Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

(This review was done with full release code provided by Naughty Dog)

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a stand-alone expansion from the developer Naughty Dog that takes place after the events of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. While it isn’t a requirement to have played Uncharted 4 (or any of the previous Uncharted games) to enjoy this chapter, you certainly would be missing out on the “end” of what has been an extremely satisfying and incredible journey.

The Lost Legacy has you playing the role of Chloe Frazer, a treasure hunter (aka thief), who was originally introduced in Uncharted 3: Drake‘s Deception. Chloe is searching for the Tusk of Ganesh in India and has enlisted the assistance of the mercenary leader Nadine Ross, who we were introduced to in Uncharted 4. As you can see, much of the initial introduction of these characters was is in previous Uncharted games, so it would benefit the player to have played through them before. While Nathan Drake is mentioned in passing, this is the first of the Uncharted games not to feature him, and surprisingly is not missed.

Chloe is a sharp-witted, strong and independent character, who is used to doing things on her own and in her own way. Her Indian heritage and family connection to the treasure being hunted gives the player a deeper look into the character herself, which draws you in on a much more personal level. Chloe could give Lara Croft a run for her money in the treasure hunting gig.

For players familiar with the other Uncharted games in the series, gameplay is pretty much your standard fare of climbing from cliff to cliff, fighting/shooting enemies and solving the occasional puzzle. Even though there is very little difference from other games in the series, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The character movement, climbing, and shooting is as solid as ever. The inclusion of some additional stealth tactics, such as the use of tall grass to hide in (reminiscent of Horizon: Zero Dawn), is a welcome addition and provides for multiple opportunities to deal with the various enemy encounters throughout the game.

Unlike previous Uncharted games however, there is one chapter in particular that provides some open world feel and an opportunity to approach each location as the player wishes. While the order in which these locations are visited is not important, to move on to the next chapter EACH must be explored. This gives the player a choice of where to explore and it’s a nice change of pace from the particularly linear gameplay style the series is known for. While it is indeed an open area, I found it to be fairly limited on what could be done. For example, you can drive your jeep around the beautiful waterfalls, and muddy roads, but other than deciding which location to explore first, there wasn’t much more to be done. It’s a minor complaint, and you can’t blame Naughty Dog for attempting to give the player a sense of freedom in the game.

Nadine as your AI companion is an excellent addition. She utilizes stealth to take out enemies when possible, and can even help you out of a jam. She’s a pleasant companion as I never felt I had to babysit her or worry about her getting stuck on any environment. She also never drew unwanted attention during key moments were stealth was pivotal. I wish all games handled companions as she is handled in this game, which feels as though you are truly playing with another person. The constant banter back and forth between Chloe and Nadine, not only provides entertainment as you progress through the story, but also gives you some key insight to their characters and the motivations they both have in their search for the tusk.

The setting is absolutely breath-taking. I played on a PlayStation 4 Pro, and the vistas and set pieces left me in awe many times. In addition to the trinket collectibles present in previous Uncharted games, there are also opportunities to take and collect mobile phone pictures at key areas in the game. You can also go back at any time during your adventure and review the pictures you’ve taken to revisit some of the many memorable scenes throughout your journey. One of my favorite experiences takes place in the later stages of the game, where both Chloe and Nadine have the “opportunity” to ride an elephant. Needless to say, it was one of those moments when you just want to sit back and simply enjoy the experience. It was very reminiscent to me of the experience I had when I encountered the giraffes in Naughty Dog’s other IP, The Last of Us. Naughty Dog has a way of truly evoking emotional experiences simply by utilizing the environment around you.

The game does offer a multiplayer co-op “Survival Arena Mode”, but in all honesty multiplayer has never been a personal draw for me in the Uncharted series. Its inclusion is always welcome for those looking for that type of experience, but just isn’t something for me.

While the game is labeled as a stand-alone expansion, it never feels like anything other than the next installment of the Uncharted series. The production value is as strong as always, the characters are fully fleshed out, and the cut scenes are extraordinary. It is reminiscent of going to see a blockbuster action movie. The gameplay is shorter than previous installments (clocking in around 6 hours depending on how long some of the in-game puzzles take you), but it never felt as though it was too short. You are getting a ton of bang for your buck with this installment. On the Playstation 4 Pro, I didn’t experience any lags or frame-rate issues, but your mileage may vary. For complete transparency Naughty Dog did provide this game to me for free to review.

What I liked: Beautiful imagery, Exciting climbing experiences, Story

What I liked less: Will this really be the end of the series?

4.5 out of 5 stars