Ranking the Uncharted series, a look back at one of the best franchises in gaming

The real treasure was in the games all along

The Uncharted series is special in many ways. Its characters, it's over the top set piece scenes, and the story for each one of these games were some of the best in gaming. The gameplay was something that I really never mentioned in the article and that's because it was never about the guns, shooting, and sometimes straight up chaos, but rather these treasure hunters and their stories.

Uncharted 4: A Theif's End seems to be taking that to the next level and I couldn't be more excited. A more matured tone of these excellent games on the next-gen PS4 hardware is going to be nothing short of amazing.


It has been said that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End may be the last game in the series and that might be a scary thing for players to face, but regardless of how it ends, the journey to this point was just down right phenomenal.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End releases next week on May 10 exclusively for PS4.


#1 Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

At this point in the series, we have hit the epitome  of graphics. The game looked stunning on the PS3, becoming one of the best-looking games on both consoles — PS3 & Xbox 360. However, this wasn't the thing that made Drake's Deception the special game it is. 

It was primarily due to the fact that Drakes story has really reached its peak. Returning characters like Elena, Chloe, and Victor "Goddam" Sulivan were all back, seemingly being the last entry in the franchise. The driving home factor that threw Drake's Deception over the edge was the game's narrative arc. 

With all the twists and turns that the game makes the player go through, the ending was quite emotional for our beloved heroes. This can also be compared to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves scene where Nate and Elena kid around at the end, but its more than just that. 


We know these characters care for each other, we've seen it for the last 3 games. Now that it was coming to an end, no longer did the player know what was going to happen for the future of our characters. Will Nate and Elena stay together? Will Nate go off on another adventure leaving her behind? All these questions were left to interpret for the player, well that was until Uncharted 4 was announced, but that's not the point.

Naughty Dog's greatest attribute to their games is not just the beautiful detailed worlds, the high-climbing shooting set pieces or even the various amount of villains, but rather their ability to tell a story and make you care. At the time, there was no other game like it, the storytelling, character development, and its use of real world tie-ins to historic places was truly one of a kind.


#2 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 

Among Thieves has plenty of reasons to be number one in the franchise, it had stellar gameplay, awesome introduction to new characters, and most importantly a humanizing story.

There's a handful of reasons of why it shouldn't be number one though. The main reason probably is because of its villains. We had some quick turn of events in the beginning of the game to really hook players but after that, the game kind of plateaus, villain-wise at least.

Lazarević was nothing more than a big brute looking for the Cintamani stone, he had no backstory or real reason of why he needed it, which kind of made the story feel a little dull. Unlike Drake's Deception where players were up against Marlow and all the twists and turns that it came with.


Nevertheless, while playing through Uncharted 2 there was plenty of shocking moments like Drake ditching Elena for Chloe. Don't get me wrong, I love Chloe, but having that sort of connection for Elena in the original game really drove home something special for me. 

That's once again where Naughty Dog struck the hardest, its story and their characters. By the end of Among Thieves, there was a specific scene between Elena and Nate which really displayed both their dynamic bond and the care and love they had for each other. However, Drake's Deception one-ups this scene, but we'll get to that in a minute.


#3 Uncharted: Golden Abyss

The Vita is still alive and kicking, despite how Sony likes to treat it. We recently got some amazing new titles for the tiny handheld platform like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Axiom Verge, and Drink Box's new game — Severed, but perhaps one of the best games on the system is Sony Bend's launch title, Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Golden Abyss was a selling point for the Vita. People Saw Uncharted & Vita and went out and picked it up without a doubt in their mind — rightfully so too. The game was and still is an example of what a Vita game could be. It implemented the use of its touch screen and back touch pad to its maximum capacity bringing a new element of gameplay to the franchise.

Holding up your Vita to a light to see the hidden message, scratching off dirt from the screen, and taking pictures with the Vita as if it was a camera were some of the most sensible uses of the Vita capabilities and it was all featured in Golden Abyss.


However, it wasn't without faults. The story was pretty lackluster giving fans a one-off villain for just the purpose of having a villain. And on top of that, he wasn't even that bad. 

However, it was pretty nice that Bend featured a new side character — Marisa — in the series instead of using someone like Chloe or Elena.  It was kind of disappointing that she was never mentioned in one of the main titles as a cool little nod to players who played the game.

If you're an Uncharted fan that owns a Vita but has yet to try this game, make sure you do it soon, this game is well worth your time.


#4 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

To be the first in any series is no easy task. You have to convince people that your game is worth their time, and on top of that, it has to play well. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was just that. It had a compelling story, it had action, and most importantly it had legit characters. Characters that went off to be some of the most well-recognized faces in the gaming community.

Ask anyone remotely into gaming who Nathan Drake, Sully, and Elena are and 9/10 times they'll know who you're talking about. That's where Naughty Dog succeeded the most in Drake's Fortune — its characters.

This game was a foundation for our soon beloved characters. Even till this day we don't know the entire backstory of Nathan Drake and that is where Naughty Dog got it right. The gameplay was fun, the graphics were amazing for its time, but seeing Nathan for the first time and the story that he was going to embark on was something truly special.


Naughty Dog is one of the few developers that has managed to rarely mess up a game. Regardless of how you feel about them, their games have always been top notch and highly favored by players. If it's from the classic days with Crash Bandicoot, the infected ridden world of The Last of Us, or the iconic Uncharted series — each game was held high on the pedestal for others to take inspiration from and with the soon to be released finale of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, will that stay true once again?

Well, it seems like it will be doing just that judging by early review scores. The game is said to be thrilling, beautiful and more matured, leaving players with both the feeling of awe and disbelief. However, since it's not yet time for the majority of people to play Uncharted 4, thanks to the multiple delays, I went back and replayed the Nathan Drake Collection which is stacked with all three gaming gems — Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.


Each Uncharted title had its own unique element that was brought to the table, if it was from the opening scene of Among Thieves, or the epic cargo plane set piece in Drake's Deception that left players feeling a ton of vertigo. As strange as this sounds, people might have never played one of these games before — I know a few — and when thinking about it, I always question myself which ones' the best? 

If I were to suggest the series to a newcomer I'd point them to the beginning of the series as that is the way they were meant to be played, but it comes down to a bigger question in my head — Which game was the definitive Uncharted game?

So I did the math, and after hours of debating and plenty of long division, I think I figured it out. There is a total of 3 main Uncharted games, plus one if you count the Sony Bend Vita title Uncharted: Golden Abyss — which we are — and sat them all down and solved the puzzling question that I had for years. Here's what I got…