Sony Studio Marvel Matchup: Naughty Dog
What Marvel game I think Naughty Dog should make
Lately I’ve been pairing up Sony video game studios with Marvel franchises to discuss hypothetical PlayStation games I’d like to see alongside Insomniac’s Spider-Man. Most recently I wrote about Santa Monica Studio here.
Here I am going to write about how if Naughty Dog made a Marvel game I’d want it to revolve around Black Panther.
When I thought about pairing a Marvel hero with Naughty Dog my first thought revolved around a trend in setting that I noticed in Naughty Dog franchises. I can’t help but notice a lot of jungle like settings within them. Crash Bandicoot has frequent jungle levels, so does Uncharted and even The Last of Us has a more urban setting but with animals and vegetation starting to show up where they normally wouldn’t. So with that in mind, I thought the character most fitting to have Uncharted like moments in a tropical setting was Black Panther.
Every new game tries to be unique and innovative but a Naughty Dog Black Panther would be great even if they didn’t change much from an Uncharted game. I’d like to describe the main combat sections in Uncharted 4 as fistfights, forts and ambushes. Ambushes force Drake into firefights which wouldn’t translate well to Black Panther but the other types would.
Fistfights are exactly what they sound like, with Uncharted’s protagonist Nathan Drake punching, kicking and throwing people around, using a simple system of strikes, counters and dodges. This seems fitting for a Black Panther game but would need some tweaks to be better suited to a superhero game. A major theme in Uncharted 4 is that Drake is older and can’t scrap like he used to, so in many of these fights he’s just barely surviving. If the Black Planther were in these kinds of fights combat would need to be much more fluid to show off his superhuman abilities. If T’challa’s fistfights ever looked like Drake’s there should be a narrative reason for why he is struggling. Most likely he would need to be worn out from fighting a formidable enemy or in a situation where T’challa had lost or not yet received his powers.
Forts put Drake against a large group of armed enemies. Players can get through this sections through stealth, shooting or a combination of both. Since Black Panther mainly uses hand to hand combat I’d like stealth to be more crucial against armed enemies than it is in Uncharted. I’d even like to see some sections that are stealth only as long as there is a reason to justify why being seen sets you back. To assist with a larger focus on stealth, the Black Panther could have access gadgets and abilities similar to how Drake accesses weapons. I normally like Black Panther portrayed using minimal technology but in this case more tech would make stealth more interesting. Plus Insomniac’s Spider-Man heavily relies on gadgets so it would make the games feel more connected.
The final things I think would transfer well from Uncharted to a Black Panther title is the sense of exploration and supernatural elements sparingly added to Uncharted games. Drake sometimes comes across lost cities and supernatural discoveries while he searches for treasure. A Black Panther game could have similar moments exploring the cults in Wakanda. For example, T’challa could have a surreal experience when he first gets powers from the Panther Cult’s Heart Shaped Herb. However, he could also have similar experiences with the White Gorilla Cult, Lion Cult and Crocodile Cult to earn new upgrades, tools or abilities. These sections could be some of the games most difficult parts if T’challa must temporarily give up his Black Panther powers in order to work with the other cults or take challenges given to him. I would love to see Naughty Dogs’ take on Wakanda, it’s cults and it’s heroes.