For reasons that fans will need to discover for themselves, Uncharted protagonist Nathan Drake has hung up his holster for the last time. The Uncharted universe, on the other hand, is still ripe with adventure, and there is more than one quirky thief in the series’ colorful cast of characters that’s out to make a buck. In steps Chloe Frazer—full-time treasure hunter and one-time Nathan Drake love interest—at the helm of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the new stand-alone expansion to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It may not quite reach Uncharted 4’s level of narrative depth and scale, but it is still head and shoulders above many other fully independent titles out there.
The Lost Legacy occurs shortly after the events of Uncharted 4, but players are given little pretext before being dropped into Chloe’s world. This latest adventure takes place in India, and almost immediately after landing in the new hostile territory, players are introduced to Chloe’s support character, Nadine Rose. Fans will remember her as the antagonist leading the Shoreline PMC from Uncharted 4. Ross has fallen on some hard times—no thanks to Nathan Drake—and Chloe takes advantage of Nadine’s predicament by offering her the chance to join a hunt for a mystical artifact. The artifact in question is the Tusk of Ganesh, a priceless antiquity that could solve both women’s financial woes. Unfortunately, it swiftly becomes apparent that an Indian rebel leader named Asav is on the hunt for the Tusk as well, setting up a familiar race to the finish storyline.
All the major players and their motives are established fairly early on in this enterprise. Chloe brings Nadine along, not only because of her skills, but because she also has history with, and knowledge of, Asav and his operation. While Chloe has no personal history with the tyrant, the fact that both Chloe and Asav share heritage from the region gives them their own interesting relationship. Unfortunately, these connections breed little more than idle conversation over the course of the campaign. It would have been more engaging to see each woman’s respective connection to Asav produce something greater than a supplemental source of tension every time the trio came together.
This might have been a problem if the performances by each of the three major characters weren’t so strongly delivered. It’s admittedly hard to imagine someone “quippier” than Nathan Drake who wouldn’t prove to be downright insufferable, but Chloe achieves this in an appealingly comedic manner that comes off more pragmatic than smug. Nadine also puts on a good show, with her stern nature only occasionally giving in to Chloe’s wit, and Asav is arguably the most intimidating Uncharted villain to date, whose intelligence and fortitude give his placid articulation a menacing essence.
With Chloe and Nadine’s strong presence, fans assuredly want to know what other Uncharted characters might be in store for them with The Lost Legacy. It should be stated that the developers did not outright lie to us after all; there is no Nathan Drake anywhere to be found in The Lost Legacy. That said, Chloe and Nadine may not be the only characters from Uncharted 4 that show up during the adventure. The two leads occasionally bring up the events of the previous game—either through clever asides or more direct references—but apart from another recognizable face that may or may not show up, The Lost Legacy is a relatively self-contained experience.
Being self-contained, The Lost Legacy is rather abrupt in how it starts and ends. This doesn’t necessarily taint the core experience, but it does give it the sense of having less impact on the series at large. The vast majority of the campaign unravels in a small region of India called the Western Ghats, where our heroes are tracking down the Tusk. This limited territorial capacity may sound unusual for the globe-trotting Uncharted series, but the region’s beautiful landscape and culture provide an effective backdrop that does the series’ exotic nature proud. What is more, the overall story progression follows a sequence of events that many will find curiously familiar. Most veteran fans could likely plot out the general narrative stages of the game, as it reliably follows popular Uncharted trends. In the game’s defense, this formula works perfectly fine to encapsulate what The Lost Legacy has to offer, and again, it is made that much better with its stellar cast along for the ride.
Every Uncharted game focuses on a particular historical myth that plays out in conjunction with the modern narrative, and The Lost Legacy is no different. The mythology dictating Chloe’s actions is like the overarching storyline in that its scope is also comparatively confined. Players only learn of one significant but short instance of Indian myth, pertaining to how the Indian god Ganesh lost his tusk. Previous Uncharted games featured elaborate historical tales that frequently evolved as the player uncovered new information. The Lost Legacy’s mythology is equally intriguing, just notably more restrained. The novelty of the game’s choice in mythology, however, may very well make up for its brevity. This may not be the case for everyone, but Indian mythology generally feels like a lesser-known genre of lore. The various lost cities sought after in previous Uncharted installments came with more popular legends tied to them, but The Lost Legacy chose to direct its efforts down a less conventional path, from which fans may be more likely to learn something new.
Its story and setting give The Lost Legacy a unique identity, but it is in the gameplay that Uncharted fans will find the core staples they know and love. Asav’s forces can be taken out through the series’ popular third-person shooter combat, with cover mechanics and flexible platforming giving players complete reign over the combat environment. For a more subtle approach, intricate stealth gameplay—fine tuned by Uncharted 4—allows players to dispatch enemies more methodically with marking and stealth takedowns. Both tactics are equally fun and effective, only rarely marred by the returning issue of one button controlling both the dodge roll and cover action, which can easily lead to the character performing the wrong maneuver in the heat of combat.
The adventure side of this action-adventure also pulls heavily from Uncharted 4. The majestic scenery and ancient architecture well suits the spectacular platforming that the series is known for. As players leap and climb through the game, they will regularly come upon intricate puzzles blocking their path. Like the Uncharted games before it, The Lost Legacy’s puzzles require a satisfying balance of critical thinking and dexterity. Series fans will find the gameplay pillars of combat, platforming, and puzzle solving to be more of the same, but pulling from such a quality source makes this work wholly in The Lost Legacy’s favor. The experience truly excels when its various gameplay staples collide in trademark Uncharted set pieces, such as moments when the player is challenged to complex platforming while under fire. The game is simple in its elements, but extraordinary in its execution.
The Lost Legacy lands comfortably in the zone of familiar Uncharted gameplay, but that is not to say there is nothing new brought to the table. A lock-picking minigame plays a small role throughout the adventure, primarily challenging players to unlock chests that generally contain a variety of weapons exclusive to the stand-alone expansion. These chests and weapons really come into play in The Lost Legacy’s free-roam environment. While the majority of the game follows a linear progression, a substantial part of The Lost Legacy has players explore an open environment, made easier to navigate with a drivable jeep. It is very similar to the free-roam zones in Uncharted 4, but with unique side objectives and new territory to explore. The zone is littered with patrols of Asav’s men, which the player can choose to engage or pass by. When fighting enemies—in the open environment or along the game’s story-directed path—players will find Nadine to be a much more offensively inclined support character than those of past games. She never gets in the way, but she can often be the reason the player makes it through a fight alive. The Lost Legacy’s deviations from the series are mild, but they’re enough to give the expansion an identity while still feeling a direct kinship with Uncharted 4.
Players will find even fewer changes in the multiplayer of The Lost Legacy, as it smartly piggybacks off of Uncharted 4’s online experience. The entirety of Uncharted 4’s fast-paced multiplayer is found on-disc, complete with a huge selection of modes, and any progress returning fans have made in Uncharted 4 can be continued. A few new multiplayer cosmetic items come bundled with The Lost Legacy, but the biggest addition is the Survival Arena. Uncharted 4’s post-launch Survival mode introduced a wave-based survival endeavor in which players must last through fifty waves of enemies on a variety of maps, with boss enemies dropping in every few rounds. Survival Arena takes that Survival mode and cuts it into more bite-sized chunks. Instead of a fifty-wave marathon, the Arena variant has players take on ten challenging waves of hostiles on one random map with several new round modifiers. The Lost Legacy could have foregone a multiplayer component all together, but connecting it to Uncharted 4 cleverly breathes new life into one of last year’s most enticing competitive scenes.
The Lost Legacy is still, at its core, an expansion on Uncharted 4, and when you are jumping-off point is a game of such a high caliber, it can be hard to escape its shadow. Clocking in at about half the playtime of its parent game, The Lost Legacy doesn’t satiate quite to the extent of a full-blown sequel, but judged on its own merits, it is an exceedingly enjoyable undertaking that asks for less than other comparable titles while giving out more. Whether or not this is our last dalliance with the Uncharted series, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy does its predecessors proud.
|Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment • Developer: Naughty Dog • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 08.22.17|
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy honors its parentage with engaging characters and exotic landscapes, setting the stage for more of the best action gameplay out there. It’s much of the same, but that’s OK when “the same” is this good.
|The Good||Beautiful environments and a well-defined heroine serve as excellent vehicles for this adventure.|
|The Bad||There is plenty to love about The Lost Legacy’s narrative, but returning fans may find it a bit predictable.|
|The Ugly||Not our leading ladies, because they’re easy on the eyes.|
|Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a PS4 exclusive. Review code was provided by Sony for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.|