Uncharted 3‘s most memorable sequence is undoubtedly Nathan Drake’s running battle through a cargo plane in midflight. It’s peak Naughty Dog action design, steadily escalating until Drake finds himself hanging desperately from a cargo net over the desert.
Hard as it is to believe, Uncharted 3 is now 10 years old, having first released on PS3 on November 1, 2011. To mark the occasion, several of its original developers came together to share their memories of Uncharted 3’s development. They include building the cargo plane sequence, which director Kurt Margenau says was the first time in his career he had a chance to build such a setpiece.
“It was truly a collaborative effort with animators, programmers, sound designers, and anyone else who cared to contribute. It started with an off-the-cuff idea of, ‘What if you could chase down a plane on the tarmac and board it,’ which turned into, ‘Ok, what if the plane crashed while you were in it?’ and then figuring out how that could even work and be playable,” Margenau remembers.
The scene was born of Naughty Dog’s desire to keep escalating after Uncharted 2, which left the studio confident that it could “achieve whatever wild-ass blockbuster ideas we could think up to one-up ourselves.”
“I was making little models of trucks on my desk to figure out how the player could climb on these things as they’re hanging out of the back of the plane. Jeremy [Yates] was doing wire-work on the mocap stage to capture climbing on a cargo net blowing in the wind. We had to implement some old-school perfectly seamed-up infinitely scrolling backgrounds to make the desert able to move infinitely below the plane (while the plane actually stood still. shhh). We even had a fully playable zero-g sequence inside the plane that we cut at the last second!” Margenau says.
The sequence wound up being one of the best moments in Uncharted 3, and one of the best in the series overall. It wound up inspiring a similar sequence in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and a live-action version will be showcased in the upcoming Uncharted movie. Margenau called seeing the scene in the recent trailer “surreal” and expressed excitement at seeing the final version.
In the meantime, the Uncharted series remains largely dormant, as former director Amy Hennig has long since departed and Naughty Dog has moved on to other projects. However, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is currently under development for PS5, with a release date set for 2022.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN