Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is like a mega mix of iconic Uncharted moments. We’re roughly halfway through the standalone side-story – it’s meatier than you may imagine – but an early embargo means that we can share our impressions so far. And it’s good – like, really good. Make no mistake, the mechanics (aside from a new lockpicking system) have been lifted wholesale from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, so playing it does feel familiar. But if you were a fan of that game – we happened to like it a lot – then the brand new plot here starring Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross should pull you in from the off.
The introductory sequence – set in a bustling Indian marketplace – serves as a reminder of two things: Naughty Dog’s engine is in a completely different league to what you typically see on the PlayStation 4, and its eye for cinematography is a cut-above, too. As Chloe haggles with a youngster over the price of a traditional garb, the studio sets out its stall. Essentially, the protagonist is in pursuit of the Tusk of Ganesha – but she’s not the only one. Nadine, who’s had private military company Shoreline wrested from her control, has been brought along for the ride – but she has history with antagonist Asav, an unhinged warlord who’s also after the artefact.
Uncharted has always done digital tourism well, and whether it’s sneaking through the rain-slicked urban areas of India or exploring the more rural Western Ghats, the game transports you to these faraway, foreign locations. This may be a spin-off, but the developer’s art department is dazzlingly on-point – the game plays host to arguably some of the best vistas that the series has seen to date, and it’s possible that it’s upgraded its engine to cope with some of them. Seriously, some of these views stretch on for literal miles – it’s impressive.
But, in the case of the Western Ghats, it’s not just an illusion: this, as reported previously, is the largest location in the brand’s history. And using a familiar-looking 4x4, you’re free to explore it as you see fit. There are landmarks you need to hit in order to further the story, but there are also dozens of standalone puzzles that you can complete in order to collect tokens which feed into a secret item that we won’t spoil. This level alone took us just over three hours to complete, which perhaps gives you an indication of its scale.
But while such a large environment may sound pace-sapping, the studio does a good job of keeping the story moving. Chloe and Nadine barely know each other at this point in the plot, and so any “downtime” is filled with banter. It’s during these moments that the pair share backstory, even touching upon old relationships – including that one with Nate. “How did you decide who talks?” Nadine quips. “Or did you just talk over each other?” The writing is cheeky throughout, even poking fun at past games: “Sam seemed to appear out of thin air,” Chloe winks.
The neat thing about this narrative development is that it ebbs and flows around the action. Shootouts occur regularly in the Western Ghats, and if you need to take time out to deal with some mercenaries, the pair will temporarily pause their conversation, only to seamlessly pick it up again when the coast’s clear. It means that you’re always doing something while the relationship between the two characters is being built, and seeing as the “walking simulator” portions of A Thief’s End proved so divisive, we suspect that this solution may be better received.
But if you didn’t like the gameplay in Uncharted 4, then nothing’s going to change your mind here. It does feel, as you’d expect, extremely familiar – with the same mudslide mechanics and rope-swinging platforming lifted from the main game. Chloe, being a woman, does animate slightly differently to Drake – but her abilities are absolutely identical, aside from the fact that she can pick locks as part of a simple minigame. This system is used in a variety of ways, but mainly you’ll be leveraging it to open up supply boxes for new weapons and treasures.
But that’s why it feels a bit like a mega mix, as we alluded to at the start of this article. In around five hours of play thus far, we’ve scaled collapsing towers, engaged in vertical shootouts, sneaked our way through a city, ran across a rooftop, driven a jeep through a waterfall, and hovered up a dozen or so trinkets scattered across the world. This is everything that makes Uncharted good condensed into a single campaign with a brand new story involving two of its more mysterious characters. And if any of this paragraph appeals, then The Lost Legacy has been made for you. We’ll have a full review soon.
Are you tempted to give Uncharted: The Lost Legacy a try? Are you ready for more of Naughty Dog's adventuring series, or have you been burned out by the brand? Invent a secret sibling in the comments section below.