Critical Intel

Critical Intel
Decoding the Uncharted 4 Teaser

Robert Rath | 9 Jan 2014 16:00
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Let the Speculation Begin

That's really all we know at this point. Lacking a full trailer or even a proper title, we can't even confirm whether Drake will make an appearance, or whether this is a Black Ops-style offshoot set during the 18th century. What the game will be about is anyone's guess.

And well, I'm anyone, so I'm going to guess.

Neither Libertalia or Every's treasure seems grand enough for Uncharted - a ratty pirate republic isn't exactly El Dorado, Shambahla or Ubar. But following Every would be a great adventure hook for something greater. Uncharted adheres to a strict formula. The team recovers an artifact owned by a famous person. That artifact then leads to more clues, allowing the team to follow the trail of its owner to a lost city - and a pseudo-scientific reinterpretation of the legend.

So where will Every lead us? Based on the trailer, I suspect a more religious location this time around. "For God and Liberty," isn't the only biblical language in the trailer. There are also two references to hell, and the Latin phrase Hodie Mecum Eris in Paradiso, or "Today you will be with me in Paradise." It's probably the only time you'll see Jesus Christ quoted in a triple-A trailer.

While the quote refers to heaven, I'm guessing Uncharted is more interested in the fabled "Earthly Paradise," better known as the Garden of Eden. And it just so happens that one reputed location of the garden lies just up the African coast from Madagascar, in Ethiopia.

Between the 12th and 17th centuries, Europeans fervently believed in Prester John, a priest-king descended from one of the Three Wise Men. According to the legend, John ruled over a Christian land rich with treasure and exotic wonders, defending his territory from the Muslim and Pagan kingdoms surrounding him. Belief in the priest-king skyrocketed after a forged letter surfaced in 1165, claiming to be from Prester John and describing his kingdom. His lands were full of amazing animals - not only red lions, giraffes and elephants, but also cyclopes, giants, griffons, satyrs, horned men and cannibal tribes. In addition, John had a mirror that let him see anywhere in his kingdom, stones that cured blindness, the fountain of youth and jewels beyond counting.

His kingdom was also "scarcely three days journey from paradise, out of which Adam was driven."

Originally John's kingdom was supposed to be in India, but as that subcontinent became more familiar to Europeans, the legend changed to place John in then-unexplored Ethiopia. Strangely enough, scientists believe Ethiopia is where human life originated. That's a pretty heady mixture of myth, science and magical artifacts - just the stuff Uncharted trades on.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. I have a bad record when it comes to speculation. But here's what we have for sure: A lost pirate utopia, an unimaginable treasure horde, revenge and some hints of mysticism.

Sounds like an Uncharted game to me.

Robert Rath is a freelance writer, novelist, and researcher currently based in Hong Kong. You can follow his exploits at RobWritesPulp.com or on Twitter at @RobWritesPulp.

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