For reasons best known to Sony, the best thing at E3 was the longer version of its E3 Uncharted 4 (opens in new tab) demo that it didn't show at the conference. Behind closed doors, an extended version of the truck chase continued the sequence and raised the bar so high it might well break all other games.
What happens is impossible to describe without falling into hyperbole because holy Christ I nearly lost my shit, with gameplay that almost seemed to be mocking your ability to deal with it - piling sequence onto sequence, and building the pace and action up to to a level that's almost impossible to comprehend without seeing it. Nothing else out there can compete with what I saw: there's honestly a world before that demo and world after.
In the original Sony press conference (opens in new tab) demo, Nate and Sully shot their way through a market, escaping bad guys and a gun-carrying APC truck in a smashy downhill drive. In the short version, Drake lassos an overhanging crane arm and swings alongside a bridge as it smashes him into obstacles. Fade to black, crowd goes wild.
The extended demo continues this sequence, only with the swinging changing to dragging as Nate's pulled up onto a muddy road. There's what I can only describe as the best mud physics I've ever seen here, as Nate slops and slides along the ground behind the truck. Nathan's forced to take chaotic pot shots at gunmen in pursuing jeeps while he desperately tries to climb the rope and claim the truck.
From there, via a shootout on the back of the truck, Drake manages to jump to another jeep as he tries to catch up with his brother Sam's motorbike - the reason for the chase in the first place. Throughout all this, the speed and scale is huge. There's no sense of being on a single straight road with prop trees whizzing past; this is all taking place in a huge open environment. Vehicles careen and rattle between routes and obstacles, or go pinwheeling through the air in sheets of flame once the tires have been shot out. It's fast, loud and cinematically overwhelming.
And it's not even the best part. After fighting some goons who're trying Nate's jeep-hopping tricks to get from their ride to his, Drake catches up with his brother and jumps on the bike. From here, it just goes crazy. The camera switches to a front view as the pursuing APCs give chase, smashing through obstacles and skidding back and forth on their heels.
What's impossible to understand until you see it is just how kinetic and animated it all is. It's not a static rolling road creating a background for a shooting gallery. It's a twisting, turning, full-on car chase. Sam throws the bike around, leaning into skids or throwing a leg out for sharp turns. The view swings around the action and the bouncing bike as Nate peppers the pursuing vehicle's grill with bullets. Beautiful depth-of-field effects and camera angles create an incredible sense of velocity as the carnage unfolds.
It ends with the pair sliding the bike under a container as the APC explodes behind them. It's ridiculous and joyously over-the-top in a way that even the game seems to acknowledge, with Drake and Sam bursting into grins at the end like school kids that have just had the best fun ever.
It's definitely a return to Uncharted 2's sense of scale and action, recreating the thrill of that game's helicopter chase. But on a level so far above that, and what other games have achieved, that it's a literal game changer (I said there'd be hyperbole). The scale, speed, and sheer ambition of the sequence genuinely has the potential to redefine what's possible, drawing a line in this generation's games and not so much raising the bar as firing it into orbit.