Sony’s legendary treasure-hunting series returns
There’s a new trend in gaming this year, and I’m digging it: mid-sized AAA games at a lower price point. Ninja Theory’s Hellblade was the first good example, and now Naughty Dog gives us Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Yes, this latest entry in their critically-acclaimed action-adventure series is shorter than usual, but still packs a wallop.
In many ways, The Lost Legacy represents a turning point for Sony’s flagship franchise. Nathan Drake is stepping aside for the first-time ever, with fan-favourite Chloe Frazer stepping into the limelight. Joining her on this new treasure-hunting expedition is Nadine Ross, one of the main antagonists from Uncharted 4. Together, they travel to India in search of a long lost artifact that holds a special place in Chloe’s past.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Stepping into the hero role
Following the conclusion of Nathan Drake’s story in Uncharted 4, it’s exciting to see the franchise moving forward. Naughty Dog wisely chose Chloe, perhaps the series’ most enigmatic character, to assume a new leading role. She’s full of mystery and a blank slate in terms of backstory, so exploring her character is very revealing.
On the surface, Chloe doesn’t seem like a typical heroic figure―I mean, she’s mostly been self-serving in past Uncharted games. Her co-partner Nadine is similarly dubious, having been a mercenary and heavy-handed paramilitary leader in the previous title. However, through their adventures together in The Lost Legacy you begin to see each in a new light. This is the beauty of Naughty Dog and their amazing team of writers: they really know how to humanize characters.
In search of Halebidu
The story begins with Chloe deciding to explore her roots in India, specifically looking for the lost treasure of Halebidu. This fabled land holds the Tusk of Ganesh, a valuable artifact her father spent a lifetime searching for. Also seeking the treasure is Asav, a warmongering military leader who believes he holds right over the land.
It just so happens that Nadine has prior dealings with Asav, so Chloe hires her to aid in the mission. Right away we’re shown different sides of these characters, with both displaying compassion and camaraderie unlike we’ve seen before. At the same time though, their differing personalities leads to many hostile situations that nearly boil over. This love/hate relationship is central to the storyline and offers a fresh dynamic we haven’t seen in an Uncharted before.
From a gameplay perspective, it’s pretty clear from the onset that The Lost Legacy reuses the Uncharted 4 game engine. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, as UC4 is one of the most polished games of this generation. So, expect lots of climbing, rope-swinging, sliding, going into cover, and moving carts around just like the last game. The tall grass stealth mechanic returns as well, letting you creep up to enemies for a one-hit silent KO strike.
Furthermore, jeep driving returns for a portion of the game. Cruising around in your 4×4 is still lots of fun, especially when the scenery looks so gorgeous it’s borderline photorealistic. There’s more freedom to explore, too, with The Lost Legacy containing the largest open-world space of any Uncharted. More on that in just a bit.
One new gameplay ability finds its way into the experience―the lock-picking mechanic we’ve seen time and again in other games. You can use this skill to unlock dozens of sealed containers scattered around the environments, particularly areas with heavy gunfights. Naturally this involves turning the right analog stick until it vibrates, which then opens the lock. Sure it’s slightly tedious to do, but you can net yourself some great rewards if you have the patience. These include new assault rifles or handguns, ammo clips, C4 explosives, and collectible treasures for the trophy-hunter.
Explore the expansive Western Ghats
A highlight of The Lost Legacy is its new, open-world chapter taking place around India’s Western Ghats. While it’s natural to compare it to Uncharted 4‘s wide open Madagascar, the Ghats is much larger and more interesting. It’s completely nonlinear too, so you can explore this vast stretch of land any way you choose.
Whether on foot or by jeep, there are many secrets waiting for you to uncover. On top of three main towers you need to visit to move the story along, many other off-the-beaten-path attractions exists. These might be ancient ruins or elaborate Indian statues that are generally very beautiful to see. You’ll also find hidden tokens of the 11 Hoysala kings buried deep within the belly of the Ghats. The critical path only takes about 30 minutes to complete, but opt to explore and you’ll be richly rewarded for doing so.
We’ve come to expect incredible sights and sounds from Uncharted games, and this one lives up to its name. From bustling Indian markets, to lush tropical environments, to extravagant ancient ruins, it’s all very pleasing to the eye. As well, the voice-acting is top-notch, propelled by a deeply personal narrative where lots is at stake. If you’re wondering about over-the-top Hollywood style set piece, yes the game has them too.
I also want to touch upon the motion-capturing, which is among the best yet for the series. Chloe, Nadine, and Asav move naturally and believably, reinforcing Naughty Dog’s position of being at the forefront of the industry. In terms of spectacle, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
The multiplayer included in The Lost Legacy is exactly the same as that found in Uncharted 4. If you’re wondering why that’s the case, it’s because this latest entry was originally intended to be Uncharted 4 DLC. During development, Naughty Doy’s ambition grew so large it blossomed into its own stand-alone game. To see what I had to say about Uncharted 4‘s multiplayer component, I invited you to check out my review.
The good news is The Lost Legacy‘s multiplayer includes all the DLC updates since launch. This includes the cooperative Survival mode where you take on waves of enemies with various round modifiers. For an even greater challenge, the new Survival Arena adds 100 new waves, new enemies, and new modifiers. The multiplayer update also adds new skins for Chloe and Nadine, as well as including Asav as a playable character.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy delivers a rich Uncharted experience at a fair price. You get an edge-of-your-seat campaign lasting 7+ hours, and an enhanced multiplayer experience including the all-new Survival Arena. I had a blast learning about Chloe’s past, and the banter between her and Nadine is simply excellent. This might just be the most personal Uncharted story told yet. While it’s not called Uncharted 5, given the quality of the game it sure does feel like it.
+ Stunning graphics
+ Compact, thrilling story
+ Wonderful character growth
+ Enhanced multiplayer offering
+ Full Uncharted experience
– Lock-picking is the only new gameplay mechanic
– Occasional sense of déjà vu
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5