Violence: The Uncharted series features shooting action as well as melee fighting, with mild blood. When the player is shot, the screen becomes edged in red. The third game is slightly more violent than the first two, but all are on par with a PG-13 action movie; in a flashback, an adult woman slaps adolescent Nathan Drake in the face.
Scary Imagery: In Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Drake faces off against some zombie-like mutant humanoids.
Sexual Content: All the games feature some innuendo in dialogue, especially between Nathan Drake and female characters. In Uncharted 2,there is a scene where his ex-girlfriend straddles him in bed, while clothed, and they trade banter.
Strong Language: The games feature quite a bit of swearing, but no f-bombs. Other strong language, however, is common, including some gendered slurs.
Substance Use: One side character smokes a cigar, and there some scenes take place in bars where people can be seen drinking alcohol; in Uncharted 2, Nathan does drink a beer.
Player Interaction: Uncharted 2 introduced multiplayer, in which players can team up as Drake and his companions to complete missions. As with any multiplayer, voice and text chat could expose players to hostility.
Like Lara Croft and James Bond before him, Nathan Drake is an adventurer and an action hero. He is a descendant of explorer Francis Drake, and he has a talent for getting into trouble on the hunt for ancient treasures.
In the first game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Nathan Drake and journalist Emily Fisher find directions to the fabled city of El Dorado when they bring Francis Drake’s coffin up from the seafloor off the coast of Panama. Drake, Emily, and Drake’s mentor Sullivan find out that the city is in fact a statue, which Francis Drake had purposefully abandoned on a deserted island after realizing it contained a virus that turns people into bloodthirsty mutants. In the end, Drake must drop the statue in the ocean and hope it is never found.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves finds Nathan Drake in Asia on the trail of Marco Polo. Polo was allegedly carrying the Cintamani Stone when he was shipwrecked with his crew in Borneo. Drake is again working with Elena and Sullivan, as well as a woman named Chloe Frazer, with whom he shares a past. The main enemy is a man named Zoran Lazarević, a warlord who is also after the stone. As it turns out, the stone is actually made from the resin of the Tree of Life, which grows in the mythical city of Shambhala. The resin is the true prize, as it renders whoever eats it invincible. Nathan blows up the tree and buries the city forever.
Finally, in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Drake is searching for the lost city of Ubar, which was referenced in Francis Drake’s diary. Drake works with all his old allies from previous games, as well as a couple of new ones. When they find the city, deep in the Arabian desert, they find that the city was abandoned when King Solomon captured a djinn in a brass vessel and threw the vessel in a well. The djinn tainted Ubar’s water supply, and people who drink from the city’s water are now affected by powerful hallucinogens. The city is destroyed in the ensuing fight, and Nate flies off into the sunset with Elena and Sullivan.
Uncharted has been criticized because it, like many media, falls into the trap of featuring an all-white main cast. The white characters travel to locations where the population consists mostly of people of color. Because Uncharted, like many games, revolves around shooting enemies, this means that no matter what the creators’ intentions were, the games feature white people traveling to places like Panama or Arabia and shooting people.
This isn’t just a problem of violence, it’s a problem of representation in video games. Without main characters that are people of color, the only people of color are the enemies who must be killed during gameplay.
Uncharted is a classic adventure series following in the footsteps of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider.
- Why are adventure and archaeology stories like this so popular? How does Uncharted compare to other adventure stories that you’ve enjoyed?
- Does the use of historical figures in these stories make you curious to learn about their lives?
- What do you think of the locations that Drake travels to? Would you like to go to any of them yourself?