If you’ve played your fair share of shooters and action games, you’ve probably thought about how ridiculous gun mechanics are. In games like Borderlands and Destiny, you can shoot an enemy thousands of times before they feel the damage. In Call of Duty, the swing of a knife does more damage than a couple of shots to the chest. While it may seem like there are only a handful of games that follow a realistic understanding of how firearms work (the recent Wolfenstein games being a key example), the Uncharted series has taken a different path this whole time, and we were all clueless to its cleverness.
I know what you’re about to say as you’re reading this: after mowing down an average of 700 enemies per game, there’s no way Nathan Drake hasn’t taken at least one bullet. I’ve played the entire series, and I’ve gotten killed an embarrassing amount of times. I recognize that when the game goes monochrome and the UI flashes red, I’m in trouble and I’m taking damage.
As it turns out, however, this isn’t simply a regenerative health system, though it behaves in a similar manner. According to
a tweet from Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper, the Uncharted series instead features a luck meter. When you get “hit” in the game, it’s really just a near miss, which triggers your luck meter to drop. After you get enough of these near misses, your luck begins to run out, which means you’re wide open for an enemy to make a clear shot. The monochrome filter and red flashes from the UI react accordingly, making it easy to mistake for your typical health system.
Amy Hennig, the franchise’s former director,
confirmed this and added that Nathan Drake’s tale is an homage to the adventures of Indiana Jones and is in the vein of action films like it. A simple health meter would get in the way of the action packed, adventurous nature of the films they pay tribute to, where the hero always faces unbelievable odds and survives triumphantly. This may make the enemies look like terrible marksmen. Much like Stormtroopers from Star Wars lore, however, they are incredibly skilled, but the luck of the hero reigns supreme.
If you’re looking to fight with a little less luck on your side, the difficulty options actually make a difference. The “Crushing” difficulty in the original trilogy and the “Brutal” difficulty in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End can make for one hell of a difficult play through, as your luck doesn’t matter as much, making the enemies a lot better at their jobs.
Meme about it all you want, but
Uncharted is ultimately a video game, not a movie. Naughty Dog wanted to make a clear translation between action film and action game, and this “luck meter” system was necessary to bring a beloved film trope to the PlayStation.
How do you feel about this unique gameplay system? Is it just regenerative health with a fancy name, or does it make the difference in immersion? Hit the comments to let us know how you feel!