Welcome to the latest installment of our Celebrating A Series column. In it, we discuss what we’d like to see from a potential sequel or next installment of a game series, many of which have been dormant for some time. For this one, I’m going to be going over what I love about the Jak and Daxter series, and what I hope to see if Naughty Dog ever decides to answer my prayers and either A) continue the series, or B) finish it with one final game. I have to admit, I was a little annoyed to hear Naughty Dog say that it was important to give good old Nathan Drake a proper send off, while neglecting Naughty Dog’s true golden children, Jak and Daxter. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Uncharted 4. What Naughty Dog managed to do with that game is nothing short of a miracle, but as someone who grew up playing Jak and Daxter games, I miss them. With that out of the way, here are some of the things that I would like to see in Jak 4 if it ever saw the light of day.
Jak 4 – Deserving Of A True Conclusion
For starters I need to talk about why I love these games and their characters so much. When I was a kid, Jak and Daxter was always a game series that I could pick up and play, and just get lost in for hours on end. The one thing that always stood out to me from the very first time I played one of these games was the characters and their personalities. In the first game, Jak is mute. So it may sound a little odd that I’m saying I like both Jak and Daxter, but even so, Naughty Dog still managed to get across what they needed to say through Jak’s facial expressions. (Plus there is more than just one game in the series, so it all evens out in the end.) Daxter’s over the top humor and a mouth that is larger than life itself, coupled with Jak’s childlike innocence made for a particularly charming adventure in the series’ first entry (and this was before they grew into the heroes they would ultimately become). I wanted to progress through the story simply because I cared about the characters that I was following. The first game was only the beginning of a love for these characters that would grow over the years.
As the series grew, so to did the characters (aside from Daxter, he stayed short and furry). In Jak II, Jak, Daxter, Keira, and Samos took a trip 300 years into the future where they quickly realized that things have gone to shit. Upon entering the harsh new world, Jak is captured and taken away as a test subject, leaving Daxter to step up and figure out a way to save him. If you’ve ever played Daxter for the PSP you know how that story unfolds. I’m not going to get into it, but it was a fun game that filled out the two year gap between Jak and Daxter’s arrival in the future, and the point where Jak II picks up for the player. When it does, Jak is older and can finally speak. It would be safe to say he’s a little angry about being experimented on. Thanks to the experiments however, Jak can make use of some cool new Dark Eco abilities.
Throughout the story, you can really tell that although he’s fighting an inner demon and wants revenge on Baron Praxis (which he does get), Jak is still willing to do the right thing to protect those who can’t do so themselves. He saves creatures that have been enslaved, helps the people of Haven City from being mauled by Metalheads, and even takes down criminals. Daxter may be disgruntled about tagging along, but ultimately even he knows it is the right thing to do. This sentiment of doing the right thing carries over into Jak 3, in which Jak is granted the ability to control Light Eco, granting him new powers like being able to slow down time, and even fly. At the end of the story, Jak and Daxter discover the true identity of The Precursors when they reach the Precursor Core and help activate the Planetary Defense System in order to save the entire planet. It turns out that the Ottsels, (the small furry orange creature that Daxter was turned into in the first game) are the long lost Precursors.
I had always looked at this moment in the series as a jumping off point, to start something new. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier released for the PSP and PS2 in 2009, so I won’t pretend like it doesn’t exist. It was originally being made by Naughty Dog, but was passed to High Impact Games after Naughty Dog decided they didn’t have enough time to work on both it and Uncharted 2. Naughty Dog also tried to make Jak 4 at some point, which ultimately transitioned into The Last of Us, but I have always hoped Naughty Dog would return to Jak and Daxter eventually. If they ever do, I would love to see these characters get a proper send off. What happened to Jak and Keira after the events of The Lost Frontier? What about the Precursors, Daxter and Trish? It would be nice to see how things played out over time, especially since the original three games really demonstrated what Naughty Dog was capable of achieving, long before games like Uncharted and The Last Of Us existed. Simply put, these characters have stuck with me over the years, and I feel like they deserve a true conclusion.
Jak 4 – Bigger, Better Weaponry
Another thing I would absolutely love to see in a potential Jak 4 would be bigger, better weaponry. Towards the end of Jak 3, Naughty Dog really pushed the boundaries with the weapons. Since Jak 3 made use of the same weapons from Jak II only with further upgrades, it would be nice to see Naughty Dog give us both old and new weapons (complete with even more upgrades to unlock). Personally, my all time favorite weapon from the series was the Blaster. You could get an upgrade in Jak 3 that would allow its bullets to ricochet off of walls, making for some interesting opportunities when fighting enemies in tight spaces. In Jak II, the Blaster was also perfect for fighting enemies from a relatively safe distance, making it a great go to for almost any situation involving Krimson Guards or Metalheads. I would enjoy getting to use some of the classic weapons like the Scattergun, Blaster, and Peacemaker, but why stop there? Naughty Dog could really come up with some crazy weapons for a new Jak game, and I would bet that there are plenty of good ideas in some of the series’ unused concept art too!
Jak 4 – New Haven City?
Lastly, I think that Naughty Dog could make use of the improved technology of the modern gaming world to craft an even better version of Haven City to explore. Perhaps our characters could go through another time portal, and we could see a newer version of Haven City that is much farther into the future than just 300 years. Things like more verticality could be introduced, or even back alleyways and shortcuts that would provide players with alternate routes throughout the city to make traversing it a little quicker. Jak II had flying cars, so why not double down on that idea? It would be cool to see the opposite of Jak II, where instead of the City being in crisis, it is a thriving hub filled to the brim with citizens, sprawling markets, and mid air highways. The series also always featured at least some sort of racing element, so why not expand on that as well? Instead of simply racing in an enclosed track, Naughty Dog could implement various circuit races throughout the new Haven City to allow players to familiarize themselves with its layout and unlock some upgrades along the way. Another cool thing would be if the team could implement some of the vehicle customization elements seen in Jak X: Combat Racing, allowing players to personalize their vehicle of choice when traversing through the newer, improved version of Haven City.
These are just some of the things I would love to see in Jak 4 if it ever happened. What are some of the things you would want to see if Naughty Dog ever returned to the Jak and Daxter series? Are there any specific characters that you would like to see return? Perhaps there are plot threads you would want to see resolved? Let us know in the comments below!