It’s not often you get to return to a beloved game series in the guise of some of its most memorable villains, but that’s exactly what Naughty Dog does with its latest swashbuckling adventure.
It’s an even ballsier move when it’s none other than Nathan Drake - the de facto face of modern era PlayStation - getting his virtual marching orders. Thankfully, there really is life after Drake, and the end result is a PS4 exclusive that more than earns its upgrade from Uncharted 4 DLC to standalone status.
It’s certainly odd to be inhabiting the world of international artefact theft without the dulcet tones of Nolan North quipping every three to five seconds, but if there’s one thing ND does better than anyone else it’s subverting expectations - and here we’re treated to something far better than a copycat hero.
Instead we get two familiar faces - in this case Uncharted 2’s foil-cum-love interest Chloe and Uncharted 4’s smackdown laying Nadine - who are fleshed out so convincingly you’ll barely notice just how by-the-numbers the action is.
That’s not to say The Lost Legacy is going to bore you any time soon - you’ll explore open-ended jungles, trade bullets with goons amid crumbling ruins and give the Fast & Furious franchise plenty of ideas when it comes to intense vehicular set-pieces - but there’s very little to do in its gorgeous Indian setting that you haven’t experienced in the previous games.
After all, Uncharted 4 set an incredibly high bar when it came to lavish set-piece creativity (come on, did you really think they were going to top that truck chase sequence this soon after U4?), so it’s here that The Lost Legacy makes its single-player DLC origins most obvious.
There are still little improvements to be found, such as those Uncharted 4-esque open areas. The previous game’s vehicular exploration might have looked vast, but it didn’t take long to realise its pretty vistas hid a very linear path with little room for optional routes.
The Lost Legacy hasn’t gone all The Witcher 3 on us and created a huge open-world, but it does attempt to give you greater agency when it comes to traversing large areas and employing stealth to avoid bigger firefights. That’s not to say there aren’t external influences leaving their mark here - that increased optional stealth coupled with the environment design evokes a call back to MGS5 that’s impossible to miss, expanding gameplay beyond endless gung-ho violence.
It’s also the closest Uncharted has ever come to actually transforming into Tomb Raider, the very franchise that its borrowed so much (and vice versa, in recent years) for so long. The eastern setting - especially those lush Indian jungles and lichen-covered Hindu temples - feels like an ode to Tomb Raider of old, something that’s all the palpable when you happen to be playing as a driven, capable and memorable heroine.
Taken hand-in-hand with a greater emphasis on exploration and traversal and The Lost Legacy soon resembles a confident callback to the classic South American hijinx of Drake’s Fortune.
When it comes to story, you can really tell the developer has tried to learn from the (relatively minor) mistakes of the past. Nadine proved by far the better villain in the previous game but was given a criminally low amount of screen time. Here, we get to see more of the woman behind the rage, revealing a guarded character simply trying to find her new place in the world.
Alongside her, Chloe also gets the second outing she’s been so cruelly denied since Among Thieves. She stole the show last time around, and here we’re treated to more than just bravado and simmering sexual tension.
With the ever wonderful Claudia Black back on voice and motion capture duties, we get to peer into the psyche and the past of a character that’s far more interesting and captivating to inhabit than any recent incarnation of Lara Croft.
If you ever needed more proof that Uncharted can work without Nathan Drake in the driving seat, Chloe Frazer is it. Let’s just hope she gets centre stage come the inevitable Uncharted 5. Even main baddie Asav offers a calculated antagonist that’s a far cry from the two dimensional mean folk the series has coughed up thus far.
Visually, whether you’re playing on a vanilla PS4 or a PS4 Pro, The Lost Legacy is a treat. Even with the shorter development time this entry has received in comparison to the rest of the series, Chloe and Nadine’s story is a feast for the ol’ peepers.
Volumetric lighting brings the Indian setting to life in glorious detail and we barely encountered any on-screen artifacting or environment clipping. Both versions lock in at 30fps, but at a solid 1080p on either machine you’re getting that ND seal of approval as standard.
The final code comes complete with a obligatory Horde-style Survival mode and the now as-standard Multiplayer. Neither was available pre-release, but even without any time spent between them, The Lost Legacy is an easy sell.
It won’t surprise you with its action, but it’ll charm you out of house and home with some of the best character development the series has ever produced. Think of it less of a proper sequel and more an interactive novella that more than holds its own among the full fat entries in the series.
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