Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves is an Excellent Reminder We Don’t Need More Uncharted

The series ended on a high note. Let its heroes stay retired.

Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is an oddity. Even after joyously replaying Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the entries it includes, packaging the two final games of a series without the three games that came before is a strange thing to put on a store shelf. Releases like 2015’s Nathan Drake Collection on PlayStation 4 were meant to overcome backward compatibility restrictions and let people play older games on a system that didn’t support them. Meanwhile, Legacy of Thieves brings games that are readily playable on the PlayStation 5 through backward compatibility, but now it’s natively on the system with some light facelifts and smoother frame rate options, the likes of which we’ve gotten as free updates on other PlayStation exclusives. This also will double as the Uncharted series’ debut on PC later this year, but as it includes only the fourth and fifth games in the series, any newcomer is missing some crucial context.

Though it’s not lost on me that a movie starring these games’ protagonists Nathan Drake and Chloe Frazer is right around the corner. The collection even comes with a ticket to the film, and bringing old games to new systems is a pretty simple way to raise interest in another project Sony is putting into the world. So is the Legacy of Thieves Collection an easy way to cash in on a franchise ready for a second wind? Maybe. But movie aside, my recommendation of the collection depends on which camp you fall into:

  • Are you coming into the series fresh? Play the Nathan Drake Collection first. It’s cheap these days, playable on PlayStation 5, and Legacy of Thieves feels incomplete without those original three games. Just know those first entries are very much products of the PlayStation 3 era, and a whole lot has happened in video games since.
  • Are you a PC player who’s never played Uncharted before and wants to see what all the fuss is about? Crucially, the PC version isn’t out yet and I played the collection on PS5. But if you don’t have access to a PlayStation system to play the first three games, I’d be hesitant to recommend you jump in at the final act. Unless you watched the cutscenes on YouTube, or something.
  • Are you looking for a reason to revisit Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy? These are the best versions, and if you own the PS4 originals, you can upgrade to the PS5 versions for $10.
  • Is there anything that’s going to sell you on either game if you didn’t have any interest before? Probably not. These are the same games just running at a higher frame rate and resolution.

Though the collection’s place as a product is questionable, what it represents as a collection of two very specific Uncharted games has me thinking about the note the series left on five years ago.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End marked the end of an era. It concluded the story of Nathan Drake in a more methodical, pensive game compared to its predecessors. Uncharted 3 hinted at revelations that would be central to the sequel, but much of that was an internal struggle tacitly acknowledged. It was a strong send-off that didn’t necessarily need a fourth game to extrapolate on it. When Uncharted 4 came out, clearly influenced by Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, I was pleasantly surprised with how reflective it was on the life of a man who mostly winked at the camera for his first two games. This came from the introduction of Nate’s brother Sam, who had been presumed dead for 15 years. He’s a character frozen in amber and embodying some of his brother’s worst tendencies as he drags him into another adventure. It’s the first time Nate has been the reasonable one in the room, and it perfectly illustrates how the character grew in the years since he first went looking for Sir Frances Drake’s coffin.

The Last of Us’ influence was felt in more than just Uncharted 4’s tone; it’s also felt in its revamping of mechanics and systems that had only seen marginal changes throughout the first three Uncharted games. From a retooling of the game’s stealth mechanics to more open-ended level design, Uncharted 4 is the most meaningful iteration from a systemic level — and Legacy of Thieves’ technical updates help everything coalesce into the breeziest, most enjoyable playthrough I’ve had of the game since it launched six years ago. And that’s coming from someone who already held the game in high regard before I played it again on PlayStation 5.

But Uncharted 4 didn’t just come out after The Last of Us — it came out after Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, which it feels like Naughty Dog also pulled from when it came to how Nate navigates the world. From climbing, using tools to scale the environment, and even driving vehicles, traversal feels more fluid than ever, and without a competitor of Tomb Raider’s caliber, Uncharted 4’s movement may not have felt as graceful. Well, as graceful as a clumsy, well-meaning doofus like Nathan Drake is capable of emulating.

You may also like:

All of those lessons learned from The Last of Us and Tomb Raider are neatly and concisely reaffirmed in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, a DLC-turned-full game starring Chloe Frazer, who had been a supporting character in previous games, but was notably absent from Uncharted 4’s closure and introspection. It follows Chloe as she searches for the Tusk of Ganesh, an obsession of her father’s turned obsession of hers. Lost Legacy fills out a character who existed primarily in relation to those around her, so giving her a full game to be the hero feels like making up for four games of pushing her to the side.

After giving Nate, Chloe, all their associated friends and family, and players a chance to reflect on a decade of treasure hunting, Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy collectively feel like a beautiful, natural conclusion to a franchise. Both games, systemically and narratively, have a sense of finality, but there are reports that Sony has been looking to create another game in the series. While the fate of that reportedly canceled Uncharted game is unknown, after replaying Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy, I’m more convinced than ever that nothing else needs to be said. Legacy of Thieves is an incomplete collection, but it does capture a moment in the series’ lifetime that focused less on finding the next adventure and more on being content with the riches in both family and fortune you’ve already found. And I hope that, even with a movie on the way, someone in a meeting room at Sony and Naughty Dog is keeping that lesson in mind. Some things deserve to go out on a reflective high note, rather than being dragged back into the gunfire and action setpieces again.

RELATED ARTICLES