The Last of Us Part II is amazing, but I always thought Uncharted 4 was the better Naughty Dog game on PS4. So, imagine my excitement when this remaster and subsequent PC port was announced!
Nathan Drake’s final chapter and the continuation of Chloe Frazer’s story are combined and upgraded in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, at a cost of $50/£40 for first-time buyers or $10/£10 for those who own the originals.
Are the upgrades worth the additional cost? Should first timers drop their cash on this? Let’s find out.
Arte et labore
Like many PS5 remasters of older PS4 titles, Uncharted really benefits from the more powerful hardware. The Legacy of Thieves Collection gives you a choice between three graphics options:
- Fidelity Mode: Full 4K at 30 fps
- Performance Mode: 1440p resolution upscaled to 4K at 60 fps
- Performance+ Mode: 1080p at 120 fps
I don’t have a setup to test Performance+, but the increase to 60 fps is a night and day difference in fluidity. It makes the more intense moments of grappling hook/shooting action much smoother to play, and the drop off to 1440p from full 4K is negligible.
Not only that, but loading times are far faster, the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are used effectively and the sound has been upgraded with 3D audio.
All in all, this is a fun romp to dive back into with a nice new lick of paint, but there are some questions I’d raise here. First, what gives with the lack of multiplayer? I know not many people went online with this game, but the mode was a lot of fun for the community it had. To cut it entirely is a little gutting.
And second, in a time of free upgrades, Xbox’s smart delivery functionality and lower-price remasters, is $50/£50 really a fair cost to newcomers to Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy?
I’ll throw Naughty Dog a bone here (pardon the pun), as the $10/£10 upgrade cost for those who already own both games (PS Plus collection version of Uncharted 4 doesn’t count) is a worthwhile investment to relive these games again in a higher level of visual glory.
For newcomers, however, I’d wait until it gets cheaper on one of the many sales days coming up. If you need to scratch the itch, as I alluded to earlier, you can play the PS4 version of Uncharted 4 as part of a PS Plus subscription, which is a far more effective use of your money.
But tweaks aside, the fact this game exists means I get to talk about the story — something I’ve wanted to do for so long.
De nobis fabula narratur
Across the first three core games (four if you include the PS Vita’s Golden Abyss), Uncharted told a pretty generic paint-by-numbers story, which managed to stand out because of the impeccable acting.
The characters felt different to anyone portrayed in the past, thanks to advancements in motion capture technology and the acting chops of Nolan North, Troy Baker and Emily Rose, to name a few.
Then Naughty Dog released The Last of Us upon the world and showed us what is possible if you have a really good story and acting working hand in hand. In a word: gold. I believe the team learnt so much from this experience, which led to the master stroke that is Uncharted 4.
Don’t get me wrong, the fantastical set pieces are still here, but there are so many more subtle moments and emotional hooks at play throughout this plot that it’s impossible for anyone to not connect with it in some deep, meaningful way. This isn’t your average action adventure romp. It’s a fascinating exploration of the human spirit.
Over the 16 to 20 hours of this instalment, the narrative touches on important themes like family, sacrifice and the search for a simpler life. Most impressively, Naughty Dog even touches on the destructive nature of obsession with parallel plots of your own hunt for the treasure stretching relationships between characters to the breaking point, and a breadcrumb trail of notes left behind by the pirates, showing you where unquenchable desire leads.
Combine all of that with flashbacks that explore an interesting thing about life that I’ve certainly noticed in my thirties — the more things change, the more they stay the same — along with a fitting end to Nathan’s saga that seriously sticks the landing, and you have a story that you will remember for a long time to come.
The Lost Legacy expansion is a little more traditional, with no real existential questions asked throughout it, but the relationship between Chloe Frazer (Claudia Black) and Nadine Ross (Laura Bailey) running throughout it makes this a thoroughly enjoyable romp through beautiful locations with a great bad guy to conquer in the end. Nothing special, but still a lot of fun.
Morte magis metuenda senectus
With pacing problems and nearly six years of space to think since the original Uncharted 4 release, you start to realize that these are not issues that can be fixed easily. They can only be fixed by tearing down the current structure that has existed since the original Uncharted game 15 years ago, and rebuilding it entirely.
At the end of the day, Naughty Dog games have religiously stuck to this linear formula for years. To put it crudely: the formula is a series of glorified cutscenes that you climb up walls listening to, as you head towards the next combat scenario or puzzle.
Don’t get me wrong, the attention paid to these moments from the incredible acting to the gorgeous vistas you navigate helps them go down better, but once you notice this, it’s impossible to ignore — like when you spot the aspect ratio changing in The Dark Knight Rises, as black bars randomly appear.
Something new is needed. Maybe it’s a vast expansion of their non-linear sections, like the Western Ghats in Lost Legacy, or the first part of Seattle in The Last of Us Part II. Maybe it’s a doubling down on the linearity and a new IP with a fresh story. Maybe it’s telling a gripping story like this in a multiplayer space.
Whatever it is, Naughty Dog’s ambition shown over the Uncharted series and The Last of Us proves that it’s up to the challenge to reinvigorate and respawn even stronger.
I said it to my friends in 2016 and I’ll say it again in 2022: Uncharted 4 is one of the best stories told in games over the last decade. The action is as bonkers as it is memorable, the story’s ebbs and flows are handled with expert precision to grab you from the word “go,” and you come away from it feeling like this is a fitting conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story arc.
This comes paired with The Lost Legacy, a host of performance improvements and PS5 upgrades to make for a nice package to revisit these games, bar the disappearance of multiplayer. If you’ve played (and loved) these games in the past, then I’d say it’s worth the $10 upgrade.
Whatever your reason is to not have either of these Uncharted games currently in your library to get this cheaper upgrade (new to the series, borrowed it from a friend, etc), scratch that action/adventure itch with the original on PS Plus collection and wait for the price to drop in a sale before buying, because 50 bucks is too much.
In the end, though, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is a well-earned victory lap before retiring the aging linear structure. I wish the talented team at Naughty Dog all the best in trying to figure out what the next step is for linear action adventure games.