Our perception of Nathan Drake as an adventure seeking badass with the ability to sustain an inordinately large amount of bullet wounds may be about to change. And this may not be such a bad thing as Uncharted has always required the player to look away from the factual inaccuracies of getting shot repeatedly and still being able to swing, dive, and perform increasingly impressive acrobatic feats.
Jonathan Cooper, an animator at Naughty Dog, explains that upon joining the Uncharted team he found out Drake doesn’t in fact sustain any bullet damage through his various exploits other than a single bullet when he dies. When being pummeled with bullets from enemies, the red-tinted screen effect doesn’t show bullet damage, but rather Drake’s luck. If he sustains too many close calls, he exhausts his quota of near-misses. As the crimson effect intensifies, the luck runs out allowing a bullet to finally hit its target, killing Drake. In effect, Drake doesn’t have a traditional health meter as we’ve come to expect from adventure titles.
‘That’s a mega-swing! Sidenote 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.’ — Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) July 8, 2018
Creative director of the first three Uncharted games, Amy Hennig, also chimed in to confirm this was indeed the case, explaining this was done as a way of staying true to the pop cultural icons that inspired the games, notably Tintin, Indiana Jones, Doc Savage, and the films of Cary Grant.
‘True! That was the original intention (to stay more aligned with the spirit and tone of the films we were homaging).’— Amy Hennig (@amy_hennig) July 8, 2018
This shines a brand new light on Nate as a protagonist and suggests he has god-like bullet dodging powers, which given his antics in all four games doesn’t stray too far from what we’ve come to expect. So there you have it, Drake doesn’t miraculously suck up thousands of rounds of ammunition and simply keep going, rather he’s just one incredibly lucky guy.