Fourteen years ago, Naughty Dog developed one of the most mesmerizing adventure games of all time: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a game that would later knock Tomb Raider from the podium altogether. Come 2016, the series effectively fortified its place amongst the greatest video game franchises of all time, with its leading Nathan Drake becoming a renowned figure to the community. And now, even with the tales phasing out and Drake no longer in the picture, it still holds a mighty presence — drawing fans from all over the globe to its enthralling creation.
It’s been fourteen years, and yet, we still round back to Uncharted and replay the many winding journeys for the fun of it. And that’s how we know a franchise is deserving of every accolade in the book. It compels us to return — even when we already know what lies around every single corner. And as far as Uncharted goes — Naughty Dog nailed that feeling down to a tee. But even still, we can’t help but commemorate the series in a proper order, based on both worldwide popularity — and perhaps a dash of personal opinion. So, without further ado, here are the best Uncharted games, ranked.
5. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
After ramping up the hype and pouring a whole lot of praise into Naughty Dog’s earliest Uncharted chapter, it seems wrong to put it at the bottom of our list. And yet, considering how far the franchise has come following on from its overwhelming success, we do have to face the fact that Drake’s Fortune, unfortunately, has been slightly trampled on. But that isn’t to say it’s a bad game. If anything, it truly is a phenomenal work of art. But between Drake’s Fortune and the unaccounted Golden Abyss chapter on Vita, we do have to give a little more credit to their sibling entries.
Drake’s Fortune paved the way for what was to become the Croft Killer, with a timeline of outstanding follow-ups that would ultimately snag the top spot in the genre. For its time, the PlayStation 3 hit was in a league of its own, with a compelling world to absorb, a well-balanced roster with believable relationships and motives, and a genuinely riveting tale to embark on. All in all, Drake’s Fortune gave us plenty to gnaw on, drawing us to board the Uncharted boat for another slice of adventure.
4. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
After Drake’s journey came to a close in 2016, Naughty Dog left an incredibly dull abyss in its place, without any means of trying to cement it. Long-term fans of the franchise wallowed in sadness as the retired explorer was sent out to greener pastures, and before long, the roster slimmed out, essentially putting the nail in the coffin to the Uncharted legacy. Come 2017, however, a glimmer of hope urged to be seen. Drake was out. But Uncharted, in a whole new form, was back.
Admittedly, it took a while to adjust to new shoes in The Lost Legacy, despite already being familiar with the character wearing them. The outspoken Chloe, along with Drake’s brother Sam, teamed up to explore yet another wonder of the world, combining knowledge and power to crack the code and seek eternal glory. Along the way, of course, both curveballs and mind-boggling puzzles leapt forth to keep the team from unearthing the Indian secrets, encapsulating that award-winning formula from previous games. However, while the journey for the valuable Tusk was a thrilling experience overall, it still didn’t quite stack up as high as Nathan’s story arc. It tried, for sure, but The Lost Legacy, honestly, just felt like an expansion to a much better game.
3. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Closing in on the final days of the PlayStation 3 era, Naughty Dog and team knew that they had to commemorate the platform with one ultimate blowout chapter. And that, of course, led to Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, a game that would essentially close the book on Nathan’s adventures for the foreseeable future. Following on from that, Naughty Dog would round off the franchise with a collection and eventually address new IPs. Or at least for a short while, anyway.
Drake’s Deception, as a third chapter to the already booming series, did a spectacular job of compiling all the right ingredients to form one heck of a hearty meal. The relationships between companions blossomed, the vast settings were rich and unique, and the overall gameplay flowed from one plot point to the next. From beginning to end, trucking through puzzle after puzzle, ruin after ruin, every moment enveloped some level of quality, with many portions going on to become the crowning achievements of the series to date.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
While you could easily argue that Drake’s Deception was the most well-rounded game of the original trilogy, we could also say that Among Thieves, even without the polished mechanics, probably had the best story overall. Right from the moment we sunk into Drake’s weighty shoes on a locomotive teetering over a cliff, we immediately became hooked to the narrative that followed suit. Like being placed on a track towards impending doom, we suddenly felt the urge to stay the course and see out the climax. And that’s something that stuck with us for most, if not all of the second chapter.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves certainly had big boots to fill, that’s for sure. After developing a total game-changer only years prior, the lofty task of levelling up and evolving it wouldn’t have been an easy task — even under Naughty Dog’s well-crafted hammer. But alas, it proved any doubters wrong and went on to become not only a more enhanced entry in terms of gameplay — but also an even more powerful story-driven experience. And let’s face it, Drake’s Deception just didn’t quite live up to that same level of quality.
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
After five years in limbo, Naughty Dog finally returned to the drawing board and, in turn, pulled our beloved Nathan Drake out of retirement for one last journey. And honestly, as far as a well-paced narrative goes, Uncharted: A Thief’s End completely smashed it out of the park, tenfold. Finally, after settling for a spin-off and Vita chapter to get us through, the big guns were once again constructed from the arsenal. Nathan Drake was back.
The fourth and final Uncharted game was able to tie all the loose ends we once assumed would never connect. Like filling out the missing parts of a 10,000 piece puzzle, Thief’s End completed the picture and, in return, allowed us the opportunity to see the series in all its glory, both former and current. And as for the actual gameplay? Well, there wasn’t a great deal more Naughty Dog could do to embellish what was already perfected, to be honest. All in all, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was everything that made the series distinguished and more. And honestly — that isn’t something even Naughty Dog will ever be able to evolve from.
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