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PAX Special – Interview with Arne Meyer (Naughty Dog)

PAX Special – Interview with Arne Meyer (Naughty Dog)

PAX Australia 2015 saw the arrival of Sony with their first booth at the local event. Naturally, the third big player in the console market arriving was a fairly big deal, and fortunately Sony didn’t disappoint. Alongside their Playstation VR hardware was the arrival of the beta of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s multiplayer.

This was the first time the multiplayer was available to play in Australia. Don’t fret if you missed out though as the beta will launch on December 4 for those who purchased Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PS4. For those who need something to play said collection on, well, save your pennies as Sony is auctioning off a signed limited edition 20th Anniversary PS4 console with all proceeds going to the Sony Foundation charity YouCan – a charity set up by Sony to help set up centres around Australia that specialise in caring for youth with cancer.

We were lucky to sit down with Naughty Dog Director of Communications Arne Meyer at PAX Australia 2015 and find out what we can expect from the next instalment of Nathan Drake’s adventures.

Not interested in reading? You can listen to the audio here

Screenshot-Uncharted4 (1)

Andrew Peirce: You’ve just been from Paris games week I understand?

Arne Meyer: Yes.

AP: I’ve watched the videos and it looked pretty exciting. How was that?

AM: It was really great. It was very exciting. It was a really big. Debuting multiplayer there for the first time, was a little bit nerve wracking for us because we wanted to make sure everything worked, we wanted to make sure our fans were excited for it. I think it all went over really well.

AP: I watched the trailer for the multiplayer for Uncharted and it looks fantastic. What can we expect from Uncharted 4?

AM: A lot of things. The main things you can expect from Uncharted 4, is that whilst staying very true to the Uncharted roots about being this fun over-the-top action adventure game we’re finding a way of dialling it to eleven and really sort of outdo ourselves, and being able to layer in gameplay elements that we haven’t been able to before so we’re considering this basically the ultimate Uncharted game. We’re able to make the game, both with single player and multiplayer, that we always wanted to make in the Uncharted universe.

Screenshot-Uncharted4 (5)

AP: Definitely, I got that impression from the trailer. It looks intense. It looks exciting. For players who played the multiplayer quite a lot – I’ve got a few friends where it’s all they played on Playstation 3, they loved it quite a lot – what can they expect that they wouldn’t have been able to get on Playstation 3 that they would get on Playstation 4?

AM: There’s a couple of things. One is that we’re really able to layer a lot of our gameplay mechanics, and so a lot of the things that you’re seeing with what we’re revealing in Uncharted 4 in terms of being able to be on a rope and have that sort of mechanic and introduce a lot more verticality with player choice in environments – you’re seeing that with multiplayer. I think it’s expanded for what we’ve done for Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3 multiplayer. We’ve actually added in a new feature, so if your friends have ever played The Last of Us multiplayer, there’s a downed state so you’re not immediately dead. You can produce that here to provide more teamwork and to really have more collaboration with how you’re playing so you have the opportunity to do that and I think it changes things up more tactically.

We’ve introduced something I’m really excited about is, we’ve looked back at all three of the games – the supernatural elements that are in all three of the games are featured here, so you can pop the statue of El Dorado so it takes down enemies health over time and forces them to scatter. You can use the Cintamani Stone to revive your teammates to basically give yourself a little bit of immortality. You can also use the power of the Gin and be able to teleport quickly around the maps and use it to both jump into a combat situation or escape from one really well. I think there are some awesome features that we weren’t able to do with the first two multiplayer iterations

Screenshot-Uncharted4 (4)

AP: That really looks really exciting. I’m looking forward to getting into that because that looks like it adds, as you were saying, a whole new level. It looks thrilling.

AM: Not to sound cliché, but it is a game changer when you’re able to use those when you’re in a game.

AP: It certainly does look like that. I imagine that we’re probably going to get free for all kind of gameplay, what other sort of modes can we expect as well?

AM: So we haven’t really talked about the modes, but there will be a variety of modes. We’re launching with eight new maps, so it will be specific to Uncharted 4 as well. We’ll be talking a little bit more about it. We’ve got a beta running at the beginning of December. From December 4 to December 14th. Just before then, we’ll end up talking a lot more about what’s in the beta and we’ll go really in depth with what’s in multiplayer. We have a huge multiplayer package planned.

Screenshot-Uncharted4 (3)

AP: I’m looking forward to. With the single player, Uncharted has always been about those explosive set pieces, those big moments, what sort of things are we looking forward to with the single player? No spoilers of course!

AM: I think the funny thing is that everyone looked at the gameplay footage we released at E3, and everyone was like ‘oh my God, this looks great, it’s over the top’, but if you really break it down, a lot of the things we are trying to do with Uncharted 4 and really push the gameplay forward and try to push the over the top set pieces forward – they’re all in that gameplay sequence, in just tiny little bit of glimpses. So it’s really great little bit of a slice of what you can expect all through there. So I would encourage you to like actually go through the video and dissect it a little bit, see what you may or may not have seen in previous Uncharted games and say, ok, imagine that there’s going to be a whole game that explores all of these things.

AP: I definitely will for sure. The title is A Thief’s End, is this it?

AM: Well, we are saying that this is the final chapter for Drake for us, but we’ve always had subtle meanings behind all of our subtitles. We want to say, just because we’re saying that about Drake, doesn’t necessarily mean that, because there are a lot of thieves in this game. There’s Henry Avery. There’s Drake obviously. There’s Sam. There are his antagonists. Rafe and Nadine are also thieves as well. So there’s a lot of thieves that are coming into play here. Sully’s one, as well. So, you have to see that really that there’s a lot of options of who might or might not meet an end.

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AP: It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it. Certainly, visually it looks great, you seem to have really pushed the PS4 to its limits. Was that a difficult step from the PS3 to the PS4, or were you quite comfortable with the transition?

AM: It was a lot better than previous generations for sure. We had a leg up because we did The Last of Us: Remastered in house, so it basically gave us – usually what happens at every console generation is that you’re trying to develop an engine of technology and a game at the same time. You’re trying to figure out how the game works, and if somethings broken you may not have that vision, but we were really fortunate that we had a game that was complete, so we knew if something’s broken, what’s broken and how to fix it because we had a game to compare it to. So it actually gave us a leg up in terms of working on the PS4 that way, because we were able to say, alright, well, we have a game that’s working, let’s toss it in, what’s broken, let’s fix this, what can we make better. It was basically a nice little cheat, a step forward for us. It’s not entirely without pain and challenges but it definitely gave us a leg in terms of what our starting point was.

AP: Sure, now, obviously, you’re here to talk about Uncharted, but The Last of Us, is that all we’re going to see from it? Is there going to be more?

AM: Well, we can say that, it was definitely something we were exploring for a while. With every game we usually have a pre-production team that explores different game ideas. One of them was we were exploring more games in The Last of Us universe. We were also exploring other things. You never know where inspiration can come from. Unfortunately, that pre-production team has now been swallowed into development with Uncharted 4, so all of that works kind of been set aside for a little bit. We’ll revisit it once everyone’s got a little bit more free time and we’ll figure it out.

I was talking, actually, with someone a few weeks ago about that, and it was interesting, as we have a lot of fans who feel that The Last of Us ended really well.


AP: I felt it ended greatly.

AM: So, that’s the thing, there is that question – is there another story to tell, because, we had such a satisfying ending. Do we keep going? We haven’t actually answered that question for ourselves yet. So, once we’re able to do that, we can figure whether there is more to tell in that universe or not.

AP: I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what happens in the next Uncharted, and looking forward to seeing potential stories in The Last of Us in the future. I really appreciate you talking to Another Dungeon. Thanks for coming to Australia.

AM: Thanks for coming out. I appreciate being here.

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Opening Music by Juliano Zucarelli
Closing music is “Caught up in Garden Warfare”  by J.T. Machinima

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Andrew was nameless for the first week of his life. His parents were too busy trying to figure out the character creation model that they forgot to name him. Unfortunately, they molded him into a bearded film loving idiot who runs The Last New Wave and AB Film Review with his wife as well as talks about games every so often. Sometimes he knows stuff, most of the time he’s an idiot.

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