In my opinion, the Uncharted series is an almost perfect franchise. Its stellar landscape, complex characters and fun gameplay never lost its touch—even after four installments. Nathan Drake became one of video games’ biggest icons, having both men and women dream of becoming a globe-trotting adventurer. So when Naughty Dog announced that they would be releasing another Uncharted without Nathan, it was hard not to be skeptical. How could this series keep up its momentum without its biggest star? Well, by doing what it does best: making you have a hell of a good time.
Naughty Dog could have made an Uncharted game starring Victor Sullivan or Sam Drake, but they decided to go with two women of color: Chloe Frazer (the femme fatale of Uncharted 2 and 3) and Nadine Ross (the villainous mercenary from Uncharted 4). This could have been a huge gamble for Naughty Dog because there aren’t exactly that many female-led video games out there (especially with unsexualized female characters). But, thankfully, they persisted and created a game with as much merit as one starring Nathan Drake.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy finds Chloe in India, where she is looking for the mythical Tusk of Ganesh. To help her, she hires Nadine, now a freelance mercenary after losing her company, Shoreline, after the events in Uncharted 4 A Theif’s End. They’re competing with Assav, a vicious warmonger who wants the mythical treasure for his own personal gain. On paper, it sounds like a traditional Uncharted game and narrative, but there is much to explore with not only fresh historical backgrounds, but also the story’s core characters. Chloe is much more than Nathan’s ex-love interest. She’s a cold, shut-off treasure hunter who tries to identify with her Indian heritage while seeking the item her father obsessed over. Nadine, on the other hand, is tough as nails and prefers to kick ass and ask questions later. Despite their differences, they form a friendship that’s as badass as it is touching. The writers don’t just base Chloe and Nadine’s relationship on beating up men; they bring their insecurities and pasts out in the open to develop conflict and tension.
Gameplay-wise, this is a very much the usual Uncharted experience. You get to scale rocks, swing from vines and take on generic enemies with a variety of weapons. Because this is Naughty Dog’s equivalent to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, The Lost Legacy is considered “extended DLC” instead of a full-length game, and it makes sense that the developer would stick to their roots instead of creating something new for only 10 hours of gameplay. However, Naughty Dog still manages to add a new little tidbit in The Lost Legacy. It creates the biggest Uncharted level in the franchise: the luscious Indian jungles. Similar to the Madagascar set in Uncharted 4, players are able to take time in this sandbox level to drive in big, open spaces to get to their destination and come across extras as they progress.
However, despite the breathtaking scenery, the level feels very uninspired and bland. By the time you find the game’s final temple, you are just praying that you don’t have to drive around anymore.
Intricate puzzles are also present in the game, giving players a break from gunfire and rock climbing. Some of them can be head scratchers and take up more time than you’d like them to, but they tie in with the historical settings very well. The puzzles require players to find the solutions in the smallest environmental details. While some of them are pains in the ass, I applaud Naughty Dog for the effort.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is not a game changer, nor does it try to be. It has everything that we love about the series: superb storytelling, complex character development and copious amounts of action. Nadine and Chloe’s relationship is, by far, the most interesting part of the game as it allows us to get into the heads of these once minor characters. I’m not sure if this DLC was a way for Naughty Dog to test the waters with female leads, but if it was, it passed for me. After around 10 hours of gameplay, I want more Chloe Frazer, and I hope I don’t have to wait for another Nathan Drake title to see her.
I hope that this voyage into the unknown as a Drake-less Uncharted world will pay off, because if anything it is an indicator that the world building by Naughty Dog works at it’s core, the detail remains unparalleled, and gameplay of the highest, blood pumping caliber.