Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 22, 2017
First impressions by Matthew Codd
I’ve been wanting an Uncharted game focused on Chloe Frazer ever since she was introduced in Uncharted 2. In a series full of fun, complex, witty, badass characters, she takes the cake. Now Chloe finally gets her due in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, a new game that puts her front and centre alongside Uncharted 4 villain Nadine Ross, as an unlikely partnership sees them traversing India in search of the Tusk of Ganesh.
Based on my first few hours with the game, The Lost Legacy is almost all I could’ve hoped for. It’s built on the same engine as Uncharted 4 (it began development as DLC for that game), so it boasts all the same technical accomplishments: jaw-dropping vistas, incredible attention to detail in things like environment and animations, and some of the most lifelike motion-capture the medium has seen. Like Uncharted 4, combat is a step away from the shooting gallery setup of the earlier games, playing out in arena-like settings with more options for a tactical approach, stealth, and misdirection.
However, it wouldn’t be fair to say that this is just Uncharted 4 re-skinned. This is a series that I’ve always valued for its story more than its gameplay (more on that in a bit), but I’ve never had as much fun actually playing an Uncharted game as I am with The Lost Legacy. In response to an endless stream of criticism that the series is “too linear”, Naughty Dog have taken a more open approach with this game, and it works wonders.
In short, a large chunk of the game plays out as essentially an open-world game, but on a smaller scale than most. After an introduction lays out the background and sets Chloe and Nadine on the path of the Tusk, the game transports you to the Western Ghats, which is a wide-open zone reminiscent of the Madagascar level from Uncharted 4. The goal here is to find and investigate three temples, each of which holds a clue in the search for the Tusk – but in a move that’s very unusual for Uncharted, you can approach them in any order you wish. You can also just explore the wilderness, appreciate the scenery, and search for collectibles.
It’s worth noting here that I tend to prefer linear games to open-world ones. The Lost Legacy makes it work beautifully however, because it’s a perfect thematic fit for the treasure-hunting premise. I have no issue with the usual linearity of Uncharted, but this more player-directed approach to adventuring really channels the spirit of the story that’s being told.
That said, a few things have been lost in translation: chiefly, the banter that carries so much of Uncharted’s narrative. In the introductory set-pieces and within the temples themselves, this is as present as ever, building the relationship between Chloe and Nadine and giving the player insight into their characters. But when you’re just free-roaming around the Ghats, the pair share little with one another, and should you choose to get out of the jeep, your partner won’t come with you. It gets lonely.
I do also have some concerns about the direction of the story and writing, though I should note I’m still early in the game. “Daddy issues” seems to be a core theme right from the outset, and while that’s not inherently bad, it’s something that’s overdone and rarely done well. At least in the early parts of The Lost Legacy, it feels a bit ham-fisted, with two characters who both have a reputation for being emotionally closed off frequently just bringing up their troubled childhoods out of the blue.
Aside from this, the relationship between Chloe and Nadine looks like it’s going to be an interesting one to follow. They complement each other well: Nadine the stoic, serious soldier, and Chloe the sarcastic, wise-cracking treasure hunter. Even though this is a partnership of convenience and neither is a particularly emotive person, there’s a friendship budding there that I can’t wait to watch develop.
Play it! Uncharted: The Lost Legacy boasts all the polish and technical prowess that Naughty Dog’s come to be known for, and makes a genuine effort to address the frequent criticisms of Uncharted‘s linearity. More importantly, it lets you play as Chloe Frazer, one of the series’ best and most underutilized characters. If that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what is.