My entire time with Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves has been underscored by a question: Why?
Why am I replaying two games — 2016’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and 2017’s Uncharted: The Lost Legacy — I’ve already played multiple times? Why are these games getting a visual makeover when the originals are already some of the best-looking games around? Why are they re-releasing on PlayStation 5 when they’ve already been available for free, or cheap, on the platform? Why are they re-releasing on PC when players on that platform can’t play the first three games there?
And why, despite it all, am I enjoying myself?
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves, first announced at a PlayStation digital showcase in September, is a bundled re-release of the two most recent games in Naughty Dog’s seminal not-Lara Croft series of tomb-raiding games. It’s the first time both are (officially) playable at a butter-smooth 60 frames per second on PlayStation. It’s the first time both are (officially) playable on PC. It comes with a ticket to next month’s movie adaptation.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been intermittently playing Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on PS5 via this nascent collection. It’s felt a whole lot like playing Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on PS4.
Those familiar with the series will know what that means. I, in the rugged boots of charming rogue Nathan Drake or charming rogue Chloe Frazier, have teamed up with charming rogue Samuel Drake to track down inconceivably valuable treasure from long-forgotten ruins. From behind cover, I’ve shot haphazardly imprecise guns at hundreds of redshirts. I’ve tried to be stealthy. I’ve failed. I’ve scaled seaside cliffs with climbing mechanics that feel great but blatantly flip Newton the bird with impossible physics. I’ve inevitably fallen off those cliffs because a handhold crumbled. I’ve been obliterated in Crash Bandicoot. I’ve solved a wide range of environmental puzzles often structured around a three-part formula that gradually reveals itself as I solve each individual part.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the Uncharted games, particularly the most recent two, and I personally consider them modern classics. For an in-depth rundown of what they do right and what little they do wrong — if, of course, you haven’t already played them to death — I’d urge you to read Kotaku’s reviews of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, respectively written by site emeriti Stephen Totilo and Kirk Hamilton. The versions contained in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves are near-identical to the originals; what you’re getting is nothing more or less than those games with souped-up visuals.
And, sure, the visual improvements make an already gorgeous series slightly more gorgeous. As with other PS5 games, be they ports or bona-fide PS5 exclusives, you can swap on the fly between a fidelity mode, which renders the game in 4K at a frame rate locked to 30 fps, or a performance mode, which prioritises a higher frame rate at the expense of fidelity. Even the performance mode looks fantastic, presenting Uncharted’s photorealistic graphics in crisp clarity. (Every screenshot in this post was made using the photo modes of Legacy of Thieves while playing in performance mode.) But such enhancements don’t fundamentally change how these games play.
Thanks to an easy save-file transfer system, if you’ve already experienced the games, you’re literally picking up where you left off. (How strange it was to follow some prompts and resurrect a random save from years ago, picking up in the middle of a rope swing as if I hadn’t missed a beat.) For me, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves has been an excuse to replay some of the best action-adventure games of last generation.
I suppose Legacy of Thieves is meant for PS5 owners who’ve played the first three games but missed the most recent two, but it’s hard to imagine how many might fit the bill. If you’re a member of PS Plus, you can score a copy of Uncharted 4 via the PS Plus Collection, which makes top PS4 games available to PS5 owners at no extra costs. Before Sony quietly delisted Uncharted: The Lost Legacy from the digital storefront, it was available for $US20 ($28), and was sometimes marked down to $US10 ($14).
So, yeah, I’ve been wondering why Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves exists at all (y’know, beyond the obvious answers of “$$$”). After toying around with its striking photo mode, after spending some hours with its irresistibly charming leads, after running through its signature mix of climb-shoot-solve for what’s felt like the thousandth time, here’s the best I’ve been able to come up with: Why not?