- Review Price: £25.00
Available August 23 exclusively on PS4
Uncharted 4’s ending left many wondering where Naughty Dog could take the series next. Spoilers: the curtain closing with old-man Drake walking off into the sunset with family in tow meant the idea of the promised single-player DLC could be tricky with Nathan as the lead; we wouldn’t want his hip going out mid-climb. Thankfully, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy brings two new leads, and having spent 45 minutes following Chloe and Nadine’s adventure, it’s clear that the next instalment promises to be just as action-packed.
Initially planned as single-player DLC for Uncharted 4, the project’s rapid expansion in scope meant it quickly became a standalone game. The good news is this means more stuff for the player. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will not only include a brand-new story, but also all of the multiplayer maps released for Uncharted 4, as well as Survival mode. It will also match the PS4 Pro support, with 1440p/30fps in single-player and 1080p/60fps in multiplayer as well as full HDR.
But of course, the real star of the show is the new story, and it looks set to be a stunner.
Chloe Frazer – the mysterious treasure hunter who first appeared in Uncharted 2 – is on a journey to obtain the Golden Tusk of Ganesh, a historic treasure of the Hoysala Empire. However, as you might imagine, she’s not the only person searching for this valuable item, with evil war-monger Asav also looking to get his mitts on the prize. In order to get ahead of the competition, Frazer enlists the help of Nadine Ross, who spent much of Uncharted 4 trying to kill Nathan Drake.
From the story trailer, it appears that Lost Legacy will follow all the usual beats for which Uncharted is renowned, with the same excellent voice acting and set pieces we’ve come to expect. The same is true of gameplay, too, which barring some minor tweaks, is pretty much as it was in Uncharted 4.
This isn’t a bad thing at all. Uncharted 4 is one of the best PS4 games you’ll play, and arguably one of the best on any console, so to have that core gameplay at the centre of a brand-new story is excellent. And from the what I’ve seen, Naughty Dog has continued to broaden its horizons.
The developer has created the largest expanse in Uncharted’s history in the form of the Western Ghats. Chloe and Nadine must explore this gorgeous locale to further unlock the secrets of the empire and find the Golden Tusk, as well as kill plenty of Asav’s troops in order to stay alive. There are three key tombs to explore, as well as a few other optional missions.
The tombs can be completed in any order, and other tasks are entirely optional. The game hands out ‘Hoysala Tokens’, the reward for collecting which is unknown at this point – not that this stopped me from obsessively hunting them down.
The inclusion of side quests and optional tasks is refreshing. Uncharted 4, while offering huge environments, felt like viewing galleries with little to actually do within them beyond the main objective. Uncharted: Lost Legacy gives the landscape purpose. Within minutes of driving around the Ghats in Chloe’s 4×4, I found a group of dilapidated buildings, in the centre of which was a button that activated fountains atop the other towers. The task was to stand on each fountain before the time ran to earn a token. Again, I have no idea what the token offers, but the task was fun regardless.
With tombs located in the north, southeast and southwest, I headed north, and came across yet another optional task. This time a series of bells needed to be shot in order to unlock a door. Trying to find a spot to hit them all was tricky – and did my ears absolutely no favours with the tinnitus-inducing ringing in the overly-loud headphones. But again, these little tasks – and the fact they’re not marked on your map – provide a reason to head out and explore before heading to the main objective.
Speaking of a map, Chloe has an old-school parchment map to read when navigating the Ghats. Much like Drake, she’ll have to refer to it from time to time in order to discover the direction in which she should be heading next. Since I don’t consider myself a dab hand at orienteering, I found myself checking it often; I didn’t want Chloe and Nadine to get into a spat like an old couple looking for the exit to the Tesco car park. Chloe will scribble on it as discoveries are made, providing new waypoints to head for and explore.
She also uses her smartphone to take pictures at certain moments, the images then viewable in her gallery. Unfortunately, you can’t take selfies like you can in Watch Dogs 2, but it’s still a nice touch.
Within the northern tomb you’ll discover a series of raised platforms, placed around giant axe-wielding statues. Landing on each platform will progress the statues through a three-stage sequence, culminating in a swing of their axes across some of the platforms. Only a few of the pedestals are ‘safe’, so knowing where to jump and when is the key to making it to the end. It’s a cool puzzle, but the solution often becomes ‘take the longest route possible and you’ll be safe’.
En route to the second location I came across another ruin, with Asav’s troops having occupied the area. Chloe and Nadine are free to approach these combat situations in either an all-guns-blazing manner, or they can try their hand at being stealthy. I parked the 4×4 behind one of the guard’s trucks, in the back of which was an ammo cache. A new lock-picking system allows you to nick items from these boxes. You could come across treasure, special weapons or ammo, so it’s always worth having a dig around. Lock-picking works as it does in any other game, where rotating the left stick until the controller vibrates opens the lock.
Unfortunately, my stealth skills have always been found wanting, and it wasn’t long before it all kicked off. Uncharted’s combat has never been its strong suit, but it’s steadily improved with each entry, culminating in something that feels both solid and fluid. What’s nice here is that while shooting, a dot will appear within the reticule to let you know where your bullets will land, meaning there’s no more spray-and-pray for long-distance efforts. I was able to take out a sniper stationed in a distant tower with a few burst shots, something that has rarely ever worked in Uncharted before.
Unfortunately, my time was up before I was able to take over the ruins and complete the second and third tombs.
It probably doesn’t take a genius to work out that an Uncharted game is going to be good, especially one that began life as DLC but whose scope expanded to the point that it has become a standalone release. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is interesting since it’s the first time the story has steered away from Drake – and because of this, the unpredictability of the direction in which Naughty Dog will go with the narrative is exciting.
There’s genuine peril for the lead characters. Drake could never die, but will the developer be brave enough to kill off one of these two leads? It certainly has me gripped to see where the story goes come August 23.