Naughty Dog has been pretty candid about Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the studio’s first ever Uncharted spinoff, since it was unveiled last December. But, up until now, nobody has actually played it.
After debuting an action-packed trailer at E3 in June, the studio invited journalists to get their hands on the game for the first time. The verdict? It’s very Uncharted-y—and that’s both good and bad. Here are our first impressions after playing the game for 40 minutes.
Let’s go exploring
Since debuting in 2007, Uncharted has primarily taken a pretty linear approach to exploration, in that there wasn’t actually much exploring to do. That shifted with Uncharted 4, and the studio is taking yet another step toward an “opem” Uncharted world in The Lost Legacy.
The level I played saw Chloe and Nadine exploring a beautiful mountainous region of India, which looked and played similarly to The Twelve Towers chapter in Uncharted 4.
After ascending an ancient tower, Chloe jots down a number of distant landmarks on her map (she doesn’t have a journal because that’s Drake’s thing), after which players are given the freedom to tackle them in any order. Along the way, there are other cracks and crevices to explore, including the incentive to discover treasures that require a puzzle to access.
The level felt absolutely massive and a little overwhelming at first, mainly because I wasn’t being forced down a narrow corridor or up a mountain. If I saw a tower in the distance, I could go to it. In that regard, it felt a little like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but done in a very Naughty Dog way.
This emphasis on nonlinear gameplay extends to stealth and gun fights as well. When you find an enemy encampment, for example, you can choose to engage in multiple ways, from hiding in the bushes to going in guns blazing—or, if you prefer, a combination of the two.
Making The Lost Legacy more open adds to the scale and grandeur of the game. Everything feels big and epic, and in my 40 minutes of play time, I barely scratched the surface—and that was just a single level.
While the emphasis on exploration gives the franchise a much-needed boost, Naughty Dog hasn’t done much to change how the game plays. That’s a good thing for the most part, but Uncharted veterans might find The Lost Legacy to be a little too familiar.
I still got a major kick out of the game’s platforming and gun play. Uncharted 4’s trusty grappling hook is back, too. But, so far as I can tell, there’s nothing new that separates The Lost Legacy from previous Uncharted entries.
The only new gameplay mechanic is Chloe’s lock pick, which she can use to unlock crates for powerful weapons and collectibles. Unless Naughty Dog is keeping gameplay elements under wraps, fans of the franchise will already know exactly how it plays before booting it up next month.
Which I’m completely fine with. Controls are tight and platforming is still as fun as ever. Gunning down hordes of enemies has never been more satisfying either. If you were expecting new mechanics, however, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Chloe and Nadine are a fantastic pair
It’s about time Naughty Dog moved on from Nathan Drake. Since debuting in 2007, Drake has been the franchise’s leading man, a cunning, charismatic hero who travels the world in search of lost artifacts. But his story is done (at least until the Uncharted movie), and I’m glad the studio wasn’t tempted to force him back out of retirement (again).
Featuring a game with Chloe and Nadine feels like a natural evolution for the franchise. Despite playing big roles in previous Uncharted games, we hardly know them, so in a lot of ways, Naughty Dog has the opportunity to give Uncharted a fresh start. If The Lost Legacy does well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another game starring both characters.
As we’ve come to expect from a Naughty Dog game, Chloe and Nadine constantly banter back and forth, often providing context for situations past and present. And because the characters are so different, it’s fun to hear how they react and play off each other.
And they don’t always agree. The two are reluctantly working together, so there’s a constant tension in each exchange, one that Naughty Dog says will explode in a big way. Just because Chloe and Nadine are playing nice doesn’t mean the two won’t stab each other in the back.
That makes for engaging, edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
You’re going to love it
If you loved the first four main Uncharted entries, you’re going to love The Lost Legacy. Although the gameplay feels familiar, there’s a freshness thanks to the emphasis on exploration and the shift Chloe and Nadine.
After seeing the game’s debut trailer last year, I was a little underwhelmed by the possibility of Uncharted DLC. But after playing The Lost Legacy, I’m convinced it’ll be Naughty Dog’s best Uncharted yet.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will be available on August 22 for $40.