‘Gritty’ Xbox shooters shaped original Uncharted

The colorful forests and gorgeous ruins of the original Uncharted used to belong not to famous fortune hunters and Spaniards, but elves and orcs, would you believe it.

Ex-Naughty Dog environment modeler Don Poole revealed as much to NowGamer in a recent interview. “We were talking about a more ‘realistic’ game in terms of how it was modelled and rendered but the concepts were much more far out,” he revealed. “One was a forest world where the antagonists lived underground. It had elements of Tolkien in for sure.

“Sony kept pushing for a more realistic game in all respects. The market had changed a lot by then. The demographic was older and gritty shooters were really dominating. Sony wanted very much to get into that market share, it pushed all of its developers in this direction.”

Thus, the Uncharted we all know and love was born. But it went further than Naughty Dog, as Poole explained: “So the big push from Sony, not just at Naughty Dog but at all of Sony’s development companies at the time, was to craft games for PlayStation 3 that were much more realistic. The pressure from Xbox’s success with gritty shooters was a very real force on our direction at that time.”

So that’s Resistance and Killzone too? Regardless, some of the older Dogs weren’t happy about this change in direction. “We had a lot of internal grumbling about the realist bent. More of the old dogs were from the Crash and Jak era and preferred that more whimsical style. But alas, that was a losing battle,” Poole concluded.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was revealed to the world at E3 2006 and already held that ‘gritty’ element Poole spoke of. Xbox-exclusive Gears of War didn’t release until the end of that year so this must have required a fair bit of foresight on Sony’s part.

The third entry in the popular franchise, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will hit the US on November 1 and Europe the following day.