Two days ago, a new trailer dropped for Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. Containing the original three Uncharted games for PS3 ported to PS4 (although oddly not Golden Abyss, a good game in its own right), the trailer focused on the story behind the Naughty Dog-developed games, in particular highlighting the relationship between Nate and Sully:
When I first saw the trailer, I assumed that the shots from the 2007 original, subtitled Drake’s Fortune, were given little to no improvements. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that there was much more going on, certainly more than the usual 1080/60 enhancements that ports such as these usually receive. This is welcome news as Drake’s Fortune is the title that has aged the most poorly; rubbery faces, awkward mouth/teeth interaction and overly shiny leather, so anything to help bring it to parity with its sequels is most welcome.
There have been a few pictures uploaded online by keen-eyed fans comparing the graphical differences, in particular Nate’s face and hair, but I thought it would be cool and informative to break down each of the Drake’s Fortune clips that appear in the trailer. The images are 3840 x 1080, with the original on the left and the remaster on the right, so feel free to enlarge them to get a closer look.
Frames for the original PS3 release were taken from 200PoundsofBeauty’s Drake’s Fortune Movie video on YouTube. Please note that the video appears to have gained a greenish tint; I accepted this as the quality in PoB’s video is the best I could find, and I don’t have the required equipment or software to capture these frames myself.
WARNING: The article contains a shot that could be considered spoilers. If your first experience with Drake’s Fortune will be with the Collection and you care about the story, do not read any further.
Right off the bat we can see a myriad of improvements. The lighting is more refined, and there’s a ton of extra detail, such as improved barnicles on Sir Francis’ coffin. There are also more polygons on the red rail (see the rounded base), and the improved textures on the post reveal that the textures are very close to the old ones, most likely because they’re using the original textures before they were down-rezed in the final release.
Probably the most notable differences are with the boat cabin. The fire is more much more prominent, and there’s more smoke billowing out. This serves the practical purpose of highlighting the flames and making them more visible; in the original on the left you can see that the fire is incredibly hard to discern in front of the white clouds, impacting the danger and drama of the scene. You can also see nearby that two metal panels have been removed. These panels fly into the air when the cabin explodes soon after this shot, but the goof of them being visible early wasn’t fixed in the original release.
The exposure of the CG camera also appears to have been dropped a bit. You can see this by comparing the clouds; in the remastered version you can pick out a lot more details in the grey colour scale, which are more blown out by the white in the original.
The explosion of the cabin has been given a radical facelift. The original was a very large version of the explosion fireball effect used for grenades and explosive barrels, while the newer version is much more unique and Hollywood-esque. This makes one wonder if the grenade/barrel explosions have been altered as well, given that they didn’t appear at all in any of the later games.
Here you get a really good comparison of Nate’s hair, which now appears to be from either Uncharted 2 or 3, and much better than the cardboard stick-on look from the original. His facial hair is much more obvious, as is the shorter hairs of his hairline. For example, he has some ‘trailing’ hairs on his neck, and his mutton chops now fades more naturally, a vast improvement over the 90-degree geometric cut from 2007.
It’s also worth noting that the waves of the water are different. This may be a result of having to re-render the scene again; the simulated water is giving out different shapes than from last time.
The most obvious improvement here in this shot is the extra detail on the plane; the panels and rivets are much clearer, and the rust bubbling under the paint helps give signs that the seaplane is rather old. You’ll also see that Sully’s eyes are less Polar Express and more warm and welcoming, which for me plays well into the father-son relationship explored later in the third game. You may also notice some ambient occlusion with Sully’s arm on the door; this is a feature that first appeared in Uncharted 2, which was to my knowledge the first video game to implement this in a console gameplay experience.
The signs of age on the seaplane continue here; the grey weathering on the wings really help show that this is a rather old craft, suggesting that it has been flying for a long time. The ocean below is also different; the waves appear smaller, helping to sell the idea that the plane is flying very high in the sky; in the original it feels like the clouds are lower than they should be. Hopefully this carries over to the gameplay; the coastal sections had water that was quite clearly repeating itself via tiles, ruining the otherwise beautiful views.
For this shot, the most obvious addition is the lighting on Nate’s shirt. One touch that I like is the extra detailing on Nate’s jeans. This shot however also shows that Nate’s head is more rounded - likely by way of making his hair less poofy and tall - which helps him feel more in-line with his appearance in 2 and 3. There also appears to be a new cloud placed in the shot.
This shot is certainly one nobody will care that much about considering how incredibly minor it is, but in addition to the new Dewback Cloud, the trees on the island have been shuffled about a bit and given a big improvement in their appearance. The left-hand hill has more trees, and more of the face is rock this time around.
For this shot, the lighting is less dark and warmer in tone. There are more creases in Nate’s shirt, and his ring now fits with the lighting more naturally and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. For Mr. Raja, the textures are improved on his shirt, and the back of his skull is more rounded and thus more human-like.
A minor one, but for when the cell wall is yanked away, there have been grit particles added to the crumbling wall. Must be that limestone mortar!
Bridge of Doom
In this wide shot you can see that the shadows have been changed. They are much more detailed on the rubble below, particularly the flat chunk in the middle of the ‘river’. The shadows on the bridge are also much simpler and less prominent as well; this makes it easier to identify the bridge in the shot.
Here you can see more effects of the lighting change. Most of Nate is now dark, so he fits a bit better with the dark body of water behind him. The simpler lighting on the bridge also means that it’s easier to see Elena, as well as pick out the gap in the bridge of where she stepped through. Oddly, Nate’s enlarged biceps have not been shrunk down for the remaster; they were toned down in the later games and were apparently this large in the first game by accident.
As before, the simpler shadowing makes this part easier to discern; Elena’s arm is easier to pick out. Conveniently, the lighting also illuminates Nate’s hand over the shadow on the bridge, meaning that even in the frantic madness of this moment, you can still clearly parse the actions taking place (60 frames per second helps too, of course).
Sir Francis’ Corpse
The textures on Sir Francis’ clothing and armour is now much more detailed than before. Nate’s watch also has more detail; it’s less ridiculously shiny and also has visible stitching on it now.
Probably the best comparison: a side-by-side of the new Nate model, with the new one looking much more like his appearance in Uncharted 2 and 3, alongside clearer grit, blood stains and other wear and tear. You can see that his chest brace has stitching on it just like the watch, and his new hair doesn’t stick out as far as it originally did. As well, the shoulder pad of Sir Francis has been given a huge improvement now that it has more polygons, appropriate for how close to the camera it is at this angle.
El Goddamn Dorado
Probably the biggest addition to this shot is the depth of field; in the remaster the background is blurry, which in addition to the lighting helps naturally draw the eye towards the soldier and the sarcophogas. Some of the pillars also have meshes with higher polygon counts; check out the nook on the pillar on the left, up in the middle of the frame.
This shot cmae off to me as odd because it really highlighted how Drake has been redone, but Elena appears to have been left alone. In 2 and 3 the streak of hair at the front moved dynamically when it was solid in 1; so far I haven’t seen any evidence to support that this has changed.
Probably the most significant thing shown here for me is the shadows. If you look in the original you’ll notice that there are no shadows being cast from one object. In the remaster there is; the hands of Nate and Elena cast shadows onto Nate’s shirt, which helps give the feeling of how close to Nate’s chest their hands are, adding to the intimacy of the scene.
And there you have it, that’s everything I noticed! Was it interesting? Should I compare the shots from 2 and 3 to see if there’s anything new there? Let me know, and I hope you enjoyed the analysis!