Over a year since the release of the masterful Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog have been slowing releasing new content via the multiplayer portion of the game while continuing to work on the main single-player DLC. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the stand alone expansion is finally out and with it comes a whole new story to be told. Does greatness still await, or is it one adventure that is better left untraveled?
Right away Uncharted Lost Legacy sets itself apart from what has come before by changing out the protagonist of the franchise. Rather than series icon Nathan Drake you play as Chloe Frazer, a returning character from previous Uncharted entries. Unlike other side characters such as Sully and Elena, Chloe hasn’t had much time in the spotlight especially after her absence in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, so it was great to see her being the main focus of this game.
Other than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves which mainly focused on her relationship to Nathan Drake we don’t really know much about her, creating a lot of potential back story for this game to explore. Of course all great adventures must have someone to assist the treasure hunter, and that comes in the form of Nadine Ross. One of the previous main antagonists of the Drake brothers, things haven’t quite gone well for Nadine since Uncharted 4 having been unable to resource funding for her mercenary group Shoreline.
Although Chloe’s story is the primary focus, Nadine does have her own moments and the game is able to shed a different light on her character and motivations. Ultimately the narrative acts as conduit to allow these characters to bond and grow, enabling them to assist each other with moving on from their past decisions. With the compelling dialogue superbly delivered through both physical and verbal means, the personality of the two leads come through with lifelike qualities adding a sense of realness and relatability to their journey.
Creating roadblocks for Chloe and Nadine is a brand new villain called Asav, a rebel leader and warlord in India. Asav fits in with the best of the Uncharted antagonists, with the ruthlessness of Lazarevic and the villainous subtlety of Rafe. From his initial appearance in an active war-zone you immediately feel the threat he presents, and thankfully his background remains mysterious while still giving enough explanation to his motivations and personality that he comes off also as a compelling and realistic character.
Between the cast there is the main goal of retrieving a long lost treasure from the Hoysala empire, the Tusk of Ganesh, that leads to many confrontations between Chloe, Nadine and Asav as you discover and explore the stunning vistas Uncharted Lost Legacy has to offer. India hasn’t been featured yet in an Uncharted game, and it allows Naughty Dog to explore significantly different locations such as a city under civil war, as well as hidden temples and cities erected in honour of Hindu gods. Not only does it offer something different from what has been seen before, but the location is also closely tied to Chloe’s history offering greater weight and levity to the environment.
This series has always had visually striking locations and explosive set pieces to break up the pacing of the game, and there is no exception here. Unlike most other Uncharted’s, this game doesn’t move you around from country to country but rather chooses to focus on one main area and greatly fleshing it out. The feeling of uncovering a once vibrant location that was hidden away and has slowly fallen to ruin offers some of the best moments this series has, and by smartly spacing them out this game always has something new to discover.
The set pieces in Lost Legacy are also an excellent way to diversify the gameplay and create dynamic cinematic experiences. The Uncharted franchise has had so many at this point that some featured in this game are a bit derivative of what’s come before but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few surprises. Regardless, they are still very enjoyable to play and are an impressive way to quickly get the characters from one place to another as opposed to the slow and less exciting alternative.
When you’re not taking in the breathtaking scenery or climbing a collapsing building the gameplay is basically the same as it was in Uncharted 4. The combat scenarios can either be completed via an all-out gun fight, Chloe sneaking around through the thick grass stealthily taking out all enemies, or in some situations being avoided entirely. The emphasis is more on stealth in this game with certain encounters that are thrown at you, especially on the higher difficulties.
Building on the stealth system there is a new lock picking mechanic used to unlock chests granting access to more powerful weapons some of which are unique to Lost Legacy. One such weapon is a silenced pistol which can help significantly in taking out large groups of enemies secretly, although with the pressure of having to do the lock-picking mini-game without being spotted. I did enjoy these new features but I wish there could have been some kind of distraction ability to make it a more fully functional stealth system.
Besides the combat encounters you will be exploring the environment by climbing, jumping, swimming and driving your way through various areas and obstacles. Uncharted Lost Legacy features a location early in the game that allows you to branch off into all directions completing tasks in any order you see fit. This is what felt the newest to an Uncharted game and was easily one of the biggest highlights.
In this section a side mission is also introduced that has Chloe and Nadine looking for Hoysala tokens to grant access to a special bracelet. This bracelet then becomes a part of Chloe’s attire for the rest of the game and glows red whenever near a hidden treasure. This was a brilliant addition and made the treasure so much more enjoyable to find.
Puzzles also appear quite often in the game as a barrier preventing you from journeying further into Chloe’s quest for the tusk. Quite a bit of variety is introduced into each challenge were one has you traversing a path based on movement patterns of a statue or another involving lining up shadow illustrations. They are enjoyable overall and deliver the right amount of difficulty while not being overly complex to stump non puzzle fans.
Every aspect of this game is compelling and seamlessly comes together to make one hell of a joyful experience with its only real significant stumble being the overall sense of Déjà vu you get while playing it. At this point the Uncharted formula does start to feel a bit overused, as obstacles constantly crumple and the bad guy always seems to show up just when a combat skirmish needs to occur. The excellent characters, environment and story helps alleviate that problem though, and at the very least it is still extremely polished and fun to play.
Once you have complete the game there is still plenty of content to enjoy such as finding all the hidden collectables, optional conversations and photo spots. Different game modifiers can also be enabled to make the game feel very different on a second exploration. This can be done to often humorous effect with modifiers such ‘Bullet Time’ and ‘No Gravity’ enabling combat scenarios to feel very unique from the original version of the game.
Additionally, the entire Uncharted 4 multiplayer suite is included to enable potentially endless hours of online content. With the release of Uncharted Lost Legacy skins for Chloe and Nadine have been added, plus Asav as a playable character and an all new Survival Arena mode for some co-op fun against waves of enemies. The single player campaign is compelling enough but with additional multiplayer weapons, abilities and modes that have been supported all the way up to now there is heaps to enjoy here.
With Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Naughty Dog have managed to pull off an excellent return to what was originally intended to just be DLC for Uncharted 4. Changing perspective and tying the location to the personal story of Chloe was a great idea to make the game feel fresh and less stagnant of what has come before. Every aspect of this game is masterfully done, and presents a strong indication that this series can move on without Nathan Drake as its title character.
Written By Russell Collom
Reviewed on PS4 Pro
Available on PS4