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A worthy encore – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review

We said our heartfelt goodbyes to Nathan Drake and his family in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, spelling what we thought was the end for Naughty Dog’s amazing series, but as luck would have it, there are still stories to tell. Originally planned as optional downloadable content for Uncharted 4, The Lost Legacy is something new entirely – it’s the shot in the arm the series needs to take the adventure in a new direction and with new faces.

With Nathan out of the picture, Legacy focuses on a story from Drake’s past — Chloe Frazer. You might remember Frazer as the on-again, off-again sometime ally of Drake, first popping up in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Chloe, part of a group of thieves intent on a heist in London, pops up briefly in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, but receives only the narrowest of mentions in the most recent title. In Lost Legacy, Chloe takes the mantle of protagonist, but is joined by an even more unlikely face from Drake’s past — Nadine Ross.

When we last ran into Ross (or more accurately, as she repeatedly ran us into walls) she was acting as mercenary leader for Shoreline, and allied with antagonist Rafe Adler. In The Lost Legacy (which starts off in media res), Ross and Frazer team up to find the Golden Tusk of Ganesh, a historic treasure of the Hoysala Empire. Ganesh, or Ganesha, is known as the Indian god of wisdom, and remover of obstacles. Naturally, they aren’t the only ones looking for it. A man named Asav, leader of a large mercenary force of his own, seeks it for his own mysterious ends.

Beyond highly-polished gameplay mechanics, the Uncharted series has been about storyline and character interaction. Chloe is not well known as a dependable and well-reasoned person, and nearly everything we know about Nadine is that, while redeemable (as seen in Uncharted 4), is of questionable motivation and moral standing. Put the two together and the propensity for violence and betrayal is akin to gasoline and matches.

One area where The Lost Legacy cribs from its predecessor is the open world jeep driving seen mostly at the end of Uncharted 4. This ties nicely into a gameplay structure change in Lost Legacy as many of the game’s objectives are not only optional, but can be tackled in any order. Beyond the expansive Western Ghats region, the duo will also have to explore three tombs in the course of their search. These tombs, as well as the optional missions that pop up around them, are somewhat freeform, and are yours to discover. There is no bright beacon on the map saying “mission here!”, instead encouraging players to explore and find them organically. That said, the game isn’t a giant sandbox – the momentum that you’ve come to expect out of an Uncharted adventure is alive and well here.

The jeep is central to moving around the expansive Western Ghats.

Visually, there are few games on any platform (PC included), that can compete with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. The series has always stood at the bleeding edge of graphical fidelity. Uncharted 4 was a graphical triumph, and another year on the engine and platform has only added a new coat of polish. Additionally, as a first-party published game, you can be certain that Uncharted: The Lost Legacy supports the PlayStation 4 Pro. Running at 1440p / 30fps, and with full HDR support, the game looks absolutely gorgeous on Sony’s flagship platform. Multiplayer clocks in at 1080p, but pushes the framerate up to 60fps. On a standard PS4, the single player game runs at 30fps, though I did encounter a few moments where that wobbled.

One aspect that has not changed is that Uncharted: The Lost Legacy can be played guns blazing or in a stealthy way, with the former being far more difficult than the latter. Still, the game presents amazing set pieces and simply asks the player to experience them in any way that they choose. That said, the addition of silenced weapons changes the dynamic a bit, granting additional opportunities for stealth.

The exact opposite of stealth…

Chloe has a different approach to her adventures than Nathan, and that is reflected in what she carries in her pack. Gone is Nathan’s “magic journal” that provided notes and generally guided the player on puzzles. Instead, Chloe carries a map that lets her mark areas of note for later investigation. She also carries a cell phone (how many times would that have been useful in this series?!) which she can use to take photos of objects and beautiful vistas that she can then use as reminders of clues for later. Chloe, in line with her general nature, also carries lockpicks that allow her to crack open locked supply crates for weapons, ammunition, and treasures.

The cell phone replaces Nathan’s journal.

As you might recall, Nadine does a fantastic job of beating Nathan Drake about the face in nearly every encounter, despite his best efforts. Her martial prowess is frequently on display as she effortlessly dispatches mercenaries quietly and efficiently. Seeing her rush from the shadows to choke one guard, whipping a kick into the neck of the one adjacent, snap the first guy’s neck, and whip them both off a cliff without so much as breaking a sweat, makes it very clear that Nathan never had a sidekick that was ever as preeminently dangerous as Nadine Ross.

Like the previous Uncharted games, while the action is engaging and pulse-pounding, it’s the quiet moments that really make the series great. Tense cutscenes, snappy writing, and the excellent voice work of Claudia Black as Chloe, Laura Bailey as Nadine, and Usman Ally as Asav, as well as a great supporting cast backing them, bring the game to life. The tension between the co-protagonists, and the wonderful backstory of how Chloe becomes somewhat apathetic to her own culture, becoming a thief, and how she copes with pain and loss, create a deep foundation on which to build her very interesting story.

As in other Uncharted games, the storyline is rock solid.

Clocking in at roughly a dozen hours (multiplayer excluded), Uncharted: The Lost Legacy can stand on its own. Beyond the stellar storyline, the game also includes an opportunity to play with your friends. To ensure that the multiplayer fanbase isn’t fractured, the same content that was present in Uncharted 4 is included in The Lost Legacy as well. All of the multiplayer and survival mode maps are cross-compatible with Uncharted 4, meaning all progress, unlocks, and loadouts will carry over seamlessly. Beyond that, the game also features a new Survival Arena mode for up to three players, tackling dynamic Horde-mode-esque waves of baddies, culminating in boss battles. Additionally, skins to play as antagonist Asav, as well as Chloe, Nadine, and a few surprise characters appear alongside a new Cinema Replay tool, allowing capture and replay of your multiplayer games with all the photo tools have come to expect from a Naughty Dog title.

The Western Ghats mountain range (better known as the Benevolent Mountains) of India is a gorgeous play space. Beyond being your territory to tear around in your rented jeep, and outside of the 100 collectables, are Hoysala Tokens. These provide an opportunity to grow the relationship between Chloe and Nadine, but they also make Chloe more relatable and human. If you snap up all eleven of them, you’ll also snap up something special, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

Sweet delicious loot, and the promise of more to come!

If I went into Uncharted: The Lost Legacy with a concern, it’s that the recently-announced sequel to The Last of Us would steal focus, leaving us with something less than the best from Naughty Dog. I hereby heartily apologize for any such misgivings, and am happy to reassure all of you that the quality you’ve come to expect from the team is on full display here.

95

Excellent

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

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While I will continue to miss Sully, Nathan, Elena, and young would-be adventurer Cassie, The Lost Legacy is another amazing adventure in the living Uncharted world. Whether it spells the start of a new direction for the series, or a fun encore, it’s an excellent experience for any Uncharted fan.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).

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