What’s Uncharted without Nathan Drake? To put it simply: pretty bloody good, from the looks of things.
Having wrapped up Nate’s story at the conclusion of the aptly-named A Thief’s End, Naughty Dog faced quite a challenge when it came to addressing Uncharted 4’s single-player DLC. Many speculated that Drake’s brother Sam would take the role as protagonist, but instead they elected to go for fan-favourite Chloe Frazer, instead.
Having played close to an hour of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, that choice seems to have paid off. Chloe is, by trade, a character tangled up within the workings of being a bit of an anti-hero. She’s out for herself, and as long as she gets some cash for her work she’ll transition between whoever is willing to dole out money for her services. That said, her sense of humour and interactions with others is undeniably comparative to the loveable Drake and that lends extremely well to the transition between protagonists, at least from what I’ve experienced. Nadine Ross, one of the prime antagonists from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, makes her return in The Lost Legacy as a partner in crime with Chloe, and this dynamic makes for an entertaining back and forth. Taking place after the events of A Thief’s End, Nadine is an outcast from her family’s organisation, Shoreline, and, ultimately, her goal is to show herself as trustworthy once again. It’s one of her main motivations for the conquest she’s on with Chloe, but the two don’t necessarily meet eye to eye. Their motivations are different, and they’re still in the feeling out process of working together, making interactions and banter a fascinating way of delivering necessary backstory for the player.
Dropping in on the game’s fourth chapter, the Western Ghats, I was taken aback by how the series’ linearity was thrown out the window for this outing. The game gave me three places to explore and investigate, but allowed me the freedom to explore them at my own pace and without the need to rush. It’s as if the Madagascar level in A Thief’s End was doubled or tripled in size and scope, and it was an odd feeling to have in a story-driven, linear series like Uncharted.Nevertheless, having made my way around the beautifully-detailed areas of Southern India’s Western Ghats in the jeep (yes, it returns!), I came across my first area and began to explore.
New additions are trickled throughout The Lost Legacy, and come in handy right from the get-go. One of the more notable additions is Chloe’s ability to pick locks, enabling a new way of gathering items, treasures (which are also changed in The Lost Legacy to be a bit tricker to find), and weapons. Other additions include Chloe’s map, which replaces Drake’s journal, and her mobile phone, which can snap photos of areas of importance.
Other than that you can expect a fairly standard Uncharted experience, but that’s not in any way a bad thing. It took me a little bit of time to get back to grips with the game’s controls and the way the grappling hook works (which also returns from A Thief’s End), but other than that you’ll be running, jumping, swinging, and climbing all the same throughout the game’s duration. It feels inherently Uncharted, yet the new location, new characters, and enjoyable gameplay left a good impression after I finished up my hands-on session.
What alarmed me was the way The Lost Legacy’s Western Ghats area allowed me to explore at my own pace. Gone was the strict linearity of past titles, and it made the game feel fresh. While I confirmed with Naughty Dog’s Senior Communications Manager Scott Lowe that Chapter 4 is the only one of its less-linear kind, I still felt the change was something Uncharted really needed. I also had the chance to try out some of the game’s new puzzles, too, and they’re said to be much more of a focus this time around. Both were good fun, but it was the second puzzle, which had me navigating across massive blocks avoiding gargantuan statue strikes, that really blew me away. The intricacies here were that each step on a seperate block I’d take would push a statue into a different kind of motion, of which one would be an attack. As I navigated the area I had to ensure I wasn’t in the attack area when that motion was triggered, and it really required some thought and planning when the third puzzle of this type had five statues all moving in different ways and covering different areas. This was one of the coolest puzzles I’ve ever encountered in a game of this type, and I hope that more of the same is seen in the full game. All that I know was that my hands were sweating profusely having finally made my way out of that area in the preview.
Just like A Thief’s End, combat encounters were diverse and facilitated a range of ways to attack, from stealth to going in guns-blazing. Stealth was, of course, the preferred method for most of my time with the game, but I did enjoy taking a few enemies out with some well-timed grenade throws as well.
Having spent 45 minutes with the game, I left with confidence that Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is shaping up to be something really great. Chloe is a fantastic character that was left unexplored in A Thief’s End, and it feels like Naughty Dog has made the right choice in bringing her back and giving her a chance to take the spotlight. The same can be said about Nadine, who also shares some of the same characteristics Frazer does. They both have different motivations and act in different ways, but it seems to make for an experience that feels fresh and unique to the tried-and-true Uncharted formula. I can’t wait to check out more of Naughty Dog’s latest later this month.