that was it. Since the original Uncharted launched, Far Cry 2 sparked our imaginations with its incredible fire propagation system, and more recently, Killzone 2 awed us with its realistic destructibility engine that allows players to utterly decimate objects and structures with enough firepower.


Now imagine similar systems in Uncharted 2. We can see the scene now: Drake eyes several foes and shoots a nearby gas barrel, causing fire to cascade through nearby structures. The soldiers are just out of the blast’s range, however, and dash into a bordering brick building. While they guard the entrance, Drake sneaks to an alleyway parallel to the entrance, scurries to the end, and hucks a grenade at the wall. A portion of the bricks shatter, and, amidst a sea of flame and debris, Drake pulls out his pistol, and coolly eliminates his enemies.

While that may be an overly ambitious example, destructibility adds to visual presentation while simultaneously creating new gameplay strategies, so here’s to hoping that Naughty Dog throws a bit of bang into Uncharted 2.

5. Cooperative Play

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was an amazing game, but it was strictly a single-player experience – which is understandable for a first-generation PS3 title. If a developer wants to implement cooperative play, the entire game has to be designed with multiple players in mind, or the end product won’t be an enjoyable experience. Also, there are dozens of technical boundaries that must be surpassed to get the game running at passable specifications, particularly for offline co-op. If those design and technical boundaries can be bested, however, then cooperative play can be a memorable, shared journey that often trumps a game’s single-player counterpart.


We know the folks over at Naughty Dog are talented; if they put co-op in Uncharted 2, they’ll do it right. Cleverly crafted co-op like Resident Evil 5’s would be incredible, and we have reason to believe that it will happen, too. Elena Fisher from Drake’s Fortune was not a fighter, but Chloe Frazer most certainly is. She is purported to be Drake’s "equal in every way." If that isn’t a hint that Drake won’t be treasure-hunting solo, we don’t know what is.

-By Mike Harradence and Eric Blattberg