Uncharted is easily one of the most iconic video game franchises on PlayStation. The series will soon also make it to theaters with a movie starring Tom Holland as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Sully. The Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is coming to PC in 2022. So, it would be a good idea to rank the Uncharted games from their worst to their best.
Two last things to note before we dive in.
First, this will not be covering the Nathan Drake Collection or Legacy of Thieves Collection. It also won’t cover the digital card game Fight for Fortune. There is one thing that I can say about collections, though. Since the Legacy of Thieves Collection is coming to PC, hopefully Sony also brings the Nathan Drake Collection to PC as well. While Uncharted: Fight for Fortune was a serviceable game, the focus here is the adventure games.
Secondly, the rankings here won’t completely match the Metacritic scores. While critical rankings are important, close rankings have a lot more to consider. So, a game with a slightly lower critical rating can still pull off a higher placement depending on a variety of factors.
Uncharted: The Golden Abyss
While this Uncharted video game is pretty good and beautiful, it fell short of what it could be. This actually has the lowest Metacritic score of 80. There were a lot of novel ideas for it. But Bend Studio needed to have this Uncharted prequel game cooking a bit more to have the full impact that it could’ve.
Starting off, we meet up with Nathan Drake and Jason Dante. They head to an archeological dig site. Nathan meets Dante’s dig partner Marisa Chase. At the dig site, they find the poisoned corpses of Spanish Conquistadors and a grave marker decorated with a Visigoth symbol. When Dante leaves to take a phone call, Nate and Marisa agree to work together after Marisa reveals an amulet inherited from her grandfather.
This is where Dante’s true partner and the game’s villain, General Roberto Guerro, reveal themselves. Guerro is a deposed and brutal military dictator. He’s been trying to overthrow the government that overthrew him. The fabled Quivira could provide him with the gold and uranium to tip the scales in his favor.
The action’s there. The story was strong and had one of the stronger villains in the series. The graphics are striking, offering almost home console levels of fidelity. Even the length of the game doesn’t disappoint. There’s great material here. However, it falls flat mechanically. The issues here are the mechanics using some of the tech in the PS Vita. The push to be a launch title led to some mechanics not being as effective as possible.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Now we get to the first Uncharted video game. Technically, this does have a higher critical Metacritic score than The Lost Legacy. Its Metacritic score is 88. However, The Lost Legacy is stronger. This still did lay the groundwork for what the series became. The building blocks are there from the start.
When the game starts off, we meet Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher for the first time. Elena is a reporter doing an adventure and exploration show. Nathan has found and is recovering the presumed coffin of Sir Francis Drake, based on coordinates on his ring. In the coffin, Drake’s diary seems to reveal the location of El Dorado. After Sully saves them from a pirate attack, Sully and Nate try to leave Elena behind to continue the search. Nate and Sully find a lost Nazi U-boat.
While exploring, Nate finds some documents that give El Dorado’s new location. That’s when Gabriel Roman, a criminal and the villain, reveals himself. Sully is in debt to him. Roman shoots Sully and Nate escapes. He heads to the new island location of El Dorado with Elena. What follows then is a race to find the cursed golden idol first.
The story has all the right elements, though the characters are fairly thin. That’s fine, though, if you’re into more pulpy storytelling. Graphically, it’s a starting point, but this was fairly early on in the PS3 life cycle. Because of this, graphics and textures were a bit muddy. Being the first game in a series, the mechanics had a lot of great ideas, but weren’t as refined as the other home console Uncharted games.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
This is the first Uncharted video game that doesn’t follow Nathan Drake. The new player character perspective is great. It also improves on the new mechanics from A Thief’s End. Technically, this game should be a bit higher on the list if we’re looking at critical score, as it has a Metacritic score of 84. But the new perspective, coupled with the mechanical refinements, made it stand out more than Drake’s Fortune.
In the beginning, Chloe Frazer is infiltrating an Indian city occupied by insurgents. She’s meeting with Nadine Ross as they try to find the Tusk of Ganesh. Chloe’s search for the artifact deals partially with family closure. Her father disappeared while searching for the Tusk.
Nadine Ross happens to also know Asav, the head of the insurgents who happens to be seeking out the same artifact in order to spur on civil war throughout India. She also really doesn’t like Sam Drake, who Asav has hired on as his expert. Nadine’s grudge with Sam is over how things ended in Uncharted 4. Needless to say, things get messy really quickly throughout because of a clash of egos, agendas, and grudges.
The quick-moving story features a beautiful look through different areas of India, whether naturalistic, war-torn, or ancient ruins. The animation actually improves a little on the already stellar graphics of A Thief’s End. The gameplay is smooth, including the mechanics for the grappling hook. The big issue here is length. While what is there is great, it leaves you wanting more in the wrong way. It feels cut down in story and character building.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Even though this game is third in my book, it is still not only a great Uncharted video game. It’s a legitimately great game. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is actually the second-best of the Uncharted games with a Metacritic critical score of 93. The story is strong, though some of the game’s beginning feels a bit padded. Overall, it’s a strong showing that is well worth the Metacritic score.
A Thief’s End continues building up Nathan Drake’s character history by introducing his long-lost brother. Starting off years before Drake’s Fortune, you meet Sam and Rafe as they help Nathan infiltrate a Panamanian prison to find a relic related to the lost treasure of Henry Avery. When Rafe kills the prison warden, the three try to escape. Sam’s wounded and presumed dead.
Flash forward to the present, Nate retired as a treasure hunter. He loves his life but is missing the adventure. Sam comes back into the picture, still hunting for Avery’s treasure after being broken out of prison by a brutal drug lord. It becomes a race between the Drakes and Rafe to find one of the largest lost pirate hauls in history.
Graphically, it’s stunning. Mechanically, it’s solid. Story-wise, it’s good. However, the storytelling got a little predictable. Also, some of the opening material bogs things down. Just for an example, there’s Sam’s return. While Sam is a good stand-in for new players to learn about the series’ previous events, the dialogue options make no sense. A single fade-to-black that fades back in on his reaction to Nathan’s life would’ve been enough. After all, that’s the third time events from the series are covered.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
The further a series goes, the harder it is to keep it fresh. Uncharted 3 is technically fourth with a Metacritic score of 92. However, this actually comes out second best for me. The story comes across as a lot more compact while upping the ante from Uncharted 2’s cinematic action. It expands the relationship between Sully and Nathan by showing how they met. This Uncharted video game just has a lot more well-integrated narrative ideas than Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
To start off, Nathan and Sully meet with Talbot, who wants Nate’s ring for a secret society. It turns out that it’s a setup with an attempt to steal Sir Francis’s ring from Nate. We get a flashback to when Sully and Nate met. When we flash forward to the present, we find out that the double-cross was actually a sting.
With the help of Cutter and Chloe Frazer, they trace the order to an underground library that has a map of Francis Drake’s presumed-failed expedition to find the lost city Ubar. The secret society is trying to find a relic containing a hallucinogenic substance to dominate the world.
This game is an absolute treat. The story is great. The animation is great and, in some ways better, than its predecessors. The gameplay is smooth and improves on the formula set down in the previous games. The soundtrack is amazing.
While there’s a lot of good, it’s not without its flaws. The animation does hit the uncanny valley on occasion. The inclusion of a stereoscopic 3D setting was largely unnecessary. If anything, trying to add in and design for a stereoscopic 3D setting dulled the impact of some of the visuals
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Sequels are usually hard to get right. If you do the exact same thing, it can backfire. Also, if you do things too differently, it can backfire. Among Thieves is easily the best game in the series with both critics and audiences agreeing. It holds a Metacritic critic score of 96.
Flynn and Chloe Frazer approach Nathan Drake for a job. They’re trying to steal a Mongolian oil lamp. Inside the lamp is a treasure map and a blue-burning flammable resin. Flynn betrays you, leaving you for capture to spend three months in a Turkish prison. Chloe and Sully break you out.
You find out that Flynn’s client is a fugitive Serbian war criminal seeking out the fabled wish-granting Cintamani Stone. It’s like the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It becomes a tense race against time that really spells out Nathan Drake’s heroism while also solidifying his relationship with Elena.
This game stands out in a lot of ways. The story is incredible. The gameplay fixed a lot of the issues that arose in the first Uncharted video game, Drake’s Fortune. The soundtrack sets a great mood that helps with immersion.
The graphics for Among Thieves are still a high point of the series. The camerawork is impeccable with a cinematic flair that makes you feel like you’re playing through an action movie. Even the little paths that branched off the largely linear path allowed you to find more treasure, some nice easter eggs, and new cover if needed. There really isn’t a single area of this game that doesn’t shine.