The hidden island[a] is the main location featured in Drake's Fortune. It is an island located in the South Pacific at Kriegsmarine coordinates UK2642, somewhere off of the coast of Peru. It was originally found and colonized by the Spaniards, until their demise, and then rediscovered by the Nazis, until they too were wiped out. It was lost, until Nathan Drake discovered a map inside a Nazi U-Boat in the Amazon rainforest, in his search for El Dorado.
Prior to Drake's Fortune
Originally, the island was discovered by Conquistadors and later became a Spanish colony founded at some point in the 16th century. The colony flourished as the main port along the route from South America to Spain, and through the influx of both migrants and accumulated Spanish treasure. Their colony was centered around a city, a fort, and a monastery. Beneath the monastery, they hid their treasure in an enormous underground maze-like treasure vault. The colony's history ended violently shortly after the arrival of El Dorado. After the curse of El Dorado affected some number of the populace, turning them into the descendant's ancestors, they killed the remaining populace, effectively ending the colony entirely.
At some point Sir Francis Drake captured a Spanish ship, taking only a Dominican friar with them; Juan de Velasco. Velasco told him of an island the Spanish called "Rica de Oro", and drew a map for Drake, also describing the church and the vault beneath it. Drake must have explored the island, including the vault, and obtained knowledge of the new inhabitants. Later, this resulted in him losing favor with the British queen, and faking his own death at the coast of Panama. He then returned to the island, destroying the ships that had brought him there in an attempt to stop the descendants from using them to leave, and blowing up part of the customs house to flood the infested colony city. Eventually, all his men died and he himself perished in front of the El Dorado sarcophagus in the vault.
At some point, a Nazi expedition discovered the island and set up a submarine bunker. They also found El Dorado, and moved the statue from the vault to another cavern underneath the monastery. During the process, one soldier was mutated. The Nazis studied the curse contained within it. They too were eventually all murdered by the descendants, as is made clear by the many corpses and remains within the bunker.
The next to arrive on the island was Gabriel Roman, a group of mercenaries led by Atoq Navarro, a band of pirates led by Eddy Raja, and a captured Victor Sullivan. They were closely followed by Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, who, after his confrontation with Navarro and Roman, set off for the island with Elena using the Hog Wild. After their plane was shot down, the two ended up separated after parachuting out. Nate trekked through the long jungle for the plane's remain and signs of Elena, eventually stumbling upon a large fortress
There he found Elena but crossed paths with his old colleague, Eddy Raja, who had him locked up in a prison cell. Elena managed to free him, and the two escaped through the jungle until they reached the Drowned City. With Nate on the verge of giving up on the treasure, the two acquired a jet ski and ventured through the city, searching for a way out, all while being attacked by several groups of pirates. Nate and Elena soon discovered proof of El Dorado's presence on the island, and that Sullivan had somehow survived the gunshot and was currently with Roman and Navarro, trying to help them find the treasure. Not sure whether he was working for them or not, the two decided to track him down by following a river deeper into the island, which led them to a monastery.
In the monastery they managed to rescue a captive Sullivan, which eventually led to the discovery of the treasure vault, Francis Drake's remains, and the descendants themselves. Drake also found out the truth about them, as well as what happened to Francis Drake, inside the Nazis' bunker. During all this Elena was taken hostage, and Drake himself was forced to flee the bunker, meeting up with Sully in the monastery. Regrouped, they managed to make their way to El Dorado's new location, where they witnessed Navarro betraying Roman. He then escaped with both Elena and the golden sarcophagus using a helicopter as descendants began to swarm the cave.
Drake managed to hitch on El Dorado as it was being air-lifted, dropping onto Navarro's boat located within the island's port. After a long fight, Drake managed to defeat Navarro, and dump El Dorado into the water below, after which he, Elena, and Sully left using a boat with stolen treasure.
Almost entirely covered in dense jungle, the island features only a select number of human settlements that remain after centuries of neglect. Although the Spanish' customs house, fortress, colony city, and monastery are the main locations, the Spaniards have constructed numerous additional structures throughout the jungle. There is a main port on the south-eastern side of the island, with the fortress overlooking it on the south side atop a large cliff, and the customs house on the north. The monastery is upriver past the Drowned City, with both it and the Bunker located on the northern edge.
In "Plane-wrecked" Nate witnesses several ruins, in varying states of disrepair, including the remains of a partially collapsed bridge. The bridges are a necessity due to the numerous large rivers and waterfalls, with another bridge is seen during "Out of the Frying Pan", and again in "Heading Upriver", on the main river leading upwards to the monastery. Numerous ruins are also visible alongside the riverbank. The descendants themselves left no large constructs, but they did build several spike traps and totems out in the jungle.
The fortress is positioned atop the cliffs, forming one side of the strait leading into the port bay, overlooking the south-eastern end of the island. It holds a commanding position over the area, easily visible when at sea or on the coasts. After the fall of the colony is has since fallen in disrepair, with sections collapsing and trees overgrowing the ruins. Eddy Raja and his pirates used the fort as their base of operations, using it to store their vehicles, munitions, and supplies.
Francis Drake also passed through it at some point, staying at it for some time, and planning his next step on the island.
The Drowned City served as the main housing area for the colonists, with the massive customs house serving as the point of entry and exit for goods, products, and stolen treasure from the Americas. After the populace was either killed by, or turned into, the descendant's ancestors, they used the city to live in. Francis Drake decided at some point to sink his own ships, blow up part of the customs house, and subsequently flood the entire city, driving away the new inhabitants. The city's customs house is represented as a depiction on the colony's personal coin that they minted.
The monastery was isolated from the rest of the colony, and only accessible at the time by taking a long path up past a large river. Situated in the mountains, it was where the Spaniards hid their gold and treasures, with the library and church used to each hide entrances into the underground catacombs. It also contained numerous other structures and areas, but parts of it were inaccessible, other than the main plaza and the graveyard behind the church.
Francis Drake explored the monastery at some point during his travels, using the captured ship Rodrigo to explain the heart symbol to him. He wrote down his findings in his diary, which Nathan Drake used to follow in his footsteps, discovering the secret entrance to the treasure vault, all the while Atoq Navarro's mercenaries roamed the area.
The treasure vault was part of the island's true purpose; a place for the Spanish to store their amassed stolen treasures taken from South America. The vault is a massive underground complex, consisting of two large caverns with numerous paths leading in and out, serving as a complicated maze. Many bridges, towers, and additional structures were added to further complicate maneuvering through the area, complete with many metal plates marked with Roman numerals, that indicated certain paths.
While Nate explored the vault, he discovered Francis Drake had been here before, and thus used the numerals marked by his ancestor in the diary to find the way forward, as the vault had remained largely intact and functional. The heart of the vault was also where he first encountered the descendants, who appeared to live underneath or otherwise nearby, as well as the remains of Francis Drake.
The bunker was an old Nazi submarine docking station that housed an abandoned U-Boat. It was initially dark and abandoned until Nate restored its power, which triggered numerous automated doors, as well as many descendants to flood its tunnels. It featured a dilapidated interior, with several Nazi corpses still lying around. In one room was an old film projector, which revealed the true nature of the El Dorado statue.
Behind the scenes
In The Art of the Uncharted Trilogy, Naughty Dog employees noted that they did several studies of jungle landscapes and lost cities. They also were inspired by the temples of Angkor Wat and liked the idea of trees growing on-top of ancient building structures, with roots snaking down the walls and wrapping around columns. They also had to make numerous jungle plants and trees to populate their jungle levels.
- Drake's Fortune script § "Bell puzzle page"
- Drake's Fortune script § "Rica de Oro map"
- Drake's Fortune script § "Uncharted Island"
- The Art of the Uncharted Trilogy, p. 37
- Drake's Fortune script § "UK2642"
- Drake's Fortune script § "Heart symbol page"
- The Art of the Uncharted Trilogy, p. 37
- O.H.K. Spate 2004, pages 106–108