Nathan Drake (character)
Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
|First game||Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007)|
|Created by||Amy Hennig|
|Voiced by||Nolan North|
|Motion capture||Nolan North|
Nathan "Nate" Drake is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Uncharted video game series, developed by Naughty Dog. He appears in all four games: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, and the upcoming Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. He also appears in Uncharted: Golden Abyss and the motion comic prequel series Uncharted: Eye of Indra. He is played by actor Nolan North, who influenced Drake's personality by ad-libbing segments of the character's dialogue.
Naughty Dog based Drake's appearance and personality on daredevil Johnny Knoxville, actor Harrison Ford, and the heroes of pulp magazines, novels and films. To make him relatable, the character was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and given an everyman persona; he is strong-willed, and often jokes and quips. The designers focused on giving him realistic reactions to his environment; for example, he stumbles while running, barely clears objects during leaps, and recognizes the absurdity of the situations in which he finds himself.
His design and personality have drawn comparisons to other video game and film characters, such as Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. Many reviewers have called Drake a likable and believable character, and have noted that he is a rare example of a physically attractive character who is not over-masculinized.
Illustrator and designer Kory Heinzen worked on pre-visualization, concept and character design on the video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, developed by Naughty Dog. Heinzen's initial concept differed from the finished character. The production staff drew inspiration from the pulp adventure genre when creating the video games in the Uncharted series, and based Drake on the stereotypical characters of adventure films and novels, giving him wit, resourcefulness, and strong principles. Naughty Dog wanted to highlight Drake's personality through his interactions with the environment during gameplay. To do this, they developed a wide range of animations for Drake, allowing him to display reactions and his snarky disposition in context. These animations were designed to be fluid and believable; they removed any animation that did not promote this fluidity or took a large amount of time to execute. The blended animation system in the game, with more than 30 animations comprising one movement, was implemented to make Drake a more relatable character.
The Naughty Dog staff looked to several sources in creating Drake. His appearance and charisma were based on actor and daredevil Johnny Knoxville. Lead game designer Richard Lemarchand wanted Drake to reflect the "coolness and goodness" he saw in Knoxville. Series writer Amy Hennig described Drake as a gritty, charming mixture of actors Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis, with additional influence coming from romantic action-adventure heroes, including Cary Grant:
... we even went back to the earliest movie serials, movies from the '30s and the '50s, and the more recent revivals of the action-adventure genre in the '80s, and even recently with movies like National Treasure. There are certain traits that a lot of those characters have in common – that irreverent, roguish sense of humor, that charm.
Lemarchand listed comic characters Doc Savage and Tintin, as well as Die Hard protagonist John McClane, as inspirations for the character. Drake's physical prowess was modeled on that of Savage, and his personality inspired by the vibrant color and globetrotting identity of Tintin.
Naughty Dog wanted Drake to embody the everyman archetype. E. Daniel Arey, former Naughty Dog creative director, stated that "there is a fine line between jerk and lovable rogue", and that they developed Drake to be more human and accessible. "If a hero constantly shows their human side," said Arey, "we relate and forgive any seeming overconfidence because we’ve all been there." Neil Druckmann, lead designer of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, explained that Drake was meant to react to situations in the manner that the average player might. Hennig commented:
... when we set out to do Uncharted, we decided we wanted to tackle one of these beloved action-adventure games in the spirit of this whole tradition. We knew that in order to pull it off, we had to have a hero who was completely relatable, just a regular guy. So when people saw him and said "Why do I want to play a guy in t-shirt and jeans" that was a deliberate move on our part, to say look, he's just a guy. He's just like you and me.
Josh Scherr, leader of the Drake's Fortune story sequence team, said that they created Drake as an "ordinary guy" with no special powers. Instead, Drake became visibly nervous at times, barely cleared objects while jumping, and stumbled while running. The characterizations were meant to show Drake as a frail character. He is not a master of hand-to-hand combat, and throws punches without style or skill. Sam Thompson, producer of Among Thieves, described Drake's martial arts abilities as "fallible." Sony Entertainment of America line producer Sam Thompson mused that Naughty Dog had created iconic characters before, including Crash Bandicoot. With Nathan Drake, however, the company wanted to produce a more average character, one who did not possess the same amount of confidence and who was more realistic and humble.
Nolan North, the voice actor who played Drake, had a large role in defining the character's physical and vocal reactions. In the Uncharted series, the actors were used for motion capture, and acted as if performing in a movie. Motion capture was done on a soundstage, and the dialog recorded during this process was used in the game. North was allowed to ad-lib dialog and insert aspects of his own personality into the character. In naming the character, the development team considered many different choices, including Ethan, Samuel, and John. Matthew Drake was seriously contemplated, but received a poor reaction from those it was presented to. Eventually, Naughty Dog settled on the name Nathan for its ability to be shortened to Nate, and the perception that it sounded historical. Drake's character design changed little between Drake's Fortune and Among Thieves.
Drake has a distinct personality, as the creators did not want him to appear as a caricature or "cardboard cutout". Hennig constantly elaborated Drake's personality through in-game dialogue and interactions with other characters, rather than exclusively through cutaway scenes. Drake reacts to events in a human-like way, often commenting and complaining on the absurdity or difficulty of his situation. While traveling through chapters, Drake frequently makes sarcastic quips and taunts. Self-educated in history and various languages, Drake is also highly intelligent. Matt Casamassina of IGN commented on the character's interactions during gameplay that reveal Drake's nature: "it's lighthearted and amusing, but it also demonstrates that Nate is aware of how absurd his predicaments sometimes are. It's a small, unimportant communication, but it makes sense that the two would behave exactly as they do."
Drake says what he is thinking aloud, a feature designed to correlate with the likely thoughts and reactions of the player. Amy Hennig called Drake a "Die Hard guy that gets in there and just takes care of the situation; 'the fly in the ointment'." Drake's voice actor North was instructed to imbue his own personality into the character.
Drake's outward appearance is fairly generic, consisting of a simple white shirt and blue jeans and a gun holster on his back in the first game, and a brown henley in the second. He was deliberately costumed in a simple shirt and jeans to provide a "blank slate" on which the everyman persona could be imposed. The programmers designed a layered-animation system to make Drake's motions realistic by blending multiple poses and reactions together. This allowed a complex facial and wrinkle mapping system, which provided Drake more human emotional reactions. Drake's physique is fairly fit, but not overly muscular. Drake's appearance underwent minor changes in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Hennig stated that Drake was skinnier than intended in the first game, and thus the designers bulked him up for the second.
Drake's shirt is always tucked into his pants on only one side, an attribute which commentators have labeled the "half-tuck". The term, first coined by video game designer Tim Schafer, led to Naughty Dog altering Drake's appearance to have his shirt almost tucked in from the front, and half tucked in at the back, an inside joke Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells labeled a "three-quarters-tuck." The half-tuck was part of a larger effort to ensure Drake's design was asymmetrical. Tim Schafer commented "It was all super next-gen, but the most next-gen thing about it to me was Drake's shirt. Check it out: Somehow it's tucked in, and yet not tucked in, at the very same time. Of all the technical marvels contained in Uncharted, this was the one that really mystified me."
In the 2007 video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Drake tracks a treasure located on a remote tropical island. As the game opens, Drake, accompanied by reporter Elena Fisher, recovers the coffin of his ancestor Sir Francis Drake, which he located from coordinates inscribed on a family heirloom: a ring Drake wears around his neck. The coffin contains Sir Francis Drake's diary, which gives the location of El Dorado. Pirates attack and destroy Drake's boat, but Drake's friend Victor Sullivan rescues the two. When Sully and Drake follow the diary to the indicated spot, they learn that El Dorado is a large golden idol that the Spanish had tried to remove from the island centuries ago. After finding a U-boat, mercenaries led by Gabriel Roman intercept Drake, Fisher and Sully. Sully is shot but Drake manages to escape to an island where Sir Francis Drake's diary claims the idol is located. On the way to the island, anti-aircraft fire forces Elena and Drake to bail out of the airplane and they are separated. Drake heads toward an old Spanish fort to find Elena. Though briefly captured, Drake and Elena reunite and flee to the old customs house on the island. There they find that Sully has survived his gunshot wound. Drake discovers that the idol is located near the custom house, and finds and rescues Sully. Drake realizes that the idol is cursed, and that it turned the Spanish and Kriegsmarine searching for it into zombified monsters. Drake attempts to stop Roman from removing the idol from the island, and arrives in time to see Atoq Navarro, a man hired by Roman, find the statue. Navarro tricks Roman into becoming cursed. Drake then jumps onto the statue and rides it as it is airlifted onto a boat in the bay. There he defeats Navarro and manages to sink the idol to the bottom of the ocean. Sully arrives and Elena and Drake leave the island with several chests of treasure, after displaying affection towards each other.
Drake returns as the protagonist of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in 2009. A wealthy benefactor hires Drake, Harry Flynn, and Chloe Frazer to steal a small lamp from a Turkish museum. Drake and Chloe, having dated in the past, renew their romance behind Flynn's back. Once in the museum, Flynn betrays Drake and Drake is imprisoned. Drake theorizes that the true goal of the theft was to discover the location of Marco Polo's lost fleet. Flynn brings the information obtained from resin found in the lamp to his employer, war criminal Zoran Lazarevic, who seeks the Cintamani Stone that the fleet was supposedly transporting. Once Chloe and Sully secure Drake's release, Drake follows Lazarevic, and discovers that the fleet did not possess the stone, but had clues to the location of Shambhala. Drake travels to Nepal to find the next clue, although Lazarevic has initiated a civil war in the region in order to find the temple containing the clue. In the city, he finds Elena and her cameraman Jeff, the latter of which is executed by Lazarevic. Drake pursues Lazarevic and then discovers the key to Shambhala, but the train they are traveling on explodes, leaving Drake stranded. Drake loses consciousness after finding the key (a Kīla) and awakens in a Tibetan village. Here, he finds Karl Schäfer, an SS officer who had led an Ahnenerbe expedition to Shambhala, though he had killed them all to stop the Nazis from obtaining the power in the city. Tenzin, a man who speaks no English, leads Drake through an ice cave, where they are attacked by giant horned monsters. Lazaravic attacks the village, kidnapping Schäfer. Drake and Elena track Lazaravic to a monastery, where they find the entrance to Shambhala. Once inside, they discover that the monsters are guardians of the city. Drake and Elena are apprehended by Lazaravic but escape him when the guardians attack. Drake confronts Lazaravic at the Tree of Life, the sap of which comprises the Cintamani stone. Drake wounds Lazaravic, leaving the guardians to kill him, and returns to the village, where he and Elena kiss and begin a relationship.
2011's third installment of the franchise, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, has Drake searching for the lost city of Iram of the Pillars, located in the Rub' al Khali Desert. During the gap between the two games, Drake and Elena married, but then became estranged and are now separated. It is revealed in this game that Drake's past is more mysterious than the player is led to believe. It eventually transpires that Drake is not his real last name (his real name is not revealed) and he was raised in a Catholic orphanage from the age of five. His mother committed suicide and his father handed the child over to the state. He ran away from the orphanage and travelled to Colombia, where, at the age of 14, he acquired Francis Drake's ring (which he has referred to as a family heirloom in the first game) by stealing it from a museum. This led to him teaming up with Victor Sullivan for the first time. With the assistance of Sully, Chloe, and Charlie Cutter, Nate steals valuable historical clues from a mysterious organization led by Katherine Marlowe and her assistant Talbot. They travel to France and Syria where they find clues leading them to Yemen, where Drake reluctantly enlists the help of Elena. They find a celestial map that shows the location of Iram. However, Sully is kidnapped by Marlowe and Talbot, prompting Drake to save him by boarding one of Marlowe's cargo planes. The plane crashes in the Rub' al Khali after a shoot-out ensues but Drake survives. After wandering the desert for days, a group of horsemen, led by Salim, rescue Drake and take him back to their encampment. Salim explains to Drake they must stop Marlowe and Talbot from reaching the lost city so they will not get their hands on the hallucinogenic power of the Djinn. Drake and Salim rescue Sully from Marlowe's caravan and reach the city. Drake and Sully destroy the winch pulling the brass vessel containing the Djinn from the waters causing the whole city to collapse. Marlowe is killed in quicksand and Drake shoots Talbot before he can stab Sully. Drake and Sully escape the sinking city and reunite with Elena back at Yemen. Drake and Elena appear to resolve their marriage and they fly back home on their new sea plane.
The fourth entry in the Uncharted series, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, was showcased at E3 2014, during Sony's press conference. A trailer features a wounded Drake washing ashore an island. He rises, grabs his gun, and checks its ammo before walking into a jungle-like area, as the camera pans to show hanging cages with skeletons inside. The trailer also features a conversation between Drake and Sully, where Drake asks for Sully's help, having seemingly just laid out a plan. Sully warns Nate against it, but Nate responds that he has no choice, and asks if he can count on Sully one last time, who confirms that he can. A Thief's End will take place three years after the events of Drake's Deception. Drake has retired from fortune hunting, and is seemingly still married to Elena, as he still wears his ring in the trailer. The game will also introduce Sam Drake, Nate's estranged older brother, voiced by Troy Baker.
Drake stars in 2012's Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which is released on Sony's PlayStation Vita. The game's events take place sometime before those of Drake's Fortune, though developers have stated that it is not a prequel to Drake's Fortune but rather a separate original story.
Drake is a playable character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Nathan's rival in the game is Sly Cooper, the reason being that Drake found pages of Sly's book the Thievius Racoonus and at the start of his storyline was on a desert island with Sully similar to that found on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. When Drake reaches the boss arena, he starts to decipher the pages of the Thievius Racoonus, then Sly appears and explains he's the rightful owner of the pages that Nathan possesses. Drake refuses and Sly mocks his abilities in an attempt to intimidate him, as a result Drake responds insultingly and the two battle. After defeating the boss in the game, Nathan returns to the same island as before and using the All-Star Power he obtained from the boss, he greatly enhanced Sully's plane, as the screen turns to black, Drake randomly says 'I punched a chicken'.
In other media
Uncharted: Eye of Indra is a 2009 prequel series of motion comics. Their events occur before the first game, but the series was released after the second. In order to raise the money to find Sir Francis Drake's coffin, Nathan Drake works for an American turned Indonesian crime boss named Daniel Pinkerton. Drake seeks the fabled Eye of Indra in India, where he meets Eddy Raja – who appears in the first game – and Drake becomes romantically involved with Raja's sister, Rika Raja.
Merchandise and promotion
In 2007, Sony placed promotional material in Empire stressing Drake's everyman personality and showcasing his similarity to adventure film characters. Naughty Dog released an airsoft replica of Nathan Drake's gun, a Beretta 92FS.
Shortly before the 2009 release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, four urban vinyl toys based on Nathan Drake were released. Erick Scarecrow, founder of ESC Toys, designed the dolls in a number of colors; only 2500 were released worldwide. Reviewers were not enthusiastic about the design, and Luke Plunkett of Kotaku commented, "while none of them have names, it appears there's Drake, Hellboy Drake, Berlin Nightclub Drake and Radioactive Drake."
Nathan Drake has attracted mainly positive reviews, many focusing on his likability. Tom Cross of Gamasutra called Drake a "lovable jerk" who is "light, flippant, and just plain fun", calling him a perfect caricature of a scoundrel. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku remarked that: "the short take is that Nathan Drake has attitude without being a jerk, and he cheerfully but woefully gets in over his head. This helps make him charming rather than annoying." Comparing Drake to a similar character, Matt Casamassina at IGN claimed: "Nathan Drake, the hero in Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2, is more realistic, funny, charming, likable and altogether human in 30 minutes than Leon S. Kennedy is through an entire career of Resident Evil games." Rush Frushtick at UGO admitted that Drake may appear to be "a dick", but that he was "a likable dick". GamesRadar listed Nathan as one of the 25 best new characters of the decade, contrasting him with characters like Halo protagonist Master Chief and Marcus Fenix of the Gears of War series in that unlike them, Drake is never in control of the situation. Empire also included Drake on their list of the 50 greatest video game characters, ranking him as 22nd. Nathan Drake is also seen as a PlayStation mascot.
Commenting on Drake's "everyman" persona, Tom Hoggins of the Daily Telegraph called the character's vulnerability "endearing", while Chad Sapieha of The Globe and Mail labeled him "one of the most expressive video game characters ever created." However, Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica criticized the "everyman" persona, stating that Drake was like numerous other characters, and lacked individuality. Develop's Owain Bennallack further criticized Drake's blandness, doubting whether a player could adequately describe him as a character. Dan Hsu of Bitmob wrote that, though other characters like Master Chief may stand out more, Drake came across as an "old pal".
Drake's physical attractiveness has been another area of commentary, with at least one reviewer declaring a man crush for him. Drake has been described as "dreamy", and a "handsome, charismatic hero." Claudia Black, voice of Chloe Frazer from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, admitted having a crush on Drake as well. Drake has been cited as an example of a male character who, while attractive, is not over-masculine. One commentator pointed out: "Very few of our protagonists (Nathan Drake and Alan Wake to name a few exceptions) depict men in what I would call a non-degrading manner." Steve McGarvey of GameSpy wrote that Drake was: "hardly oozing with machismo compared to the likes of most gaming protagonists". Drake's attractiveness drew criticism from Meagan Marie of Game Informer, who stated that he did not: "stand out much among the crowd of other ideally proportioned and intentionally unblemished gaming icons." GameDaily named Drake the third greatest gaming hunk. GamesRadar named Drake "Mister 2007", stating that he was not picked just because they could "stare at his ass for hours on end", but because he is heroic and has a "winning attitude". In 2014, La Nueva España included him the top ten sexiest video game characters of both genders.
The good sales of the Uncharted series and the growing identification of Drake with the PlayStation 3 console have led some to claim he is now a de facto mascot for the PlayStation 3. Adam Hartley at TechRadar UK claimed, that: "throaty-voiced protagonist Nathan Drake is the rightful heir to the 'PlayStation Hero' crown", while Now Gamer claimed Drake as the new PlayStation 3 poster boy. Drake was nominated for the "Most Compelling Character" award at the 2009 Inside Gaming Awards.
Comparisons to other characters
Nathan Drake has been compared to several other video game and film characters, most notably video game adventurer Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise and film character Indiana Jones, due to the similarities between the characters and the narratives they appear in. Johnny Minkley of Eurogamer and Lee Ferran of ABC News called these associations "obvious" and "unavoidable". In fact, Drake has been called a mixture of the two characters. Drake was hailed as the "new Lara Croft" after the Uncharted series sold well, and his similarity to Croft has earned him the moniker "bloke-" or "dude-raider". Michael Owen-Brown of the The Advertiser remarked that Drake distinguished himself from Croft with his wit, while director of the Uncharted series Bruce Straley claimed that Drake had equaled Croft in popularity. CBS drew a strict distinction between Indiana Jones and Drake, pointing out that while Jones acts altruistically, Drake is in it for the profits. Avi Arad, producer of a planned Uncharted film, drew a similar conclusion, remarking that while Jones was always good, Drake is not necessarily the good guy. Designer Neil Druckmann stated that he believes Drake stands apart from Jones and Croft. Other reviewers have compared Drake to different characters, including Jack Colton from the film Romancing the Stone. North, who plays Drake, also voices The Prince in the 2008 video game Prince of Persia, and comparisons have been made between the two characters. The Prince has been described as a rougher, more abrasive form of Nathan Drake.
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- Nathan: UK2642... you got that? [...] It's Kriegsmarine coordinates. I think I know where the Spanish took El Dorado. [...] The problem is, so do the bastards who killed Sully. Damn it! If the Spanish found the treasure, they had to've moved it there, to that island. And Drake followed 'em. Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Elena: He's alive. Nathan: Huh. Elena: I don't know, Nate... I mean, how much do you trust this guy? It's not exactly like they're holding him at gunpoint. Nathan: I know. Yeah, it seems weird. But no. Sully's a lot of things, but he's not a back-stabber. Which way were they headed? Elena: Uh... North-ish. Yeah, towards the mountains. Nathan: Okay, it's gotta be the monastery. Let's go. Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Nathan: We gotta stop 'em, Sully. They don't know what they're dealing with! Sully: What are you -? Nathan: I don't know how, but that statue destroyed the whole colony, and it killed the Germans too. [...] Sully: You wanna tell me what the hell's going on!? Nathan: Drake didn't want to get the treasure off the island, Sully. He was trying to stop it from leaving! Sully: What? Nathan: It's cursed or something. Sully: Oh, Nate, for God's sake... Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Nathan: Navarro, that thing wiped out an entire colony. You don't know what you're doing. Navarro: Wrong. I'm the only person on this island who knows what the hell he's doing! [...] You are so pathetic, all of you scrambling around for your petty treasures. Do you have any idea what this is worth, to the right buyer? Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Nathan: Elena! Oh God... Elena. C'mon. Can you stand? Elena: I'm okay... I'm okay. Nathan: Are you all right? Elena: Oh – Nate! Nathan turns to see Navarro standing up. Nathan: Watch out. Nathan pushes the helicopter off the side of the platform. Nathan: Adios, asshole. Navarro: Huh? The rope connecting the statue and the helicopter is tangled in his legs and drags him across the floor and into the sea. Elena: Oh my – Sully's boat arrives, and they wave to him. Elena: Oh... Quite a day. Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Nathan: Sorry you didn't get your story. Elena: Ah, that's all right. There'll be other stories. You still owe me one. Nathan: I'm good for it. Naughty Dog (19 November 2007). "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment.
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