Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection


Digital FoundryThe making of Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection

Bluepoint Games discusses PS4's finest remaster with Digital Foundry.

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on PS4

Digital Foundry concludes its analysis of the Nathan Drake Collection and looks at day one patch improvements.

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on PS4

How the Nathan Drake Collection modernises and improves a genuine last-gen classic.

Key events

Uncharted film taps new director

Shawn Levy of Night at the Museum and Real Steel to helm.

The Uncharted movie has found a new director with Shawn Levy, the man who helmed both Night At The Museum films, Date Night, and Real Steel.

Uncharted remasters to be available individually next month

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection wonderfully remastered Naughty Dog's groundbreaking treasure-hunting adventure trilogy (back when it was still a trilogy), but it was rather costly if you were only interested in one or two of the collected titles. That won't be a problem come 16th November in Europe as Sony will start selling each remastered entry a la carte.

What we don't know is the price point. Chances are it will still be a lot cheaper to purchase the Nathan Drake Collection, especially as the anthology has come down in price since its release last October. Right now several sellers on Amazon UK are charging 30 or less for it.

Still, the individual titles might be worth it if you just want to play one of the games. But which one? Uncharted 2 is the fan-favourite, but our Oli Welsh seemed particularly fond of Uncharted 3 upon reassessing the series, while there are the rare holdouts who still favour the original adventure above all.

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The Uncharted movie has a new screenwriter

Sony taps The Grey and A-Team scribe Joe Carnahan.

The Uncharted movie now has a new screenwriter, so we know it's still in development - even if it's sounding unlikely that it will hit its previously reported June 2017 release.

On paper Naughty Dog's Uncharted series is as generic as it gets. It's about a good looking white, heterosexual man going on exciting globe-trotting adventures, killing bad guys and wooing a spunky blonde reporter. On this level, it's functional at best and banal at worst. But dig deeper and it becomes clear that Naughty Dog's bombastic blockbuster series quietly had a profound effect on the medium's development over the past several years.

Digital FoundryThe making of Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection

Bluepoint Games discusses PS4's finest remaster with Digital Foundry.

Sony's big first party game for the holiday season is a remaster - but not just any remaster. Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection is a beautiful recreation of three of PlayStation 3's finest games, upgraded not just with higher resolutions and smoother frame-rates, but with top-to-bottom improvements of the original artwork, with enhancements made across the board. This works in combination with new gameplay modes along with a comprehensive re-evaluation core gameplay systems. We've previously dissected Drake's Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake's Deception in depth, but we still wanted to learn more about how this exceptional project was put together.

Face-Off: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on PS4

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on PS4

Digital Foundry concludes its analysis of the Nathan Drake Collection and looks at day one patch improvements.

As a culmination of Naughty Dog's work over the course of the PlayStation 3 generation, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception delivers a level of visual quality few games on the platform could hope to match. First released in 2011, Uncharted 3 remains the most divisive of Naughty Dog's PlayStation 3 games. In the wake of the spectacular Among Thieves, the hype surrounding the release of Drake's Deception was immense and in the eyes of certain fans, the game didn't entirely live up to those expectations. Yet, given a second chance, there's an adeptly-crafted game here, something that becomes clear when revisiting the title in 2015. When separated from the hype, Uncharted 3 really shines - especially on PlayStation 4.

While the game itself may have fallen short of initial expectations in some quarters, its technological foundations certainly do not. Uncharted 3 stands as one of the most visually ambitious titles to have graced Sony's last-generation console. Pushing effects work, animation and scene complexity through the roof, it is, quite simply, a beautiful game. While it lacks the larger levels and impressive indirect lighting of The Last of Us, it offers a spectacle that still manages to eclipse many games released today, backed up by characterisation and story-telling Naughty Dog's rivals are still struggling to match.

With such an incredible foundation, just what could we expect from a remaster then? Looking back at the first two Uncharted games, Bluepoint remade a tremendous number of assets to enhance each title but with Uncharted 3, that's not really the case. Asset quality remains very similar to the original game throughout the experience. However, if you look closer, Bluepoint's attention to detail still manages to shine through in this excellent remaster.

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Uncharted: Remastered, revisited, reassessed

FeatureUncharted: Remastered, revisited, reassessed

Playing the Nathan Drake Collection.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, released today for PlayStation 4, has a few purposes. It makes Naughty Dog's trio of populist action spectaculars available to play on current consoles. It introduces them to what Sony estimates are the 50 per cent of PS4 owners who didn't have a PS3. And it presents these already exceedingly handsome games in a pristine, buttery smooth remaster by Bluepoint Games which, for its sheer polish and attention to detail, must go down as one of the finest game reissues ever.

Digital Foundry on The Nathan Drake Collection

Bluepoint Games' reissue of the three Uncharted games sadly doesn't include multiplayer modes, while it adds a new photo mode and a timed continuous speed option. But its principal point of interest is as a remaster that boosts the fidelity of the original games - notably to 60 frames per second - whilst being painstakingly faithful to the source and maintaining a consistent, unified interface. It's superb work, as Digital Foundry's John Linneman explains in detail:

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Face-Off: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on PS4

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on PS4

How the Nathan Drake Collection modernises and improves a genuine last-gen classic.

When it comes to pushing hardware to its limits, Naughty Dog is one of the best in the business. Yet, more than any of its previous games, it was Uncharted 2 that really demonstrated just how much of a technical powerhouse the studio really had become. The PS3 original was a technical marvel in its time and a huge improvement over the first Uncharted, with sweeping changes made to lighting, animation, materials, and frame-rate.

So when approaching the remastered Uncharted, we weren't entirely sure what to expect. Unlike Drake's Fortune, returning to the original PS3 release of Among Thieves isn't difficult - it remains a beautiful, highly playable game that continues to impress to this day. Improving upon an already polished experience is not a simple task by any means. So how has Bluepoint tackled this already stunning looking game in bringing it to PlayStation 4?

To begin with, we see the expected improvements right up front. That means a full 1080p resolution coupled with an excellent post-process anti-aliasing solution that manages to dodge in-surface aliasing while minimising flicker and blur. In addition, anisotropic filtering is utilised across the game with a variable level of quality. We see some surfaces operating with what looks similar to 16x AF while other, less important details seem to go as low as 4x. Even at its lowest level, it's still a substantial improvement over the trilinear filtering used on PlayStation 3. Image quality is simply excellent all around here.

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Last month, Aoife and I had the great pleasure of meeting veteran video game voice actor Nolan North. We filmed a lovely interview about the reality of video game voice acting, and I managed to rope him into taking part in one of the most incredible Dad-Jokes of all-time.

Face-Off: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PS4

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune on PS4

Digital Foundry tackles the opening chapter of the Nathan Drake Collection.

Let's cut to the chase here. Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection is a colossal undertaking on the part of Sony and its chosen developer, Bluepoint Games. Each of the games in the pack receives a sublime level of care and attention, making each title worthy of detailed analysis. With that in mind, we've decided to produce in-depth coverage for every game in the package, beginning with the most dramatically improved game in the remastered trilogy: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

With the upcoming release of Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection, it's time once again to revisit the game that started it all - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Featuring updated assets, improved performance, and sharper visuals, the 2007 original is reborn on PlayStation 4, offering the definitive version of the original Uncharted experience. We've already praised the Nathan Drake Collection as a whole, but in looking at each of the three games individually, it's clear that the original game benefits the most from these improvements. There are a lot of enhancements made to this game and each change feeds into the rest, resulting a more enjoyable and balanced overall experience.

As Naughty Dog's first attempt at a PlayStation 3 game, the talented development team was faced with its greatest challenge yet - the Cell processor. Starting life as 'Project Big', Uncharted was written entirely from scratch over the course of three years. Naughty Dog was already well known for its technical prowess but this new challenge pushed both the team and the PlayStation 3 itself to their limits. With relatively minimal SPU usage, a key to successful PS3 development, and such limitations standing in the way, the original game's potential was not fully reached. Yet, the title was delivered on schedule and, at the time, was considered a showpiece for the PlayStation 3. While revisiting the game for this article, however, we were surprised to discover so many technical flaws - the most noticeable of which is certainly the near constant screen-tear. Thankfully, on PS4, this bugbear has finally been put to pasture.

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The waiting is almost over. In just over a week, Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection hits stores, and we're fortunate enough to be in possession of retail code right now, and we're in a position where we can share some initial findings. Developer Bluepoint Games is well known for deftly translating games across hardware platforms, so expectations could not be higher - especially in light of the wealth of enhancements we spotted in the story trailer alone. Well, the good news is that first impressions suggest a product that delivers everything we were hoping for.

Uncharted 4 beta dated for December

Uncharted 4 beta dated for December

Nathan Drake Collection demo due this month.

The Uncharted 4 beta will launch on 4th December and run through 13th December, Naughty Dog has announced.

To acquire this early multiplayer beta you'll have to purchase the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, due 9th October, and have a PS Plus membership.

A single-player demo for the Nathan Drake collection will arrive on 29th September. Here's how it's shaping up:

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EGX 2015: Sony's Shuhei Yoshida to talk 20 years of PlayStation

Plus, Project Morpheus! An Uncharted Retrospective! More!

This year's EGX, the UK games festival formerly known as the Eurogamer Expo (and run by our parent company Gamer Network), will see Sony's Shuhei Yoshida in a developer session celebrating the 20-year anniversary of PlayStation's launch in the UK.

Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection is more than just a remaster

Digital FoundryUncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection is more than just a remaster

Digital Foundry on the extensive PS4 upgrades found in all three games.

At what point does a remaster become a remake? Remastering involves improving video or audio quality, but fundamentally it is still derived from an existing source. The definition of a remaster in the gaming space is a little vague, but it rarely involves much in the way of new, creative work - it's about enhancing what's already there via higher resolutions and frame-rate boosts. But the release of the latest Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection story trailer demonstrates that developer Bluepoint Games is indeed improving and remaking swathes of Naughty Dog's existing assets, respectfully enhancing even incidental detail. The evidence suggests that this isn't just a simple port we're dealing with here - new art or geometry is commonplace in virtually every shot in this latest trailer. Bluepoint Games is well known for its accomplished work in converting classic games to new platforms but with this new collection, we could well be looking at its best work yet.

In order to better understand what has changed, we took the time to go back and re-create the entire trailer using the original PS3 software. It's important to remember here that the vast majority of footage in this trailer is comprised of scenes that were originally pre-rendered on PlayStation 3 - which begs the question: are they still pre-rendered on PS4? 1080p60 video eats up a lot of disc space - perhaps more than a standard Blu-ray disc can provide. Are we looking at a multi-disc collection here? Have these scenes instead been re-tooled to operate in real-time? It's not clear yet, but we're looking forward to finding out.

Regardless of whether they are pre-rendered or not, a lot of work has gone into to every one of these scenes. As noted above, many assets are improved, sometimes surprisingly so, resulting in richer, more cohesive storytelling across all three games. For instance, the original character models used in Drake's Fortune look rather dated next to those used in Uncharted 3. It makes sense to create a more coherent look across all three games by upgrading the models, and based on what we've seen in the trailer, that's exactly what has happened.

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Digital FoundryUncharted 2's PS4 teaser leaves us hungry for more

Digital Foundry's initial impressions and analysis on Bluepoint's Nathan Drake Collection remastering work.

While there are legitimate concerns that the sheer volume of remasters hitting the current-gen consoles is starting to verge on the ridiculous, we've still got a lot of time for Sony's continuing efforts in bringing PlayStation 3 glory days to its latest console platform. The Last of Us Remastered worked beautifully overall, God of War 3's 1080p60 presentation is excellent, and our first look - more of a glimpse really - of the Uncharted Nathan Drake Collection is also heavy with promise. Right now, from our perspective, all that's missing from the line-up is a Killzone 2/3 release.

Take a look at Uncharted 2 remastered for PlayStation 4

Take a look at Uncharted 2 remastered for PlayStation 4

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection shaping up nicely.

Sony has spoken a bit more about Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, and 1080p 60 frames-per-second gameplay of Uncharted 2 - one of the games included in the collection - has hit the internet.

The video below, from Spanish game website Meristation, shows off the helicopter set piece from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as it appears in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PlayStation 4.

"Assuming this is indeed a real-time capture, Uncharted 2 looks to have aged rather well and this section at least scales up really nicely to 1080p," Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter told me.

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The challenge of remastering Uncharted

Digital FoundryThe challenge of remastering Uncharted

Why porting the Naughty Dog engine isn't simple - and what to expect from The Nathan Drake Collection.

On the face of it, the notion of bringing the entire Uncharted trilogy from PS3 to PS4 - with 1080p60 upgrades to boot - should be relatively simple. After all, PlayStation 4 represents a generational leap in system capabilities, particularly in terms of raw GPU power. However, Naughty Dog's recent GDC talk - "Parallelising the Naughty Dog engine using fibres" - reveals in stark detail how difficult it was to bring The Last of Us across to the new Sony console. Indeed, the initial porting work for the game resulted in a sub-optimal experience operating at less than 10fps.

In many ways, the scale of the challenge with the upcoming Nathan Drake Collection is even more daunting. Three games are in development, not just one, and the original developer itself isn't carrying out the conversion work - instead, Austin-based studio Bluepoint Games is taking the conn. Adding to the difficulty factor, Sony has dropped hints that the three remasters will actually see tangible improvements over the original versions in the form of "better lighting, textures and models", along with a photo mode, plus other enhancements suggested by the community. Just about the only concession is the somewhat disappointing news that the multiplayer components of Uncharted 2 and its sequel will be removed.

Regardless, The Nathan Drake Collection is a highly ambitious project - and the evidence suggests that the efforts Naughty Dog made into bringing The Last of Us onto PlayStation 4 form the technological foundation on which the remasters are based. So how did the studio turn that initial 10fps port into the slick, 60fps release we enjoyed last year? Based on Naughty Dog's GDC presentation, it seems that the developer was more limited by the CPU, rather than the GPU. The studio leveraged the PS3's Cell chip extensively, in particular the six available SPU satellite processors. The original engine targeted a 30fps update, based on a single processing thread consisting of game logic followed by a command buffer set-up (basically generating the instructions for the GPU). Most of the engine systems were hived off to the SPUs, with the main processor - Cell's PPU - running the majority of the actual gameplay code.

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