Conniving Thieves Do What They Do Best in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy [Preview]
While most of the world got to see a new Uncharted: The Lost Legacy story trailer during PlayStation's E3 event, we got to see a bit more of the upcoming action game behind closed doors. What we saw was most definitely more Uncharted, which has never been a bad thing. More importantly, we got to see how Naughty Dog and creative director Shaun Escayg put the focus on two of the more criminal characters in the franchise's history, Chloe Black and Nadine Ross. We've seen the smuggler with a heart of gold enough. Now it's time for the thieving hustlers to get their time in the spotlight.
The demo picked up in the middle of a beautiful vista in the Western Ghat of India. The scale and scope is something to behold, even after all the impressive jungle vistas of Uncharted 4. Chloe and Nadine are on the hunt for the Tusk of Ganesha, one of the fable treasures of the region, and a recent bit of intelligence suggested part of the location might be uncovered in the ruins hidden in these mountains. Chloe isn't the only one searching for the tusk however, as a local despotic insurgent leader, Asav, is also eager to get his hands on the very item our not-so-heroic leads are hunting down.
If all of this sounds like vaguely familiar, that's because the backbone of the story is nearly identical to the previous Uncharted games. A rogue hero, a tougher-than-nails sidekick, the mysterious treasure, and the power-hungry villain attempting to thwart the protagonist is basically what every Uncharted story has featured. People don't return to Uncharted for the McGuffin du jour however; much like the Indiana Jones films, people keep coming back because of the characters and the personal stories driving these quests. The Lost Legacy is no different. Even though Nathan Drake is gone, fans loved Chloe Frazer and even Naughty Dog wanted to explore Nadine Ross more than they did in Uncharted 4.
"We told everything we could tell about Nathan Drake and put a bow on it," Shaun Escayg told us. "Then we started exploring all these other stories in that world, and we had several months of development on the Sullivan or Cutter story. We went down all these different routes, and the Chloe Frazer story just kept popping back up. She was interesting and enigmatic. She was this self-preservating character that would always bail out at the last minute."
From there, we started pairing her up with a companion, and figured out who the worst person she could team up with would be. That's how we landed on Nadine Ross. We only saw a small window of Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4, and she is another character who was a bit of a blank canvas."
Only a bit of the characterization was present during the demo, as most of it centered on some spectacular action set pieces. Chloe and Nadine find themselves facing off against Asav's forces more suddenly than they expected, but both are clearly more than capable of holding their own in a shootout. Players will control Chloe the entire time throughout Lost Legacy's story, but like Sam or Elena, Nadine has no trouble fending for herself. We witnessed some absolutely brutal hand-to-hand takedowns from Nadine while Chloe was busy lining up shots from cover. Uncharted's dual character system may not require players to revive the AI companion at all, but when the characters are as hardcore as Nadine, that's not entirely unbelievable.
"It's really Claudia Black and Laura Bailey that bring these characters to life," Escayg explained when asked about the potential new motion capture for all that combat. "All our characters are treated uniquely, so when we have a new project, we base characters on their characteristics or personalities. We capture all that accordingly, even with the stunt doubles we pair them with, but it's mainly our main actors. They brought that energy, and yeah, Nadine is the bad-ass we know from Uncharted 4, so we highlighted her. Chloe was our thieving character, so we built mechanics like our lock-picking around that, and a lot of stealth to build around her characteristics."
The lockpicking and stealth elements weren't on display during the demo, but expecting more sneaky scenes shouldn't be that surprising given how prevalent they were in Uncharted 4. Many of the areas explored throughout Drake's adventures there featured multiple paths for players to take with regards to going in guns blazing or taking a more tactical approach. Building that sneakiness into Chloe was a key for Lost Legacy, as she's not the smuggler with a heart of gold Nate was; Chloe is much more devious and calculating.
"That's the personality of Chloe. She's always shifty, and you're not sure what side she's playing on.," Escayg said. "That adds to the conflict, where you have Nadine who is pragmatic and loyalist, but they're both preservationists. It's about how these two characters bond, conflict, splinter and grow from this journey."
Even after just seeing a small segment of what Naughty Dog has planned for Chloe and Nadine, we're eager to get back into the Uncharted fold as soon as possible. The sense of wonder and excitement is still there for many fans, and with the scope of this adventure not being dialed back despite Lost Legacy not being a full retail release, there's a lot to look forward to in August. It's good to see Naughty Dog is still looking at ways to continue telling stories in this universe. Even if Chloe and Nadine's adventure is the final statement for Uncharted, at least we know the developers are going out in a blaze of villainous glory.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will be out exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 22.