Can Uncharted 5 Work Without Naughty Dog?

The torch must be passed.
Can Uncharted 5 Work Without Naughty Dog?
Image Source: PlayStation

A new ad promoting the PlayStation 5 has sent fans into a frenzy after it appeared to tease the next adventure in Naughty Dog’s beloved Uncharted franchise. It does beg the question; can a future installment succeed without the guiding hand of the acclaimed developer?

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The ‘Live From PS5’ ad is presented in the style of a news report and features most of PlayStation’s heavy hitters such as Ratchet and Clank, Aloy, Kratos, and Spider-Man. At first glance, it appears like any other promo for PS5 designed to hype up the console and its upcoming slate of games for the year ahead. But eagle-eyed viewers were left talking about the young woman exploring an ancient-looking cave and uncovering artifacts. The snippets of footage have led fans to believe that this could be the first glimpse of Uncharted 5, featuring Cassie Drake at the forefront — the teenage daughter of Nathan and Elena.

Cassie was first introduced in the epilogue of Uncharted 4 and could be controlled by the player as she uncovered memorabilia from Nate’s past adventures long after he retired. Uncharted 4 was always supposed to signify the end of Nathan Drake’s journey, and while the story wrapped up in a largely satisfying manner, the door was potentially left open for Cassie to fill the shoes that were left by her father.

Uncharted is a mammoth franchise at this stage and one that is quintessential to PlayStation’s identity, reputation, and success. There was cautious optimism last year that Naughty Dog would be returning to the world of Uncharted after a recruiter took to LinkedIn seeking new talent to “Build future teams for not only new titles but the legacy of Uncharted”. However, Naughty Dog’s Co-President Neil Druckmann appeared to dismiss the prospect last week in an interview with BuzzFeed, saying:

For us, Uncharted was insanely successful — Uncharted 4 was one of our best selling games — and we’re able to put our final brushstroke on that story and say that we’re done. We’re moving on.

Neil Druckmann via BuzzFeed

If Naughty Dog really is stepping away from the franchise then there’s the possibility that another developer could take the reigns, but can they deliver the same level of quality? Well, it’s possible, and there is cause to hope that Uncharted 5 can match up to the lofty expectations of the series. Naughty Dog has previously entrusted ports of the Uncharted series to both Bluepoint Games and Iron Galaxy for collections on PS4 and PS5 respectively.

Working on ports of previous games will have given both developers a core understanding of the fundamental gameplay mechanics of the series, however, both are largely known for ports. Bluepoint Games has earned their stripes in the industry recently with their remake of Demon Souls on PS5 and their support to Sony Santa Monica on God of War Ragnarok. That said, there’s still a way to go before the studio can helm a major AAA title.

If there’s one studio in the PlayStation family that truly deserves a shot at Uncharted, it’s Bend Studio. The developers of Days Gone? Really? Yeah! Uncharted: The Golden Abyss is a prequel to the main series and was developed by Sony Bend for the PlayStation Vita in 2011. While it didn’t exactly reach the heights of the first three games, it was a solid installment all the same and faithfully recreated the series’ high octane action platforming and over-the-top set pieces.

It was previously reported by Bloomberg that Bend Studio pitched a new Uncharted game but stepped away after they were concerned that the project would be absorbed by Naughty Dog. Now that Druckmann has made the studio’s intention to step away from the franchise apparent, the path could be clear for Bend to take the reigns.

The studio is somewhat of a black sheep amongst first-party developers for PlayStation fans due to the underwhelming release of Days Gone. However, Bend has a solid foundation to build on with their success on Golden Abyss which they can take with them on Cassie Drake’s first adventure. Beyond that though, what a story it would be for the studio to have a full-on redemption arc by delivering another stellar entry in what is one of the most adored series in modern times.

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Author
Bobby Houston
Bobby is a games journalist with two years of experience and a former freelance news writer for Twinfinite. He covered all things gaming for Twinfinite from July 2022 until March 2023. After spending some time writing news for smaller sites and getting his journalism qualification Bobby joined the team at Twinfinite. He is largely known for his love of Like A Dragon and is usually considered the default Spider-Man fanboy wherever he goes.