Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is now out for everyone and you can hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. In my overall ranking of the Uncharted series, The Lost Legacy comes very close to the top. Nothing can dethrone the sublime magic of Uncharted 2, especially since you can enjoy the remastered version in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, but The Lost Legacy comes close.
It helps that unlike the sprawling Uncharted 4: Thief's End, The Lost Legacy doesn't have to act as the coda to an entire franchise. Uncharted 4 closed out the stories of Nathan Drake, Elena Fisher, and Victor Sullivan, while also introducing a large part of Drake's backstory in the form of his brother, Sam. It was a good ending in my mind, full of action, adventure, and a helping of emotion.
The Lost Legacy doesn't have to worry about any of that. It began as story downloadable content (DLC) for Uncharted 4, before the team behind it felt they could do a bit more. It primarily tells the story of Chloe Frazer, alongside her new partner Nadine Ross. It adds some backstory and color to characters we've seen before, but mostly it focuses on giving them a rip-roaring adventure. Given its origins, the Lost Legacy is paced perfectly; 8-10 hours full of some great action scenes, beautiful vistas, areas to explore, and puzzles to solve. It's a lean experience.
"One of the things we set out to do with this game is the best of the Uncharteds, right? We wanted to bring back all that we love about the Uncharted games," creative director Shaun Escayg told Pushsquare. "And, look, players have grown and evolved – and so has the technology. Likewise, we have with it. So we wanted to get the wonder back – that sense of adventure and being lost and not knowing what's around every corner. In an established franchise that's still doing pretty much the same thing, we wanted to give a different feel to it. So the open world gives this sense of discovery – there's something new at every turn."
In doing so, The Lost Legacy gives Naughty Dog a blueprint for the rest of the series.
More Than a New Drake
The Lost Legacy stars Chloe and Nadine, getting into trouble in search of the Tusk of Ganesh in the wilds of India. What starts as an adventure all about getting a bit of money for an artifact slowly begins to shift towards a journey about something else: Chloe's connection with her past and her home, and Nadine's realization that perhaps being a mercenary isn't what she wants to do with her life.
By time Uncharted 4 rolled around, we knew who Drake was as a person. The question was always, "Is he going to keep making the same mistakes?" My original speculation was perhaps the game would pick up with past or future members of the Drake family, but The Lost Legacy has the right of it. There are so many other heroes in the Uncharted universe that could use a bit of love and respect.
I'm perfectly fine with continuing the excellent partnership of Chloe and Nadine established in The Lost Legacy. They play off each other remarkably well: the free-wheeling thief Chloe, alongside the taciturn and cautious Nadine. It's similar to the Drake/Sully dynamic, but in a different manner (less father/son) and seeing the two slowly come together as more than just colleagues is the highlight of the game.
If they want to leave the pair behind - which I think would be a mistake - there's also room to explore the past of Sully. He appears in flashback in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception as an already-established thief. Sully as a skilled and world-traveling raconteur would be of endless amusement, especially since the whole thing would be a period piece.
There's also Rika Raja, who was Nathan Drake's partner in the Uncharted: Eye of Indra motion comic prequel to the first game. She's the sister of Uncharted villain Eddy Raja and while she helps Drake during the comic, she ends the series by double crossing Nate and Eddy, and making off with the Eye of Indra. Rika never appears in any of the games proper, outside of being one of the characters within Uncharted 2's multiplayer mode.
The point, is there are options and Naughty Dog has room to play around with the franchise.
Part of the Adventure Is in the Exploration
In Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog tried something different, seeing what would happen if you moved away from the series' fairly linear chapters. One chapter takes place in Madagascar, with Nate, Sam, and Sully exploring the open-world region with a Jeep. The problem was Madagascar killed the pacing of the rest of the game and there wasn't much to explore within the region.
The Lost Legacy expands on the concept with India's Western Ghats. Chloe and Nadine still drive around the area with a Jeep, but Naughty Dog offers much more to do this time around. There's treasure to find in the region, several hidden artifacts, and a number of ruins you can tackle in any order, full of puzzles to solve and interesting twists and turns. It feels, frankly, like the player having the chance to explore for once.
"Exploration and trying to bring that sense of and wonder in the game are super-important for me," Escayg told DualShockers. "It was a big deal for me to bring that back to the franchise, since I feel that the earlier games of the series did that really successfully. Also with the puzzles, we have integrated those to open new access points and create different spaces for you to find new stuff. Discovery and exploration are a huge part of this game."
It's worth noting that Uncharted's somewhat rival series, the Tomb Raider reboots, explored this same idea. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, most of the game takes place in Siberia. It's a massive region where Lara Croft has to explore every nook and cranny in search of the lost city of Kitezh. At the same time, it also acts as a survival game, with Lara having to hunt for food and upgrade, while dodging Trinity mercenary patrols.
Uncharted doesn't have to go as far into the idea as Crystal Dynamics did with Rise of the Tomb Raider, but The Lost Legacy's setup is great. Essentially, there are a few chapters of linear adventure, followed by the open-world section, and then we go back to linear adventure. The pacing means the player never really gets tied of either flavor. Action here, exploration there; all in the same game.
I think this idea is something that Uncharted should look towards in the future, providing a solid world that can be explored, dotted with tombs, ruins, and other things to find. Making the exploration feel meaningful, not just a huge trek to waste time.
The Lost Legacy isn't the end of Uncharted. In fact, the game provides a compelling direction for the entire franchise moving forward. Even Naughty Dog knows there's more left in the Uncharted tank.
"I wouldn't say it's the end. This thieving world is huge. There's so many characters. Even before we settled on this particular story we were exploring Sullivan, we were exploring Cutter, and pairing each other up... But to say the Uncharted world is done...I doubt that highly," Escayg said earlier this year.
I'm looking forward to seeing where the adventure takes us next.