I’ve got a confession to make: I never played Uncharted: The Lost Legacy when it was released on PS4.
I’ve always been a bit skeptical about spin-off titles in any medium – be that the Marvel TV shows or the never-ending line of Pokémon games that don’t explicitly involve lobbing Pokéballs at pocketable monsters. Having just wrapped up the fourth, seemingly-final Uncharted game, A Thief’s End, I felt like I’d done my time not only with the grave-robbing treasure hunters, but with the franchise as a whole.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy were originally PS4 games. Though their presentation has been improved for the Legacy of Thieves collection, the games themselves remain essentially unchanged. For our full review of each, check out the links below:
And so the PS5 remastering of both titles, together under the banner “Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves”, naturally serves to not only challenge that stance, but bowl it over. Playing Legacy of Thieves taught me two things: that Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is ace, and that the PS5 is ready for a brand-new Uncharted game.
But let’s get the pleasantries out of the way first then – you’re probably wondering how these games run on Sony’s latest and greatest hardware. Uncharted 4 was, is, and remains an absolute high-water mark in interactive entertainment. The concluding act in the story of treasure-chasing Nathan Drake’s career deftly wields Hollywood-grade set pieces with a quippy, heartfelt script that would make Marvel’s Russo brothers proud. Developers Naughty Dog had long peddled games that were every bit the equal of their movie inspiration, but the polish and visual fidelity of A Thief’s End made it truly something special.
If it’s possible to elevate those plaudits further, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves does so. Everything about Uncharted 4 is just as good as you remember, but now buoyed by the power of PS5. You’ve got a 4K / 30fps fidelity mode that ups the resolution for pin-sharp detail, but the real significant change comes with the higher frame rate options.
I thought these might run counter to Uncharted’s core-appeal – aping the likes of Indiana Jones, a more filmic 30fps may have been the most suitable approach.
But the smoothness of the “Performance” and “Performance Plus” visual options of the Legacy of Thieves package are a revelation. With improved responsiveness, the 1440p / 60fps option does little to dull the game’s presentation, and yet is buttery smooth with barely the sign of a dropped frame anywhere. For those with access to a 120Hz HDMI 2.1 TV though, the Performance Plus option’s 120fps play is even more impressive. Even though the 1080p resolution results in a softer overall presentation, it’s still a great-looking game, and the liquid-like movement means that more precise actions, like lining up a headshot, become surprisingly easier.
The game’s Performance Plus mode isn’t a locked 120fps, however, even though it drops to a reduced resolution. But frame rate dips are rare and almost imperceptible. It’s a fantastic achievement, and while the 60fps mode was my preferred middle ground, it’s a dazzling option.
A PS5 Uncharted game
What Legacy of Thieves does excellently, though, is put Lost Legacy on an equal footing with A Thief’s End. It gets the same upgrade treatment and, by virtue of being part of the same package, makes it clear it’s every bit the equal of its stablemate.
In a post-Nate Drake world, Chloe Frasier is a worthy replacement and, much to the shame of my 2017 self’s assumption, Naughty Dog wraps a worthy narrative around her jungle exploring adventures. Yes, it’s much more of the same: wall climbing, grunt sniping, grave-robbing action. But it goes to accentuate that the core gameplay loop Naughty Dog landed upon with its action-adventure titles is greater than the sum of parts that include its franchises’ leading hero – I’d play a game with the Uncharted mechanics with or without this ragtag cast.
As such, the Lost Legacy collection to me proves it’s high time that Naughty Dog get to work on a new “Uncharted” game. I put Uncharted in quotation marks there to highlight that I mean not necessarily a direct sequel, but a spiritual successor with the Uncharted building blocks at its core.
There is power to be mined from the PS5, and as these PS4 upgrades show, there’s mind-bending potential in a game using the Uncharted blueprint built from the ground up for PlayStation 5. The Last of Us may have become Naughty Dog’s most beloved franchise, but the lighter, swashbuckling tone established here is one I desperately want to see revived and super-charged on this new console generation.
Worth the upgrade?
The Lost Legacy is not without fault though – Uncharted 4’s multiplayer mode is missing for starters. It wasn’t the most inspired addition in the first place, but for those that measure the worth of a game by how much it throws at you, that’s a big chunk of gameplay chucked to the scrap heap.
The removal also doesn’t help those uncertain as to whether the remaster is worth the full-price release treatment. These were already great looking games, and with Microsoft letting its greatest Xbox hits run at 60fps with FPS Boost, and some PS4 titles getting free 60fps upgrades (God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone) too, the value here is best measured against the quality of the games themselves which is, thankfully, top notch. Could a 1440p/60fps patch not have been afforded the original PS4 titles, as was the case with The Last of Us 2? We may never know the answer, though a patch certainly wouldn’t have set the cash registers ringing again.
With no new content, and the most progressive 120fps mode addition reserved only for those with the latest television tech, it’s mostly down to the new features to justify the expense. Adaptive triggers and haptic feedback don’t feel hugely additive here, while the surround sound audio of the originals was already impressive with a decent headset, to the point where 3D spatial audio (while excellent) doesn’t feel miles removed from the originals.
As for speedy SSD loading times, from boot it’s massively impressive, but in-game the Uncharted series has always done well to hide its loading screens behind rock slides, crumbling ruins and character blackouts anyway – there’s no fast travel mechanism, for instance, that benefits.
Legacy of Thieves could also have done with a recap option of some sort for those that, like me, hadn’t played the PS3 entries in the series in some ten years or so now. Outside of the games themselves, the bonus content – the kind of which bolsters a classic movie deluxe reissue – is essentially absent. And so you have a package that ticks all the boxes required for a PS5 remaster – spatial audio, DualSense support, improved frame rates – but the extras are pretty barebones. The quality of the games themselves is the essential magnetizing draw again, particularly if you missed them first time around
And so, more than anything else, you are left wanting more. More Drake? More Chloe? Not necessarily – just more Uncharted, with more horsepower behind it.
The Uncharted series is one whose cinematic ambitions have only ever been constrained by the power of the console it’s been presented on. With the PS5, it’s hard to fathom what the series would be capable of, given the impressive display even the original PS3 outing achieved. The franchise’s Latin motto, “Sic Parvis Magna” (thus great things from small things come), may not apply anymore – it’s hard to think of many game series bigger. But with the power of the PS5 behind it, what great things from big things could come?
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Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.