Uncharted 4 frequently uses ropes and cables in its puzzles and traversal, but the physics are rudimentary compared to what Naughty Dog put in TLOU 2.
When The Last of Us Part II released in 2020, many were astounded by the game’s realistic rope physics. With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End having a resurgence thanks to the release of the Legacy of Thieves collection on PC and PS5, it’s become apparent that developer Naughty Dog was experimenting with rope physics six years before TLOU 2 came out. The ropes in Uncharted 4 aren’t nearly as lifelike, but it’s interesting to see how Naughty Dog may have been prototyping some ideas.
Although Sony is bringing many of its games to PC – including Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy – TLOU 2 remains one of the big PS4 exclusives still not on PC, which is a shame because of how detailed the game is. Its character models and environments are exceptionally believable, and even though physics aren’t a major part of the game, a few rope puzzles show off some impressive simulation. The ropes have complex interactions and realistic collision with the characters and environment as players throw them over fences, wrap them around buildings, and pull on them.
Uncharted 4 actually happens to use ropes a lot more than TLOU 2. A Thief’s End was the first game in the series to give players a grappling hook, which is used frequently throughout the game for traversal, environmental puzzles, and a high octane stunt during Uncharted‘s best chase scene. The game also has players interact with cables in a variety of ways, such as hooking them around a cargo container while Nate is working as a salvage diver, and later in the game when there is a winch on the front of the car Nate, Sully, and Sam rent in Madagascar.
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For the most part, whenever Uncharted 4‘s ropes are being manipulated by the player, they’re being pulled taut. Grabbing the winch hook, pulling it up a hill, and wrapping it around a tree is a novel gameplay mechanic, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as throwing a rope over a fence in The Last of Us 2 and seeing it drape naturally. Most of Uncharted 4‘s rope physics are dealing with taut ropes that only have to bend around one or two objects. The momentum that Nate has while swinging from the grappling hook can be pretty convincing at times, but it’s essentially just a line connecting him to the anchor point.
Uncharted 4 impresses with details elsewhere, like in creating one of the best video game houses, but its rope physics, while fun, remain rudimentary in comparison to what Naughty Dog programmed into TLOU 2. The most exciting use of Uncharted 4‘s winch, for instance, doesn’t even feel like a physics engine working. In Madagascar, players have to pull the winch up a hill, past a boulder, and around a tree. During the car’s ascent, the cable pushes the boulder out of place, causing a mudslide that results in the car dangling vertically off a cliff. Although the cable getting pulled taut around the boulder is a nice touch of the game world feeling physical, it ultimately ends up being rather scripted. Regardless, the evolution of Naughty Dog’s rope physics from Uncharted 4 to The Last of Us Part II is apparent.
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