2016 will see the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End from acclaimed Sony first-party developer Naughty Dog. The highly anticipated sequel will bring the story of treasure hunter Nathan Drake to a close, ending a saga that first began in 2007 on the PlayStation 3. The series has always been well-regarded, but after the developer released The Last of Us in 2013, a game that took home over two hundred Game of the Year awards, expectations from Naughty Dog are at an all-time high.
Unfortunately, the development cycle for Uncharted 4 hasn't been running as smoothly as fans would like. Troubles first became apparent early in 2014, with the departure of series writer and creative director Amy Hennig and game director Justin Richmond from Naughty Dog. The two were replaced by Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the game directors behind The Last of Us, but soon some of the announced voice talent also exited the project. While the development cycle seemed to get back on track after that, the game was hit by two separate delays, moving its release date back from winter 2015 to April of 2016.
It was announced today on the PlayStation Blog that Uncharted 4 was experiencing another small delay. Citing the need for extra manufacturing time, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America Shawn Layden announced the new worldwide release date for the game was May 10th, 2016. Layden stated:
"In an effort to meet the considerable worldwide demand... we have chosen to postpone the launch of the game by two weeks to allow for extra manufacturing time... We know this news might be disappointing, and we are sorry to have to make you wait a little longer to play Naughty Dog's latest. The good news is that the game is phenomenal - we are fully confident that it will be worth the wait and the team at Naughty Dog is eager as ever for you to experience Nathan Drake's final adventure."
Layden also notes in the post that the game is still on track to go gold later this month, meaning the development cycle is complete and mass production of the game can begin. Whether that turns out to be the case is unknown, but a delay of only two weeks seems to indicate Sony is confident the developer will complete the game on schedule. Couple that with the fact that Naughty Dog is launching a multiplayer stress test this weekend, open to every PS4 owner, and it seems as though development is progressing as it should be.
It was recently confirmed that after Hennig and Richmond left the project, the original script was thrown out, leaving Druckmann and Straley to start building the final story from scratch. Considering the development was completely overhauled, it's not surprising that the talented developer was unable to complete the game by the originally announced 2015 release window.
If a game needs time to deliver a better, more polished experience, it should absolutely be delayed for the benefit of the players and developer alike. However, this does mark the third delay for Uncharted 4, despite the developer's confidence that it wouldn't be delayed past March of 2016. It's unfortunate, as multiple small delays can feel more frustrating than a single, longer delay. It may not be enough to incite players to cancel their pre-orders, but it does sap at the goodwill the developer has consistently built over the last two console generations.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End launches worldwide on May 10th, 2016, exclusively on PlayStation 4.