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From the first time Nathan Drake scaled a wall and popped open a treasure chest on Playstation 3, it felt inevitable that the Uncharted franchise would end up on the big screen. With the movie adaptation finally scaling into theaters on Feb. 18, we’re taking a deep dive into where it all began.
Most fans are understandably familiar with the mainline games that sold a zillion copies (approximately) over the PS3, PS4 and PS5 (thanks to those remasters) over the past 15 years. But the franchise goes even deeper than that. So as we prepare to see Tom Holland bring Nate to life with one of his untold early adventures, we’re turning the spotlight on all nine (?!) of the Uncharted games to sort out the true treasures from the fool’s gold.
One caveat: Something had to be first, and something had to be last — but all of the mainline Uncharted games are generally great and we wholeheartedly recommend all of them if you’re looking to replay, or just get into the video game side of the franchise for the first time.
So hone your ledge-grabbing skills, open your mind to solve some puzzles, and let’s take a walk down Nathan Drake Lane.
9. Uncharted: Drake’s Trail (Web, 2007)
Put simply, this one is a deep cut. Drake’s Trail was a web-based tie-in adventure framed around the release of the original Uncharted game, Drake’s Fortune. It featured ten chapters, and was built around the story of Elena employing a private investigator to track down Drake. The browser-based click game had users clicking through the equivalent of Google Maps in an effort to solve a series of clues and puzzles. It was early web-type stuff, and obviously doesn’t hold up too well in the modern era. That said, it was still a clever bit of promo tie-in to tease just how engrossing the franchise would become.
8. Uncharted: Fight for Fortune (PS Vita, 2012)
This Playstation Vita mobile game took the Uncharted franchise in a bit of a different direction, with a turn-based card collecting/battle approach. This is one of those “love it-or-hate it” type of genres, and Fight For Fortune largely landed as a half-hearted attempt to cash in on the Uncharted IP. Reviewers and fans found it as a bit of a stretch from what had come to define from the swashbuckling action of Uncharted, and it drifted fairly quickly into Vita obscurity. .
7. Uncharted: Fortune Hunter (Android/iOS, 2016)
Created as a tie-in around the release of A Thief’s End, this mobile game is a top-down, box moving-style puzzle game that should be relatively familiar to anyone who has… ya know, ever played a mobile game. It might seem like an easy cash-in game at first, but don’t forget that puzzle-solving is also an integral part of the Uncharted franchise anyway. So it does make some sense. The game channels the aesthetic and vibe of the mainline games, filtered through the accessible, more cartoon-y lens of a mobile game. Is it high art? Not particularly, but it is pretty fun.
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita, 2012)
This is a fun one, and likely a full-fledged Uncharted adventure you may have missed if you didn’t own a Playstation Vita handheld. The game was developed as a flagship title for the Vita, with the story serving as a prequel to the mainline Uncharted saga. It incorporated a lot of the action-adventure, platforming gameplay fans loved, and was a true testament to cramming as much as you can into an early 2010s handheld. The game was a solid hit for the Vita, though being an exclusive on a relatively niche handheld limited its reach.
5. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3, 2011)
Clocking in as the last mainline sequel of the PS3 era, Drake’s Deception hit at a time where the formula was running a bit threadbare as the development team tried to continuing innovating after the universal acclaim of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. That didn’t stop the game from still being very good, but it just didn’t do enough to stand above the achievement of Among Thieves, giving fans more of the same. Even if, yes, folks still very much liked what they were getting. Put simply, Drake’s Deception "falters" for being sandwiched between two of the best Playstation games of the modern era on the continuity chart.
4. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3, 2007)
The adventure that started it all. Don’t take the fact that Drake’s Fortune lands at No. 4 as a bad thing. It’s just a testament to how great the franchise continued to become after the first entry. Drake’s Fortune introduced us to Nate, Sully and Elena as they’re out in search of the long-lost treasure of El Dorado. The gameplay was solid but a bit clunky at times in hindsight, but it provided the foundation for the elements and storylines we’d come to know and love for the next decade of games.
3. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4, 2017)
Yeah, we’re aware this isn’t a full-on entry in the Uncharted canon, but The Lost Legacy is fantastic game regardless. Starting live as a DLC and evolving into a not-quite-sequel all its own, The Lost Legacy received a solo release after A Thief’s End and became a hit all its own. It followed Uncharted supporting players Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross as they strike out on their own treasure hunt. The Lost Legacy adopted a more open-world approach than prior entries in the franchise, and for the most part worked really well with that new wrinkle. Though fans thought it could represent a post-Nate path forward for Uncharted, it’s been five years and the franchise has remained dormant expect for remasters.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4, 2016)
With the next-gen jump to Playstation 4, Nathan Drake’s final official adventure needed to live up to the hype and wrap up the franchise in a satisfying way. Thankfully, A Thief’s End checked all the boxes and more. It’s far more expansive and ambitious than the prior games, and made for some of the best graphics ever achieved on the PS4. It’s also a satisfying, heartfelt conclusion to the story of Nathan and his family of friends and fellow adventurers.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3, 2009)
The first Uncharted established the formula, but it wasn’t until Among Thieves that the team at Naughty Dog fully mastered it.
The second Uncharted game is hailed to this day as one of the best video games ever made. And it gained those accolades for good reason. It’s action-packed, well-paced, cinematic, expertly-constructed and just incredibly fun to play — even more than a decade later. This is the pinnacle of Uncharted at its best, regardless of hardware and era. It's ambitious, fun and plays pretty much perfectly.