Enter Uncharted PC territory and strike gold in our Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection review.
Since the series’ debut in 2007 with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune on PlayStation 3, developers Naughty Dog (who also brought you The Last of Us) have garnered a reputation as the best in the industry at crafting thrilling cinematic action games. Led by the charming treasure hunter extraordinaire, Nathan Drake, exploring lost civilisations in search of unfathomable treasure, Naughty Dog quite literally struck gold with this brand new series. Taking advantage of the increased power of the PS3, the Uncharted games blurred the line between videogame and cinema, immersing the player in visual spectacles and high-flying action sequences.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007) started the series with a bang. Quite a few bangs, actually.
The popularity of Uncharted has only climbed ever higher over the last decade – with several direct sequels, handheld spin-offs on both PS Vita and mobile, and of course the recent film adaptation starring Tom Holland. Though for players wanting to explore the thrilling escapades of Nathan Drake and his companions, the series’ PlayStation exclusivity has posed a challenging obstacle.
That was until this month, when Uncharted finally launched off its comfortable PlayStation-shaped cliff and instead landed on a solid and sturdy platform with the Legacy of Thieves Collection on PC. Containing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and its standalone DLC, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, is skipping the trilogy and starting the series at 4 a recipe for disaster? Well, I did it, and let me tell you, this is one thrilling leap you’ll want to take even with no background knowledge. Find out more in our UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection review for PC.
WARNING: mild story spoilers for the first 2 hours of the game.
Diving straight into the action, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End begins with Nathan Drake and his brother desperately hurtling towards a foreboding island. Crashing waves and lightning strikes aren’t their only threats, as in hot pursuit are dozens of enemies from a mercenary company known as Shoreline, desperately attempting to sink Drake’s ship. This thrilling sequence ends horribly for Drake, with our treasure-hunting protagonist flung from his ship and sinking towards the ocean floor like a dropped doubloon… Though you won’t find out what happens next until nearly the end of the game!
Nothing says “brotherly bonding” quite like a high-seas pursuit.
Flashing back 15 years earlier, the player is introduced to a young Nathan and Sam Drake, two brothers who just so happen to be spending some quality time together in a Panama prison. With the assistance of a money-hungry corrupt warden in search of a great fortune, Nathan is taken to dilapidated tower ruins in search of the legendary treasure of Henry Avery, a swashbuckling pirate captain whose vast riches were never uncovered. Disappointingly, Nathan finds no treasure, but a broken crucifix containing a note: a clue leading to a whopping 400 million dollar heist. Through a dramatic turn of events in the prison, the pair must escape the prison alongside their companion, Rafe, in pursuit of Avery’s treasure.
Just look at that place – surely there’s treasure at the top!
Fifteen years later and the treasure has still never been found. After a lifetime of unearthing ruins and relics across the globe, Nathan decides to finally hang up his Indiana Jones hat and retire, now living as humble salvage diver. But adventure calls and the lure of riches is too much for Nathan to resist. Once believed to be dead, Nathan’s brother returns with not only a debt on his life, but the next piece of Avery’s puzzle – a second crucifix. The pair team up once again, trekking across the globe as they inch closer to the largest pirate treasure in existence, and encounter numerous old friends and foes along the way.
Most brothers are content to climb trees together. Then again, Nathan and Sam aren’t most brothers.
As a player with almost zero background knowledge of the Uncharted series, I found A Thief’s End perfectly comfortable to jump into. This is a simple story of treasure-hunting and brotherly companionship, not some advanced geopolitical essay in sociology like the Metal Gear series. Naturally, many of the game’s references to earlier titles were lost on me, and I was unable to fully appreciate its many call-backs and easter eggs. But this didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story, and if you’re starting here too, you’ll likely find the same.
Tracking down pirate treasure isn’t without its challenges, and Nathan and Sam are willing to overcome whatever is thrown at them to reach their journey’s end. This includes massive obstacles like climbing literal mountains, fending off swarms of deadly mercenaries, and high-speed adrenaline-fuelled vehicle chases. These are all cleverly incorporated together in Legacy of Thieves – a perfect blend of gun-slinging action, environmental exploration and puzzle-solving, and gripping cinematics.
Exploration and Platforming
Most of the gameplay is centred around the lush environments of Uncharted, tasking the player with navigating their surroundings in search of a way forward or a means of uncovering the next clue. This is performed through free-climbing, with Nathan intuitively able to latch onto any overhanging platform, rocky outcrop, or building ledge. Adding the use of a grappling hook, ability to slide around environments, and leap from one platform to the next, this is quite possibly the most polished and enjoyable explorative 3D platforming ever created.
There’s only one thing stronger than the bond between brothers, and that’s Nathan’s grip strength.
Nathan controls perfectly, almost always reaching and leaping exactly where you want him to. The game doesn’t hold your hand and tell you where to go either, but rather places subtle signposting throughout the environment to guide your journey. While you’re never truly lost or disorientated, the game gives you free reign to examine your surroundings in order to find a way forward. There is however an over-reliance on conveniently-placed boxes and ladders, but many of the game’s clever puzzles certainly make up for this.
Most buildings are conveniently scattered with ledges for Nathan to grip onto.
Each of the game’s 22 chapters is broken up into short, snappy combat sequences, many of which involve the mercenaries of Shoreline, hired guns on the hunt for Sam and Nathan’s heads. The approach to combat is entirely up to the player’s preference. Prefer the stealthy sneaky approach while disposing of enemies from the shadows? Or rather run heads-first guns blazing into combat? Either is a valid option, though in most situations proper stealth requires significantly more planning and effort to pull off.
Most combat situations require the player to make effective use of cover, ducking out of ruins when safe to take down an enemy, and returning to cover to replenish health. It’s a simple tried-and-true system that’s easy to pick up and play even if you’re not a big fan of shooting games. With a wide range of weapons on offer, and exciting scenarios like aiming while gripping ledges and gunning down enemies during thrilling car chases, Uncharted’s combat keeps the adrenaline pumping from beginning to end.
Uncharted 4’s car chase sequence is phenomenal and sets the standard for all other action games.
Finally, the most thrilling component of the Uncharted formula is in its cinematics. These interactive scenes are pulsating with tension, drawing in the player through seamlessly transitioned cinematics and gameplay. Collapsing structures, brutal fist-fights with enemies, and burning buildings are all made as tense and engaging as possible through more than just quick time events.
Though occasionally predictable, with an excessive amount of bridges and ledges that collapse and leave Nathan hanging for his life, almost every cutscene will leave the blood pumping and coax you to keep playing. I found it near impossible to tear myself away from the screen and was eager to dive into every new chapter.
This is where the PC port of Legacy of Thieves truly shines. Got a decent rig and want the most visually-spectacular experience possible? Well, Legacy of Thieves will give you just that. While this isn’t the most detailed game, as you must consider the original is now 6 years old, its environments still look superb. Legacy of Thieves offers a wide variety of resolutions for its PC players, and experiencing the lush environments on an ultrawide HDR-enabled display is a visual delight.
If only real life looked this good.
It really is the environments that stand out most of all in Legacy of Thieves, with beautiful culturally-inspired settings taking place in both real world and fictional locations. If your display supports HDR, you’ll also notice a huge difference in terms of the game’s lighting, and be able to fully appreciate this when taking advantage of the in-game photo mode.
Every environment feels brimming with life and is a delight to explore.
The flawless cinematic experience of Legacy of Thieves is thanks in part to renowned film composer, Henry Jackman (Big Hero 6, Kick-Ass), who composed soundtracks for both A Thief’s End and Lost Legacy. His incredible Hollywood style certainly shows through every track, and perfectly matches with the high-octane sequences encountered throughout each game. This is contrasted with calmer, more intriguing orchestral tracks, which still give the player a sense of being truly immersed in an adventure.
The game’s title track perfectly sets the scene for the adventure about to unfold.
Bold brass in “Cut to the Chase” feels like it could have been taken from a high-seas pirate film.
A tender moment between Nathan and his wife, Elena, is accompanied by this beautiful track: “For Better or Worse”.
Uncharted’s voice acting too is of an equally high standard, with Nolan North reprising his role as Nathan Drake alongside VA veteran Troy Baker (The Last of Us) as Sam Drake. These two have an incredible dynamic during their performances which feels like that of genuine brothers. With accents from around the globe, namely South Africa, Australia, and India, the performances from every single voice actor is legitimate and rarely feels forced.
In addition to the brilliant score and voice acting, the audio mix throughout the game’s ambience and sound effects are flawless. Each crunching footstep, every deep bassy explosion that hits you in the chest, through to the gentle sounds of bird song and relaxing rustling leaves. This is a game that simply must be played through a decent set of headphones for the finest possible audio experience.
What’s different on PC?
So you might be wondering – why should I play Uncharted on PC? Shouldn’t I just pick it up on PlayStation instead? Well, if you have the luxury of owning both a decent PC and PlayStation consoles, you might have to consider whether The Legacy of Thieves Collection on PC is a worthwhile investment. Though if you only own a PC, then the decision is a no-brainer.
While almost all content is shared between Legacy of Thieves on PlayStation 5 and PC, those wanting a customisable experience should consider leaning towards the PC port. Players can choose multiple control options, including keyboard/mouse for more accuracy during shooting segments, or simply plug in your favourite controller. But the emphasis here is on the visuals – with the PC version utilising AMD upscaling to enhance the visuals a wider variety of resolutions and specifications.
During my time with the game, I was able to run it on max visual settings on a GTX2070 in ultrawide 3440 x 1440 on the Alienware QD-OLED Ultrawide Monitor with buttery smooth framerates almost the entire way through. Having swapped back to 1920 x 1080 multiple times throughout the game, the game’s compatibility to play in ultrawide makes a significant difference to the overall visual experience.
The Lost Legacy
While most of the focus in this review has been on A Thief’s End as the main course of the collection, the standalone epilogue DLC, The Lost Legacy is a generous second helping that offers an ~8 hour adventure with a familiar cast. Players take control of Chloe Frazer, a character from previous Uncharted games, on a quest to locate the mythical Tusk of Ganesh in the heart of India.
Uncover the ancient lost capital of Halebidu.
Offering a vastly-different setting with respectful cultural immersion into Indian deities, and a different perspective on Nadine Ross (an antagonist in UC4), this side story is as satisfying as the game’s main experience. Combat takes a slightly different stance too, with much more of an emphasis on stealth, as Chloe can swiftly and silently dispose of her opponents unseen. Many segments feel very reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid V, which is a compliment to Lost Legacy’s gameplay.
In addition to the two games included in the Legacy of Thieves Collection, players are given a huge range of unlockables as post-game content. In similar fashion to The Last of Us: Part I, once a playthrough is completed, a variety of visual filters, gameplay adjustments, costumes and customisable weapons can be used in subsequent playthroughs. Want to mow down your competition with the most powerful weapon in the game? Well now you can.
Treasures await, but good luck finding them.
And, of course, as a game centred around treasure hunting, there’s plenty of valuable items to uncover. These are cleverly dispersed throughout the environment – sometimes in plain sight, but sometimes in the most obscure of locations. So for players wanting to hunt down every single treasure (and achievement), there’s far more gameplay beyond the story.
It’s not often you start with the fourth game in the series, but UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection is exactly that. For players who’ve yet to explore the thrilling escapades of Nathan Drake, this PC collection offers a starting point that will leave players eager to return to previous adventures. For returning fans, the ability to experience the game in the highest possible visual fidelity and ultra-wide resolution may tempt you into a replay.
So whilst it may seem like an odd starting point, and dedicated Uncharted fans will point daggers at you, Legacy of Thieves provides an unparalleled action/adventure experience that requires little prior to knowledge to enjoy. So if you’re like myself and have never experienced an Uncharted game before, don’t hesitate to put Uncharted on your map.
So, why should you play it?
- Never owned a PlayStation? Now’s your chance to explore Uncharted
- Superb PC visuals enhanced by ultra-wide support
- Flawless blend of platforming, action, and cinematics
- Two thrilling stories and a plethora of extra content
- Will likely convince you to play the earlier games
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- Already played it on PS5? May not be worth double dipping
- Better off playing on PlayStation if you have a low-end PC
A review code for Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection on PC was kindly provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the purpose of this review. Enjoyed our review? Check out our The Last of Us: Part 1 review and our other reviews for more.