Naughty Dog has a history of filling it’s Uncharted reveal trailers with tidbits and clues as to what the next game in the franchise will be about. The new trailer released during the run up to the PlayStation 4 launch in New York City seems a little sparse, but with a little research actually reveals quite a bit.
PS Gang digs deep into what the trailer really means for our readers. Read our analysis below.
The trailer begins with a voice over, not by Nolan North as Nathan Drake, but by a completely different character. Amy Henning confirmed on Twitter that Todd Stashwick is the man doing the voice over. He hasn’t been apart of the Uncharted franchise, so presumably he is playing a new character with a history with Drake. Despite what we’ll see later in the trailer, this is not Sir Francis Drake, he is not a contemporary to everything else the trailer hints at.
“Some chains can never be broken,” the voice begins. We see a yellowed old maritime map begin to draw itself. The camera rounds the Cape of Good Hope as the words labeling the sea ink themselves in center frame. “I lost 15 years …buried alive, erased. You left me rotting in that hellhole and never looked back.”
We don’t know who he is talking about, but the implication is that it is about Nathan Drake and more of his past is now catching up to him. While most of the words appearing on the map as it fills in are cities, ports, geographical features, a few are messages that would be in line with the voice.
As we head east the camera pans up as the words “I have lost everything” scrawl themselves on the map” The camera pulls back and flies over to Madagascar. The camera zooms in at the southern tip of the island. The words “Every betrayed us all” appear there. I don’t know what to make of this, while technically correct grammatically, no one talks or writes like this, unless ‘Every’ happens to be someone’s name. In fact, Henry Every was an English pirate working in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the 1690s, known as “The Arch Pirate” and “The King of Pirates” by his contemporaries. He was also one of the most infamous pirates ever. He staged one of the biggest, most profitable raids in history, was never caught and made away with most of the loot by betraying a good portion of his men.
“You can’t outrun the past. When it catches up, when all your lies collapse around you, I’ll be there, sifting through the wreckage. You owe me.” The voice over continues with these lines. We know the cause of these feelings, he was betrayed, and now we know he wants revenge. In this part of the trailer we get into the most interesting and revealing parts of the trailer. As the camera moves up the eastern coast of Madagascar the phrase “Abandon your hopes” a threat, but also a callback to the Cape of Good Hope from the beginning of the trailer. Then a circle is drawn around a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar called I. SE Mary, known in English as St. Mary’s Island. Then an X is drawn over it to mark it and next to it the phrase “For God and Liberty” is written.
To the side we see the skull and crossbones with the phrase “HODIE MECVM ERIS IN PARADISO” encircling it. The phrase is in Latin – the V as a U gives it away – and translates to “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” These are thought to be among the last words of Christ.
This last section doesn’t have to do with the man or Drake and their history. I think it’s telling us the mcguffin of the game. To explain will require a little history.
Back in the 1600 and 1700 Portugal expanded its trading empire by sailing around the bottom of South Africa. This was a huge boon to their country. It was called the Cape of Good Hope, because this is when ships would start sailing more east than south towards the East Indies. This would become a huge and profitable slave traffic route. And where there are profitable ships, there are pirates. Hence the skull and crossbones.
The eastern coast of Madagascar was the location of the legendary pirate country of Libertalia (or Libertatia). Called legendary, because historians aren’t sure it even existed. I’m going to say it’s real enough for the purpose of Uncharted. The pirate utopia’s motto was “for God and Liberty” and included among other sites the I.SE Marie. The only account we have of the nation is from “A General History of the Pyrates” by Captain Charles Johnson – most assuredly a pseudonym, possibly for Daniel Defoe.
Libertalia was founded in near the end of the 17th century and is described as living under a communal city rule, basically a worker owned business and the business is piracy. They had articles and elected delegates that were re-callable. Wealth was shared equally as everything “all should be in common” and decisions were put to “the Vote of the whole Company.” To them it was the ultimate life of liberty and freedom, they thought they were building paradise.
Founded by Captain James Mission, a man with a history of his own too fascinating and long to get into here fully, sufficed to say he was a religious man and converted many to his views. One of which was the evils of slavery. He said, “the Trading for those of our own Species, cou’d never be agreeable to the Eyes of divine Justice: That no Man had Power of Liberty of another.” Unlike the Caribbean pirates that were known for taking salves to make them work for the pirate crews instead of plantations, they outright freed slaves and released prisoners. The renounced their nation heritages, called themselves “The Liberi” – “Enemies of Slavery” and set about boosting every slave ship they could set their eyes upon.
To this day you can go to Ill Sainte-Marie and see the tops of sunk ships. So the “combing though the wreckage” the voice over is talking about could be a literal wreckage for something mystical item of power and not just whatever ruination he brings upon Drake. And given the anti-slavery mission of the nation whose treasure the game will be about, the “some chains can never be broken” and “lost 15 years” are going to have significance as it rhymes with the history of the area.
One last thing. I looked up “A General History of the Pyrates” and it has all the big names you’d expect to see in there, Edward Teach, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, but one name caught my eye and I just had to look up, the pirate Nathaniel North. It’s a name too close to the combination of the series’ main character and the actor that plays him. And guess where he operated, the Indian Ocean. In 1699 he was serving as quartermaster under Captain Samuel Inless on the Dolphin (you will see Dolphin on the map in the trailer, it’s the location of a sea port in southern Madagascar).
They took a large Danish ship and sailed to IIE Sainte-Marie to divide the plunder. That’s about when 4 British warships showed up. The captain was forced to burn the ship. The British offered a pardon to any pirate that surrendered. North escaped to Madagascar in a longboat. He struck out on his own for the next few years and eventually retired in 1709 in Ambonacoula, which is at the southern most tip of Madagascar, around where the lines “Every betrayed us all” appear in the trailer. There he traded and acquired slaves. During a native conflict he was captured and killed by one of the sides. Nathaniel North may end up having nothing to do with the story of the new Uncharted, but the history, locations and themes are too close to the voice over and of Libertalia to ignore.
Looks like Uncharted is taking a leaf out of Assassin’s Creed IV’s book and expanding on the fun, but otherwise out of place ship section from Uncharted 3. Throw in some themes of slavery vs. freedom and the price to be paid, I’m looking forward to what it’s all about.
Can we possibly also see modern day pirates make an appearance? A teaser raises a lot of questions but hardly offers any concrete answers. But if you look into it, there’s a lot more than it meets the eyes, quiet literally, might we add.