The Uncharted series has always been primarily based on linear storytelling, but apparently Naughty Dog is going to shake things up with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, as mentioned by Game Directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann in an interview on Game Informer.
Straley mentioned that he doesn’t care about what the trends of the industry. He just wants to do a game that he wants to play, so Naughty Dog won’t move a bit away from linear gameplay just because that’s what is considered popular in the industry. There will be some areas that will warrant that.
Nathan Drake is an adventurer and there are going to be story moments in which he’s lost: In that case the team needs to determine how much they can widen the area to convey the sense of exploration and prompt the player to find his way around. In that situation Straley wants to be invested in the situation like Drake, and look at all that “awesome Naughty Dog art” and say “ah, this place is amazing,” as he walks around.
Druckmann added that during development there were some areas so big that they lost all sense of pacing. That’s not something they wanted to play and they did some adjustments. They’re not against linear storytelling or gameplay. There are going to be parts of the game that are going to be more linear than others. Others are going to “open up much wider” than what we’ve seen in the PlayStation Experience Demo.
According to Druckmann it all depends on what the moment is about, on how it fits in the grand scheme of things of what they’re trying to tell, and on what’s the best way to get the player to relate to that moment.