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Uncharted 4: everything you need to know before playing

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Today Uncharted 4: A Thief's End launches on the PlayStation 4, and, if you believe developer Naughty Dog, it'll be the last adventure for hero Nathan Drake. It's a great game — check out our review to see why — but there are still a handful of issues that mar an otherwise wonderful experience. Some of these are things long-time fans will be familiar with, while others are new to this latest entry in the series. Either way, follow these tips to help make Drake's final send-off go as smoothly as possible.

Don't worry about looking for treasure

Uncharted 4 is more open than any game in the series before, with lots of tucked-away locations that you probably won't find unless you go out looking for them. Inside of many of those hideaways is treasure, but as cool as that may sound — Nathan Drake is a treasure hunter, after all — you shouldn't really go out of your way to find these trinkets, at least not your first time playing. Searching for optional treasure breaks up the flow of the game's tightly crafted adventure, and offers no real benefit for doing so. You can still unlock most of the cool bonus content in the game without playing like a completionist — and to be honest, most of the bonus stuff isn't that cool anyway, with a few exceptions.

Uncharted 4

Make sure the brightness setting is just right

The game takes you around the world to some beautiful, scenic spots, from the beaches of Madagascar to the snowy hills of Scotland. But you'll also spend a lot of your time in Uncharted 4 exploring dark caves and dingy crypts. Setting a Goldilocks-level of brightness is essential, because even when Drake carries around a flashlight or torch, it can be hard to see everything around you. Often that means you'll walk right past the door or switch you need to find in order to get back into the light.

Don't be ashamed to use aim assist (or play on easy mode)

Uncharted 4 is great at a lot of things, but shooting isn't one of them. The game often forces you into long sequences where you have no choice but to shoot your way to the exit, and these moments can really bring down the experience. Turning on the aim-assist makes them as painless as possible. It won't make them any shorter, but it definitely makes shoot-outs easier, letting you pick off bad guys quickly even if you have the gun skills of a sleepy turtle..

In fact, if you're really worried about it, just play on easy: the joy of Uncharted is its sense of story and exploration, not its challenge.

Remember to pick up ammo

Of course, aim assist won't help much if you don't have any bullets. It's really easy to find yourself out of ammo in Uncharted 4 if you don't pay attention, so it's important to always be on the lookout for fallen enemies who are a handy source of both bullets and new weapons. You should definitely survey your surroundings after a big firefight (and sometimes during if it's a particularly long battle), because the battleground will be ripe with deadly new things to add to your arsenal. These pickups are also easy to spot: they shine like tiny, white light bulbs.

Uncharted 4

Stealth is your friend

That said, you'll want to avoid shootouts as much as possible. While some are unavoidable, other sequences give you options for how you approach them. You can go in guns blazing, or you can sneak around and take out enemies like a silent ninja. Playing Uncharted 4 like a stealth game not only helps you avoid a lot of long, drawn out shootouts, it's also a lot of fun. There are lots of places to hide — underwater, in the bushes, on a ledge — and playing this way almost turns combat into a puzzle, forcing you to think your way out of situations. And if you do get spotted part way through a stealth run, at least the ensuing firefight will be shorter since you've already taken out some of your foes.

Make sure you have lots of time

You'll spend nearly as much time watching Uncharted 4 as you will playing it, so it's a good thing to make sure you have a bunch of free time before you sit down to play. It's a game best played in chunks of several hours. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending a whole session watching a cutscene and little else. This is especially true at the beginning and end of the game, where the non-interactive story sequences are plentiful.

Read next: Uncharted 4 review