In big news, Sony have released a teaser trailer for Uncharted on PS4. Didn’t see that one coming.
Here I make a quick first analysis from what’s visible in the trailer.
From what I can glean, it looks like we may be treated to a prequel (of sorts) this time around. The route that the video follows from South Africa around to Madagascar is also a section that Sir Francis Drake covered during his circumnavigation of the globe (though in reverse), and as we all know, Nathan Drake – the Uncharted series’ beloved protagonist – is a descendant of Sir Francis himself.
The phrase that can be seen 40 seconds in to the video, “For God and Liberty”, is what makes the whole thing interesting to me. It was the motto of a place called “Libertatia” – a pirate utopia based on Madagascar during the late 17th century, which conveniently is the last location we get to see in the trailer. Seems a little too good to be a coincidence? Did Sir Francis Drake sail past and run in to some trouble here? The problem here is that Libertatia is not known whether to have actually existed or not. It was described in the book A General History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson – though he is also thought to be a possible pseudonym for Daniel Defoe, the legendary author of Robinson Crusoe. Also, Sir Francis died in 1596, roughly 100 years prior to these events, but ultimately this shouldn’t be a barrier to the Naughty Dog team, what with Drake already having ventured to El Dorado and Shambhala in previous games, and their general artistic liberty when it comes to historical accuracy and truth.
Additionally, also at the 40 second mark, there’s the latin phrase “Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso”, which, when translated, means “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” This is quite a significant phrase firstly for religious reasons, as in Luke 23:43, Jesus is to have said “I Tell You The Truth, Today You Will Be with Me In Paradise.” This was actually one of the phrases from the “7 Last Words Of Christ”, which Jesus spoke to the criminals with whom he was crucified.
I’ll get back to that in a second.
The pirates on Libertatia were led by Captain James Misson, a pirate who lost his faith due to witnessing the lavish self-indulgence of the Papal Court. While in Rome, he did however meet a Priest named Caraccioli, who converted both Misson and his crew back to his way of thinking. An interesting excerpt from Wikipedia:
“Off the west coast of Africa they captured a Dutch slave ship. The slaves were freed and brought aboard the Victoire, Misson declaring that “the Trading for those of our own Species, cou’d never be agreeable to the Eyes of divine Justice: That no Man had Power of Liberty of another”.
So it seems that although Misson wasn’t fussed about the concept of piracy, he had a strong sense of liberty for all men, going so far as to bring other slaves and captured enemies in to his own ranks. To pull my ramblings together, I’d say it’s possible that Misson and his crew used the emblem of the Jolly Roger with the Latin phrase around it to, like Jesus, welcome any lost souls to his personal paradise – Libertatia, a place of equality and liberty for all men. Money was shared amongst everyone, they invented a common language, and called themselves the Liberi. For pirates, slaves, prisoners, simply all people who had no other means for a “civilized” life, this must have been a form of heaven on earth. Could Uncharted 4 have you facing off against Misson and his army of pirates, as a past member of the Drake family? (Yes please.)
For all of you sharp-eyed viewers who watched the video, you might have spotted an encrypted code briefly appear at 23 seconds in. When run through a Pigpen/Masonic cipher, you’re left with the Latin phrase “Memento Mori”, literally, “Remember that you will die”. The cipher itself is strongly associated with the Freemason movement, so it’s fair to say that there may be some sort of connection to the Masons in the game. The link above to the Pigpen cipher Wikipedia page, also notes that a cipher which translates over to “Remember Death” (so effectively also Memento Mori), is present on one of the earliest stones in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City, which opened in 1697. Conveniently in the same year, Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd is rumoured to have visited Libertatia to undertake repairs to his ship, and is said to have lost half his crew to the colony. If I was on the Naughty Dog team, these dates lining up would be too much to resist. (Unfortunately though, I’m not.)
Backing up a little though, back to the mysterious voice in the trailer (whom Sony have already confirmed to be TV actor Todd Stashwick, who will feature as a character within the game). If you’re not able to watch, it says:
“Some chains can never be broken. I lost 15 years. Buried alive. Erased. You left me rotting in that hell hole and never looked back. But you can’t outrun the past, and when it catches up, when all your lies collapse around you, I’ll be there sifting through the wreckage. You owe me.”
Could it be that this is Misson, speaking directly to Sir Francis Drake? Drake already proved he wasn’t one to mess with when he personally had (his once-friend) Thomas Doughty tried and executed for witchcraft, mutiny and treason. This one’s a long shot really, but it’s possible that the voice may even be Doughty himself – maybe he survived execution and lived in a form of exile for 15 years, and is now back for some sweet revenge?
To go off in a slightly different direction, there is one more character who fits the bill perfectly. Thomas Drury was an English sailor on the Degrave, which, on the way to the Cape of Good Hope, ran aground, and the crew were forced to abandon ship. Want to have a guess where they ended up? Madagascar. Where he was trapped for 15 years. Was Drake in some way responsible for this happening? And if yes, what past will catch up, and what lies are there to collapse on him? Intrigue after intrigue.
So, did Misson and Drury team up to take on Drake? Sir Francis was quite involved in slave trading from West Africa, making him a natural enemy to Misson, and giving Misson a motive to help Drury in taking him down. Of course there’s also the possibility that the mysterious voice is the character we’ll be playing as, which would make things quite interesting indeed.
The final clue from the trailer that I’ll mention is a scrawl of text that can be seen at 27 seconds in, “Every betrayed us all”. Henry Every was an infamous pirate who lived between 1659 and 1696, so once again, the dates would work. He was known as “The King of Pirates”, and was one of the few pirate captains to retire with his treasure without being killed or captured. If this is the “Every” intended by the reference, how did he betray everyone? Did he sell out the pirates at Libertatia, or could he even be the one to whom the voice in the trailer is talking to? A short sentence from Every’s Wikipedia page does show that he may have had a somewhat tangible connection to Libertatia itself, so it’s possible he had a dispute with Misson or Drury here.
After the publication of a fictional memoir in 1709, which claimed the Every was a king ruling a pirate utopia in Madagascar, popular accounts increasingly took on a more legendary, romantic flavor.
So, will we play as Nathan Drake, Sir Francis, some combination of the two (in the form of flashbacks?), or even some other unknown character? Only time will tell, though it won’t stop us from hoping and wondering.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Of course this is just a personal interpretation/theory of mine, and it’s more than possible that I’m completely wrong and have just been sucked into feeling like Nathan Drake himself, trying to crack the secrets of the PS4 game trailer (as he does).
Let us know in the comments of your own ideas, or if you feel there’s anything I missed!