Naughty Dog has made two thing’s clear with Uncharted 4: it’s not making anymore after this, and a number 5 will be tricky following A Thief's End’s conclusion. More specifically director Neil Druckmann said: “at the end of this story, it will be really hard to do a sequel with Nathan Drake.”
The big question is: what does that mean? ‘Hard to do a sequel’ how exactly? I have theory, but first I want to clear out some of the options that simply aren’t going to happen.
1. Nathan dies
Nu-uh. Not a chance. Not because there’d be an outcry if they did it, but because it’s too obvious. Director Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley would never resort to anything so cheap. Maybe, at a push, some sort of permanent injury could curtail his treasure hunting career but that would make it a final climactic set piece tricky. Unless you finish the game playing as another character, which is different conspiracy theory altogether.
2. Sully dies
Nah. They already fake killed him once in 3. It’s way too soon to pull that shit again.
3. Elena dies
Are you crazy? If Elena falls dead there’d be more of an outcry than Nate buying the big one. Plus killing women for male character development really is something we’re trying to get away from these days. If Naughty Dog think Donut Drake is too insensitive to include this time around then it’s not offing the love interested so Drake can stare moodily into the middle distance before a boss fight.
4. Sam dies
Meh. It’s possible. Anyone really care?
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get on to what I think is going to happen. Firstly, here’s a thing that Neil Druckmann previously said in an interview: “We purposely deceived [players] with certain trailers.”
Specifically, he’s referring to a shot in The Last Of Us trailer where Ellie appears to raise a gun at an infected Joel. Look:
Druckmann said that shot was “made just for the trailer” adding, “that was constructed in such a way so that people would guess that [Ellie shoots an infected Joel] and think that that’s the obvious ending, and then we could turn it on them.” Furthermore, he went on to talk about future trailers, saying, “now maybe I’ll show you the real thing so you think it’s not the real thing.” Basically, don’t trust Naughty Dog as far as you can throw them. It’s a large studio so that’s probably not far.
Which brings me on to what I think is the ending. It all revolves around this guy:
He appears briefly in the trailer asking, “So… are you ready to seek your fortune.” No one actually knows who he is - he’s unnamed and seems to speak with a Spanish accent.
However he does look like someone:
Same nose. Same hair. Okay, he’s got a different voice and is missing the little bird tattoos but as Neil said, Naughty Dog have tweaked trailers before to deceive people, is it so hard to believe they couldn’t change a few bits for this?
Which is where my theory comes in. The reason it “will be really hard to do a sequel” is because the end of the game sees Nate and Drake thrown into prison for a long time and emerge as much older characters - they escape and get the treasure eventually, but as men in their 50s, definitely making it tricky for another studio to pick up the torch after. There’s a narrative precedent here too: Sam’s already spent 15 years forgotten in a foreign prison. No reason it can’t happen again.
But wait, I’m not done. Let’s look at this bit of the trailer in closer detail:
I don’t think that guy at the door is same man as the old Sam that turns around. Neater, darker hair, different nose and no beard. Even the shirt looks a bit different. Let’s look at the last frame before the cut:
If it’s not old Sam then who is it?