UNCHARTED: THE LOST LEGACY
Ian Dean enjoys Uncharted’s open world
Our final hands-on assessment before Chloe’s adventure properly begins.
We only review finished games, so in Viewpoint we go hands-on with near-final code of a game that has just missed our review deadline. Ian Dean is an Uncharted fan, he’s followed Nathan Drake around the world, and this is his conclusive pre-release verdict. Returning to the Uncharted-verse is like welcoming back an old friend, only there’s a Nate-shaped hole in the world. But I don’t care, because the new partnership of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross is as engaging as anything Naughty Dog has created in the past. It’s the dynamic between the two leads that holds everything together: Frazer is self-centred and mischievous, a survivor used to putting herself first; Ross a pragmatic soldier driven by a need to save face. The game needs them, too, as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is taking risks with the series’ rollercoaster formula that, without a sharp script, could come off the rails. The big change comes as the pair enter India’s Western Ghats, a vast map filled with loot, secret locations, enemy encounters, and puzzle towers. There’s no clear path, which means I’m free to explore and tackle the ‘story’ sections in any order. This is Uncharted 4’s Madagascar map freed from its tunnel vision safety net. While Nate’s 4x4 jeep excursion funnelled you from one encounter to the next, here I decide how and when to follow the narrative.
Swiping on the Touch Pad opens Frazer’s map. It’s big, roughly four times the size of Madagascar, making up around four hours of the game’s eight-hour playtime. The map is essential in this vast expanse of tumbling waterfalls, ancient undiscovered tombs, and underwater caverns. As sites are discovered they’re scribbled down, and there’s plenty to uncover.
The main focus is to find and conquer three ‘towers’ that relate to an ancient relic found earlier in the game. Each location is teeming with Asav’s private militia. So this is my first conundrum: do I go in heavy and rely on Ross’ skills, or play to Frazer’s strengths and take a stealthier approach? Before I dive in, I spy a hidden ammo crate. After picking the lock I’m rewarded with a silenced pistol. My mind has been made up for me – I’m are going in quietly. The first guards are taken out from cover, then Ross whispers “shotgun ahead”. As my foe rounds a corner he’s taken down.
It feels Far Cry-lite, but thankfully there are some classic Uncharted moments to offset these encounters, as once cleared of enemies there’s a puzzle-party to enjoy. A door with an ancient lock has Frazer pushing and pulling levers in frustration (the spirit of Nate lives on!) before Ross slaps a carving at the lock’s centre and the door slides open. “It looked like a button”, she quips. I smile; this odd couple is working out nicely.
LOST AND FOUND
In addition to the main events, there are treasures to find. Hoysala Empire tokens are buried, stuck behind walls or deep in hard-to-reach caverns. There are beauty spots and points of interest to be tracked down, or more often stumbled upon, and snapped on Frazer’s mobile phone, which acts as a surrogate for Nate’s journal. Passing a shrine, I can’t resist hopping from the jeep to explore. Seeing a hook point high up a cliff sparks the same need to investigate. The open world structure is perfect for Uncharted.
It works because Naughty Dog hasn’t lost itself in this explorable expanse. The heart of The Lost Legacy is still placing believable characters in exceptional circumstances and watching them sink or swim. After spending ten minutes hunting down a Hoysala token, Frazer’s archaeological instincts shine. She’s pleased with her discovery, Ross meanwhile questions whether going off-piste in search of the trinket was a waste of time. The pair bicker, and the dialogue changes with each map secret I stumble upon.
Offering greater freedom is a brave step forward for the series, but ultimately The Lost Legacy is built on the pillars the series is famous for: believable characters, exotic puzzles, and dramatic encounters. But will it be more than a testbed for Naughty Dog’s next grand adventure? Possibly.
We’ll have our review of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy next issue, out 26 September.
VIEWPOINT “NAUGHTY DOG HASN’T LOST ITSELF IN THIS EXPANSE. THE LOST LEGACY IS STILL ABOUT PLACING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.”
FORMAT PS4 ETA 22 AUG PUB SONY DEV NAUGHTY DOG