Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Format: PlayStation 4
Released: August 22, 2017
Leave it to Naughty Dog to release an expansion for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End that is more substantive and polished than most “full” games that come out in any given year. The developer is practically showing off at this point with its latest offering, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the first title in the series to not feature protagonist Nathan Drake. Instead, players control Chloe Frazer, a supporting character featured most prominently in 2009’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, as she seeks out the Tusk of Ganesh in the mountains of India whilst a civil war rages (incidentally, the game’s villain is a military leader participating in said civil war). The best thing that can be said for The Lost Legacy is that it delivers a full Uncharted experience, but are we reaching a saturation point with this long-running PlayStation franchise?
By now, most players are likely intimately familiar with what they’ll get from an Uncharted game: a linear action-adventure experience with incredible production values, unremarkable but solid third-person shooting, and jaw-dropping environments just begging to be explored. In that regard, The Lost Legacy doesn’t disappoint, as its central treasure hunt is just as engaging as the quest for Shambala or journey to a secret pirate colony found in previous games. While the game adheres closely to the design template established in A Thief’s End (that game’s rope-swinging mechanic is well-represented here and is just as exhilarating as ever), there are a few small additions that differentiate The Lost Legacy a bit from its numbered predecessor. The most noteworthy addition is a lock-picking mechanic that I thought would become tedious but is actually integrated so well that I could see it being used in future Uncharted titles. The reason the lock picking works is because it’s mostly optional, as you’ll encounter locked crates around the game’s environments that typically contain powerful weapons and occasionally treasure. Most of these crates are located within close proximity of enemies, creating a nice risk/reward experience as you frantically try to pick a lock without an enemy spotting you.
The real question on everyone’s mind is whether or not an Uncharted game without Nathan Drake works and to that, I’d say that while his absence is keenly felt in the early chapters, I was fine with it by the end thanks to the stellar lead performances of Claudia Black as Chloe and Laura Bailey as Nadine Ross. While The Lost Legacy doesn’t delve as deep into its characters’ psyches as Uncharted 4 did, the uneasy alliance between frenemies Chloe and Nadine ends up making for fascinating interpersonal drama, primarily because of Nadine’s role in the latter game. In Uncharted 4, Nadine was a somewhat one-dimensional antagonist but The Lost Legacy develops her into an interesting character in her own right, to the point where it feels believable to see her working with the “good” guys. Nathan Drake may not be present but Uncharted fans will still get a kick out of hearing Chloe and Nadine talk about/make fun of him periodically (also, it’s great to see a game featuring two female protagonists).