Can Uncharted survive without Nathan Drake? That’s the question developer Naughty Dog sets out to answer in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, a side story that extends the franchise past Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which officially brought his story to a close. In the time we spent with the game for our Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review, we found that Uncharted not only works without Nathan Drake, but that its focus on new characters and new perspectives reinvigorates the experience. It may, in fact, be the tightest realization of the Uncharted formula yet.
Lost Legacy focuses on side characters Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, two treasure hunters of questionable morality who have popped up in past games (Chloe is an occasional ally of Nate’s; Nadine kicked his butt a few times in Uncharted 4). Naughty Dog is known for writing solid, interesting characters, and capturing performances to match. Adding a couple of relatively unexplored personalities to the franchise makes spending another 10 or so hours climbing around jungles and shooting bad guys feel fresh in a way that no treasure or exotic locale could.
Chloe Frazer hasn’t appeared much in Uncharted. She’s shown up in many of the games, most notably Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but has never been given much screen time. In Lost Legacy, she’s on a treasure-hunting mission of her own, instead of playing teammate to Nathan Drake.
Much of Lost Legacy is Uncharted business as usual for the franchise. Chloe and Nadine are searching for a legendary city/treasure/artifact (this time in India’s Western Ghats mountain range), using their encyclopedic knowledge of ancient history and incredible upper body strength to scale ancient ruins. A local warlord, Asav, is just one step behind them, hoping to capture it for his own evil ends. He’s got an army behind him, so we’ll have plenty of enemies to shoot.
The difference, the part that makes it worthwhile, is that we spend most of Lost Legacy hanging out Chloe and Nadine. Both characters are flawed, and use all the climbing, shooting and solving puzzles to work through a lot of baggage.
Chloe has major trust issues — she’s the kind of person who’ll bail at the first sign of trouble. Thus, she doesn’t really have any friends. Nadine, meanwhile, lost everything when her private military company, Shoreline, was upended by the events of Uncharted 4. She’s very bitter about being ousted from the business she inherited. Naughty Dog gives both characters some depth to explore as they work together, whip one-liners at each other, and begin to trust one another.
Lost Legacy shows that Uncharted can branch out to tell more and more varied stories.
It’s not a perfect arc. As a sidestory rather than a proper sequel, Naughty Dog expects you to have played the other games, and the story reflects that. You are supposed to know that Chloe’s a bit of a selfish, untrustworthy person at the start of Lost Legacy. If you don’t, her growth as a character is a tougher sell. Nadine has a better path, with Lost Legacy picking up her thread from Uncharted 4 and filling in the gaps in her background to make her a more rounded person.
But despite some hiccups along the way, Lost Legacy maintains the series’ unique charm. The best part of Uncharted has always been spending time with its characters, and around 90 percent of Lost Legacy is just hanging around with two interesting women, being interesting. Lost Legacy shows that Uncharted can branch out to tell more and more varied stories. A greater change in its underlying premise, instead of the usual “race a bad guy to the treasure” setup, would have been nice, but the formula holds.
Shorter, tighter, better
Mechanically speaking, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy isn’t too different from your usual Uncharted, and is specifically very similar to Uncharted 4. The best additions to that game — a grappling hook that lets you swing through battlefields; a combat system that emphasizes both stealthily taking out bad guys and quickly moving around; and a big open area you can explore at your own pace — are back in basically their same form as last time.
That’s partially a result of Lost Legacy starting its life as a downloadable additional episode of Uncharted 4 that morphed into what is essentially a full, separate game. The mechanics and innovations are mostly lifted from the last installment, but Naughty Dog has taken the opportunity to refine them further.
Where previous Uncharted games, and even Uncharted 4, sometimes forced players into irritating bottlenecks that restrict choices, every battle in Lost Legacy is open to interpretation, allowing for a variety of play styles. Every encounter takes place in a smartly built arena that give you plenty of ways to move or swing around to give enemies the slip or outsmart them, offering players lots of choices in how they’ll fight. And every encounter is thoughtfully designed to maximize the Uncharted-ness of how you can complete it.
Lost Legacy work leaves the filler of Uncharted 4 — the circuitous climbing, the excess combat — behind to create a more streamlined experience. Unlike Uncharted 4, which clocked in north of 15 hours or more, we managed to finish Lost Legacy in less than nine, and that includes the time we spent hunting down most of the game’s hidden collectible treasures.
That’s a good thing. Lost Legacy includes both climbing and shooting, of course, they’re just, well, better. Every encounter in Lost Legacy feels like it was made to maximize players’ ability to think about how they want to approach the fight and move around as much as possible. There’s still plenty of climbing, but navigating most areas feels more natural and better designed to challenge you to find the right routes.
Lost Legacy work leaves the filler of Uncharted 4 behind to create a more streamlined experience.
Even the big claim to fame of Lost Legacy, a large open area in the fourth chapter that players explore at their own pace as they drive around in a four-by-four jeep (the largest open area Naughty Dog has ever created), feels like the better-realized version of a previously good idea.
The open Western Ghats area of Lost Legacy includes a whole optional set of collectibles, each tied to minor puzzles, that open a secret if you find them all. It has a few fights to get mixed up in if you feel like it, which are similarly rewarding thanks to special weapons you can find in crates that Chloe can open with a new, light lockpicking mechanic. While there’s a lot to do, the open area never feels like it’s wasting your time — it’s just large enough to feel expansive, without throwing obstacles in your way.
The Lost Legacy includes access to Uncharted 4’s multiplayer. You can play anyone who has either Lost Legacy or Uncharted 4, and your DLC, including a set of new characters who come with Lost Legacy, work across both games.
Uncharted 4 included its own version of the competitive multiplayer mode introduced in Uncharted 2. The mode puts two teams of players in an Uncharted set-piece. As with Uncharted 4, the game’s mechanics create hectic action, though the shooting can feel imprecise in a competitive setting.
You can also play “Survival,” a three-player “Horde”-style co-op mode, where players fight off 50 waves of enemies in a map, while doing things like running around picking up a set of treasures before a timer expires, or defending a small portion of the map from an onslaught of enemies.
Lost Legacy also tosses in “Survival Arena Mode,” a faster and more dynamic version of Survival. It’s only 10 waves long, but each wave introduces changes and modifiers — like every enemy you kill dropping a grenade when they die — that make for a quicker and more hectic experience.
Though the star of the show is the story, adding Uncharted 4’s competitive multiplayer and Survival to the package does make Lost Legacy feel more complete, and adds a lot more to do if you don’t already have Uncharted 4. The game is already priced lower than a usual Uncharted title at $40, even though it’s probably worth the usual $60 price tag. The shorter campaign is a pro rather than a con, and Naughty Dog fills out the rest of the package nicely.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy opens Naughty Dog’s franchise to new possibilities, and the idea of Uncharted as a more episodic series that isn’t tethered to a single protagonist is an exciting one. Lost Legacy doesn’t reinvent Uncharted’s underlying Indiana Jones-meets-Prince of Persia conceit, but it tightens up many of its elements, with better gameplay design and a story that’s clear and thoughtful. This is probably the best Uncharted yet.
Is there a better alternative?
Not really. Uncharted 4 is longer, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. This is Naughty Dog at its best in terms of game design, and the story is a lot of fun as well.
How long will it last?
Our initial playthrough lasted just under nine hours, including some time spent hunting collectibles. There are plenty of optional things to discover along the way, though, like additional conversations between Chloe and Nadine that can flesh out the story.
Lost Legacy also includes three multiplayer modes, which will keep your attention for at least a little while.
Should you buy it?
In short, yes. Action-adventure game fans and anyone who’s even mildly interested in Uncharted will find a lot to like in Lost Legacy. It’s the most refined version of Naughty Dog’s popular franchise at a bargain price, so there’s no reason to hesitate.