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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Secret You Probably Didn't Know About

Playing the Uncharted series has always been a bit like immersing yourself in a classic action-adventure film, thanks to its cinematic feel and familiar storytelling tropes. As in the movies it's inspired by, its everyman hero Nathan Drake seems impervious to bullets and extreme pain. Plus, all the enemies around him seem to have just terrible aim, or maybe ineffective bullets, or both.


An unrealistic health system isn't particularly novel in video games, so this hasn't exactly caused people to enjoy the games less. Uncharted 4, the last game in the franchise to be released, won a BAFTA Game of the Year award in 2017. And that was just one of its many accolades: It is still considered by many to be one of the best games of 2016. But still, people did notice that system. What they didn't notice, until recently, was why Drake appeared to be so invulnerable.

It turns out this wasn't some glitch or weirdness that Naughty Dog — normally a very detail-oriented developer — missed. It's very much a part of the vision of the series and it's a secret you probably didn't know.

Drake doesn't take damage, his luck just runs out

The real reason Drake's health system seems so unrealistic is simple — that red ring around the screen you're viewing doesn't show his health is low. Actually, it's his luck that's waning. The detail was first revealed by Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper in a 2018 tweet. He said, "Side-note I learned on joining the team: Drake doesn't ever take bullet damage. The red UI that shows 'hits' is to represent his 'luck' running out. Eventually enemies will get a clear shot and kill him if he takes enough near-misses."


Amy Hennig, former Naughty Dog creative director, confirmed this little tidbit in a reply to Cooper's tweet. She noted that the original intention of that move was to emulate the "spirit and tone" of the movies they were paying homage to.

This makes a lot of sense to anyone who's seen films featuring Indiana Jones, James Bond, and other swashbuckling protagonists of an earlier, more heroic age. And one might argue that it's also quite fitting, even though Drake engages in a heck of a lot of killing. The revelation adds a lighter, tonally appropriate element to the game — and makes the Uncharted series seem that much cooler.