Uncharted 4 needs a run button, desperately
We’ve just completed a hands-on preview session with an open-world section of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and guess what it was missing?
Why is the inability to run the one thought that keeps echoing around my mind following a thirty minute session playing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s single player campaign? Surely talking up the enjoyable new driving mechanics, deliciously fun grappling hook, deviously smart AI or the sheer joy of re-joining some of my favourite characters of all time would be more worthy of this space.
But all I can think about is that darn run button… or lack thereof.
It’s unclear at this point how much of the Uncharted 4 experience will unfold in these wider, more open-world expanses, but for the entirety of my hands-on session, this was my playground. With partner Sully and brother Sam along for the ride, Nathan Drake pilots a jeep over rugged, muddy, obstacle filled terrain on pursuit of treasure. It’s a very different setup for the series, but it’s done in a way that feels like a naturally extension of the existing gameplay. Driving is part of the puzzle elements linked to exploration; they’re much like the climbing sections that challenge you with finding a way past an obstacle, only they’re done from the driver’s seat.
It would be unfair in comparison to games like Far Cry and GTA to call Uncharted 4 an open-world game, but certainly there is more freedom than we are used to from the religiously linear Uncharted series. Off the rails, you can gallivant around exploring for collectables and little sidequests to follow. You’ll scale old ruins, explore behind waterfalls and clamber into caves. That sense of playing in a sandbox spills into combat, too, where you can approach enemy strongholds from multiple directions and using a range of differing tactics.
The end result, is a lot of time not in your Jeep with the pedal to the metal rocketing from A to B, but instead climbing out to explore areas on foot or stealth towards enemy locations. And during these moments, you cannot run. Why can’t you run?
Instead, action man Nathan Drake waddles around like he is on a Sunday stroll. Sure there are moments, like when you are sneaking through the bushes towards the exposed neck of some henchman, that moving slowly is welcomed. But when you are just trying to get across a large expanse to scale a ruin, and then go back across that same expanse to get to your jeep, then you want to run. Instinctively, you just need to run.
As it stands, climbing out of the car to explore is just plain not fun. You want to hold down something or press something and see the bloke stumble into a bit of a jog so you can spend less time frustratingly grinding through steps and more time thrilling through and orgy or explosions, exposition and exploration.
Am I behaving like a spoilt little brat? Absolutely, Uncharted 4 is looking awesome… but I still want a run button.