The short answer is no, the mainline Uncharted games are not free-to-play. However, some limited Uncharted content has been available for free. As a fellow gaming enthusiast, let me explain in more detail which Uncharted games or modes you can play without paying, and why the full cinematic single-player experiences still require purchase.
Free Uncharted Content Overview
Here‘s a quick rundown of what Uncharted games or content you can access for free:
- Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection was temporarily free on PS4 in 2020
- Uncharted 4‘s multiplayer is permanently free-to-play
- The mobile game Uncharted: Fortune Hunter is free-to-play
- Journey was temporarily free on PS4 (includes Uncharted 3 crossover content)
- PlayStation Plus occasionally offers free Uncharted avatars, themes or multiplayer items
But the flagship single-player story campaigns in the mainline games are not free – you have to buy titles like Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy to play them.
Now let‘s dive deeper into each freebie!
The Nathan Drake Collection – A Limited-Time Freebie
Back in 2020, Sony gave away The Nathan Drake Collection for free for a couple of months to PS4 owners through their Play At Home program during COVID-19. This collection includes remastered versions of the first three PS3 Uncharted games:
- Uncharted: Drake‘s Fortune (2007)
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)
- Uncharted 3: Drake‘s Deception (2011)
It was an amazing deal while it lasted! But it was also time-limited – the promotion ended in May 2020. So The Nathan Drake Collection is no longer free and you have to pay to acquire it now. Copies currently retail for $19.99 digitally on the PS Store or physically.
If you missed out don‘t fret too much. I‘d keep an eye out for potential re-releases of the bundle or discounts during big PSN sales. Sony has been known to revive Play At Home periodically.
Unlock Unlimited Multiplayer with Uncharted 4
Here‘s a cool perk – Uncharted 4: A Thief‘s End has a permanently free-to-play multiplayer component on PS4!
You don‘t even need to own the full Uncharted 4 game. Just search and download "Uncharted 4: Multiplayer" for free on the PlayStation Store.
This grants access to competitive modes like:
- Team Deathmatch
- Ranked TDM
- Co-op Adventure
So you can squad up and frag out online with Nathan Drake himself! The only catch is that you won‘t be able to play the acclaimed single-player campaign without buying the full Uncharted 4 game.
But the multiplayer is a ton of fun, especially with the grappling hook and silky smooth gameplay. And it‘s hard to beat free! This is a nice way for Naughty Dog to keep the online scene alive years after launch.
Take Uncharted On the Go with Fortune Hunter
If you‘re looking to get your Uncharted fix on mobile devices, check out Uncharted: Fortune Hunter. It‘s a free-to-play puzzle/platformer game for iOS and Android set in the Uncharted universe.
Originally released in 2016 around Uncharted 4, Fortune Hunter has you completing over 200 puzzles as Nathan Drake travels the world in search of treasure. The game uses swipe gestures to move Drake and interact with the environment.
There are optional microtransactions for coins, artifacts, and boosts. But the core puzzle adventures can be enjoyed 100% free. And Fortune Hunter ties back into Uncharted 4 with artifacts you can unlock in both games.
It may not be a flagship title, but Fortune Hunter extends Uncharted to smartphones for quick puzzle play on the go.
Journey‘s Limited-Time Crossover Content
During the same Play At Home promotion as The Nathan Drake Collection, Sony also gave away Journey for free. This haunting indie adventure game from thatgamecompany is a work of art in its own right.
Originally released in 2012, Journey has some fun crossover content with Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer mode. You can unlock the main character‘s distinctive red robe as a skin. There are even some easter eggs and artifacts referencing Journey hidden in Uncharted 3.
So the free Journey download unlocked this bonus Uncharted content. Of course, it was only available for a few months before Journey returned to its regular paid status. But it demonstrates how Sony looked for creative ways to surface Uncharted content through the Play at Home program beyond just The Nathan Drake Collection.
PlayStation Plus Perks and Freebies
While not fully free, PlayStation Plus subscribers get occasional Uncharted perks as part of their membership. This includes:
- Free Uncharted themes and avatars – like the Uncharted 10th Anniversary themes
- Exclusive discounts on Uncharted games and DLC
- Early access to new Uncharted multiplayer maps and items
- Occasional full Uncharted multiplayer releases as part of the monthly PS Plus free games
Earlier this year, the PlayLink mobile game Uncharted: Fortune Hunter was one of the monthly PS Plus games. So subscribers got the full premium version rather than just the free-to-play.
PlayStation Plus requires a paid subscription fee. But members tend to get bonuses and discounts for Uncharted content on top of the base service. So if you‘re a big Uncharted fan, a PS Plus membership can pay for itself with the savings.
Why Aren‘t the Main Games Free?
While it‘s awesome we get any Uncharted content for free, you may be wondering – why not just make the iconic mainline games free-to-play?
There‘s a couple reasons:
Development Costs Are High
AAA titles like Uncharted 4 are some of the most expensive and labor-intensive games to develop today. Expanding levels, detailed graphics, cinematic set pieces, performance capture…it all adds up!
Reports estimate Uncharted 4 cost over $100 million to make and took several years with hundreds of developers. Those costs have to be recouped through game sales.
The Uncharted series is one of Sony‘s most prestigious brands associated with quality cinematic storytelling. Devaluing that brand with a free-to-play model could undermine its reputation.
Sony likely wants to retain the series‘ premium status. Big IP like Uncharted, The Last of Us, and God of War are system sellers that motivate players to buy PlayStation consoles.
Free-to-play mechanics often emphasize endless progression, monetization, and daily engagement over narrative. But storytelling is central to Uncharted‘s identity. A F2P model could disrupt that focus.
Sony is keeping the core games priced at a premium to deliver a holistic single-player experience true to the series. The free multiplayer and mobile spin-offs offer alternative ways to engage fans.
So in summary, while I‘d love for the epic single-player Uncharted stories to be free, the economics, brand positioning, and narrative design likely necessitate the premium pricing. The good news is we still get limited free content like Fortune Hunter and Uncharted 4 multiplayer!
Uncharted Pricing and Purchase Options
If you‘re ready to pay to play the full cinematic Uncharted adventures, here‘s a quick pricing breakdown:
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection (PS5 and PC)
- Includes Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy remastered
- $49.99 digital or physical
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
- Includes Uncharted 1-3 remastered
- $19.99 digital on PS Store
Other Individual Titles
- Uncharted 4: A Thief‘s End – $19.99 PS Store
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – $19.99 PS Store
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss – $29.99 on PS Vita
The nice thing is the core games go on sale fairly often. So keep an eye out for deals like Game of the Year editions including DLC or PlayStation holiday sales.
For the ultimate value, I‘d recommend starting with The Nathan Drake Collection to get the first three games in one bundle. Then play Uncharted 4 followed by The Lost Legacy to finish Nate and Chloe‘s saga. That will give you hundreds of hours of breathtaking cinematic adventure!
Is Uncharted Worth Playing in 2022?
Even 6+ years after release, the Uncharted games absolutely hold up in 2022 if you‘ve somehow missed them. The stories, characters, production values and gameplay still deliver a thrilling blockbuster experience.
Some key factors that make Uncharted timeless:
- Strong writing and acting that grounds the adventure
- Massive set pieces like the moving train or pirate ship battles
- Charming personalities like Nate, Elena, Sully and Chloe you care about
- An Indiana Jones-esque sense of globetrotting discovery
- Satisfying third-person shooting and traversal gameplay
- Stunning graphics and technical polish, especially on PS5
If you enjoy story-driven action adventures, the Uncharted saga is quite simply one of gaming‘s crown jewels and most entertaining franchises.
Whether you play the free content or purchase the iconic single-player journeys, Uncharted offers thrills for every gamer. Its mix of characters, cinematics and gameplay represent the apex of cinematic blockbuster gaming.
So that covers the scoop on what‘s free vs paid across the Uncharted universe in 2022! Let me know if you have any other questions – I‘m always happy to chat gaming and help fellow players. Enjoy treasure hunting!