Most people look forward to E3 demos — after all, they tend to be the best source for uncut gameplay of a title that's still in development. It's the best way for fans to get a real sense of what to expect ... unfortunately, over the past few years, that hasn't always been the case.

Ever since the current generation of consoles was announced, developers have been trying to show off just how much the new hardware can do. While there are plenty of demos that do just that, some developers have taken a few liberties when it comes to showing off their games.

Titles like Watch Dogs and The Witcher 3 all featured incredibly gorgeous E3 demos — but by the time release day rolled around, the final games didn't look nearly as good as their in-progress counterparts.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is being touted as one of the best-looking games out there, regardless of platform — and the "Sam Pursuit" E3 2015 demo seemed to testify to that. However, with so many doctored E3 demos over the past few years, we decided to take a closer look — so, how does the final version of Uncharted 4 stack up with the version from a year ago?

From E3 2015:

And from the final retail version:

To be fair, strictly looking at the video isn't necessarily a fool-proof method for comparing the two versions of the game. With a setpiece as crazy and complicated as the convoy chase, it's hard to recreate the exact same conditions that Naughty Dog was working with a year ago — that being said, there are definitely a few differences between the two versions of the demo.

First and foremost, there are more guards to deal with during the jeep chase through the city. They don't make much of a difference in the long run (we just drove past them), but they do help keep the tension going during one of the "quieter" moments of the scene. Also, while it's hard to confirm, it appears that there are more people scattered throughout the marketplace during the middle of the chase. They're small touches, but they do help add to the scene's visual flair.

Outside of the chase — basically, the marketplace sequence and Nate's slide through the mud — the versions look pretty similar. Of course, it's easier to take a closer look and really dig into the technical details of a screen shot, so without any further adieu:


Right off the bat, it's easy to see that motion blur has made its way into the final version of Uncharted 4. Not only that, but the lighting and color temperature have also changed dramatically: what was a somewhat washed-out scene now looks like a vibrant, bustling town. Even Nate himself looks better, despite the fact that he's covered in mud.

Everything about the scene looks better in the final version — but what happens when the action really gets going?


Again, the lighting and colors have all been boosted since last year's E3. The motion blur helps make a few of the rougher textures look a bit nicer, and the overall contrast of the final version makes the whole environment pop that much more. Looking back at the video, there's also a lot more detail overall, including bits of debris and long, flowing pieces of fabric lining the street.


The final shot is a bit harder to compare, simply because of all the different factors involved — even so, it's clear that the environments outside of the city have also received some much-needed TLC. The mud always looked great, but in the end, the final retail version looks phenomenal. More intense shadows help the details on the terrain stand out, and the geometry itself has received a noticeable boost in detail (take a look at the rocks near the right side of the frame) — as a result, the whole scene looks more like a real place and less like a video game.

All in all, it's clear that the final retail version of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a definite step up from what fans saw at last year's E3. It's great to see that Naughty Dog has kept pushing the PlayStation 4 hardware all the way through development — and it looks like those agonizing delays were worth it after all.

For more on Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, check out our full review.

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