Uncharted 4... told entirely through Nate's incredible facial expressions

Emotional wreckage

Not since Jim ‘rubber-face’ Carrey has a man been quite so rubber-faced as Nathan Drake, one the most malleable, expressive, crow’s-feety video game characters ever. And unlike cowardly Jim Carrey, who only ever shows himself from one angle at a time, you can pause Uncharted 4’s action to get a good look at Drake whenever, wherever: underwater, mid-dropkick, falling to his doom, or deep in thought. All of what you are about to see is in-game. Simply press L3 and R3 to enter photo mode and get snapping. Just like me! Have that, Carrey!

SPOILER WARNING!

These screenshots are captured from the entire 12-hour Uncharted 4 experience, so you’re going to see things that are in the game, like locations, outfits and weapons. I haven’t gone and spoiled the ending or given up major plot developments, but keep that in mind if you want to go in completely fresh.

Apathetic

This is Nate’s actual character model, as seen staring indifferently from the 3D viewer. You can unlock the mode by finding treasure then purchasing it with points from the menu, then spin the camera around all of the game’s major characters going “Wheeeee!”, if you like. 

Drake’s inner thoughts:

Ah, this is nice. Nobody’s shooting at me here. There is a distinct lack of treasure, though. Also: the endless grey stretching to infinity is gnawing at my soul.

Straining, not drowning (yet)

The first wave of video game characters would instantly die when entering water. Then later they’d slide in blank-faced, like the reverse of Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. In 2016, their cheeks puff, eyes bulge, and nostrils bubble. Still a bit dissatisfied by Drake’s forehead gash not washing clean in the sea, though. Maybe in 2020?

Drake’s inner thoughts:

Huh, I’m underwater. I’ve got a bit of air still in my lungs, so I’m fine for the next few seconds. Hopefully I swim to the surface soon. That’s hopefully something that will happen. Otherwise I’ll die.

Exhaling

Video game characters could always breathe in, sure, but that air wouldn’t always come out. This explains why Pac-Man is so round, but not Kirby, who can do both. Modern technology means Nathan Drake can both INspire and REspire in equal measure, like a deflating and inflating balloon, or a pair of bellows, or a human being.

Drake’s inner thoughts:

AHHHHHHHHHH. I’m glad I thought to swim to the surface as I was starting to take physical damage from the lack of oxygen, and my vision was turning black and white to represent this. Phew. Anyway, back down we go. Why am I doing this? What is life?

Distressed

The in-game camera’s toggleable motion blur effects are switched off by default, but they really come into their own during high-speed chases which accentuate Drake’s panic. He’s fast and scared. And really, that’s what this picture is all about. Panic. 

Drake’s inner thoughts:

Why did I grab onto a rope hanging off a speeding truck? What did I expect to happen? I haven’t even got gloves on. This is really stinging my palms and back. I wish I was still underwater.

Hollering

Horrifyingly, when Drake’s pulling off a dramatic stunt and shouting “Ohhh craaap!”, I’ll pause the action and enter photo mode to see if his face correlates, and sometimes it’s expressionless. This understandably saves time animating features you're unlikely to see. That’s not the case here, though, as I capture the adventuresmen mid-howl.

Drake’s inner thoughts:

I could eat a burger thiiiiiiis big. Just chomp on it. Something grip-shaped, like a sourdough loaf or bap of some kind. Just slot it right in here. Go on. I haven’t had anything to eat or drink in two weeks, not including the water I swallowed while drowning. 

Punting

There are few actions more thrilling in Uncharted 4 than pressing Square to jump up and boot someone in the face. The move is random - I’ve seen anything from a running punches to full on double-leg dropkicks. This looks bang-on in between. Let’s call it a drunch pick. 

Drake’s inner thoughts:

Am I kicking a guy in the face right now? I think I am. I’m kicking a guy in the face right now. This is crazy. As we speak the guy is literally being kicked by me. I have always wondered how this would feel. 

Scuba-doing

Naughty Dog could have easily blacked out your scuba mask and saved on extra work rigging Drake’s face, but no. They gave you a big old transparent window and lit it up, giving the effect that you’re a game character in a scuba mask that’s lit up in order to show that he has a well-animated face in a scuba mask.

Drake’s inner thoughts:

Haha, I’m underwater, and not drowning. This is pretty cool. Ayyy haha. Classic Nate. You seeing this? Yep, pretty cool, pretty cool...ahhh. Pretty cool...I want to go home please.

Reevaluating his entire life

Ok, I took this from a cinematic (the only shot here I took from a cinematic), but cinematics are in-engine and this scene is too good to miss. It portrays a domesticated Drake sitting at home with his wife, Elena, having swapped high adventure for stir fry and PlayStation, and the look on his face communicates how he’s feeling about that.

Drake’s inner thoughts:

I’ve swapped high adventure for PlayStation, sure but I’m actually cool with that. I like my wife, and my house is nice. Don’t read too much into my face. I’m literally just about to sneeze. Do Uncharted games exist in this universe? Mmm… existential.

Murdering

Clint Eastwood supposedly fired magnums without blinking. I like how Nate is the exact opposite, grimacing as he fights to control a rattling firearm, hot shell casings whizzing past his face. I can relate to that (the grimacing I mean, not the shootouts).

Drake’s inner thoughts:

I don’t want to kill you, I really don’t. I took ages getting dressed up, but you started shooting at me, and there was this gun nearby, and I’ve got some light auto-aim enabled, so… I know. Sorry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 2012 Ben began his perilous journey in the games industry as a mostly competent writer, later backflipping into the hallowed halls of GamesRadar+ where his purple prose and beige prose combine to form a new type of prose he likes to call ‘brown prose’.
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