Sony doesn’t have a new “Uncharted” game to tout in conjunction with the release of the Tom Holland & Mark Wahlberg adaptation of the wildly successful Naughty Dog series that’s launching in theaters next month. So they’ve taken another route to the treasure this time, remastering the last two games in the series for the PS5 generation, upgrading visuals and enhancing the experience through the next-gen controllers on the Sony system. “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” and “Uncharted: A Lost Legacy” have been bundled into a package called “Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection.” If you haven’t played these games before, you absolutely should, and PS5 owners would be silly to do so any other way, but do you need to upgrade if you already completed them on the PS4? Maybe. I’m such a hardcore fan of this series—“A Thief’s End” was my favorite game of 2016—that I enjoy reliving some of its more theatrically designed moments and clever plotting every year or so and have already replayed most of it. “Lost Legacy” is more of a footnote in the series, and I was reminded how frustratingly repetitive parts of it can be, but even that game looks better than ever here.
There are three modes in which you can play the game—Fidelity Mode goes for consistency, locking in a 30fps aesthetic for 4K that’s consistently rich enough while avoiding enough gameplay glitching. If “enough” isn’t enough, switch to Performance Mode, which drops the resolution to 1440p but double the frame rate for incredibly consistent gameplay. Finally, there’s Performance+ which has a crazy 120fps rate but drops the visuals to 1080p. It’s neat in 2021 that these machines have become pliable enough for gamers to choose their preference over fluid gameplay or dense 4K graphics that can sometimes mar the responsiveness of the former.
Most people won’t notice much of a difference (but it is the real draw for anyone who has PS4 versions that were playable via backwards compatibility at 30fps already). In all three modes, “A Thief’s End” looks stunning. I so admire the cinematic structure of this game, which doesn’t just offer amazing action set pieces—if anything, the first couple hours are a little slow—but a flashback construction that feels more like a film than a game. It opens in media res with an explosive and dynamic boat chase to an island, before flashing back to a formative chapter of Nathan Drake’s childhood. And then it doesn’t even jump back to present day but details a prison escape that led to the death of Drake’s brother. The connections to movies like those in the Indiana Jones franchise or its many imitators are constantly impressive. It’s a world-hopping treasure hunt, and my concern regarding the film adaptation is that the games are going to be inherently more cinematic than it possibly could be within its runtime and budget restrictions. Good luck, Spider-Man.
“The Lost Legacy” is less expansive but still fun, and arguably benefits more from the upgrade than “A Thief’s End.” Released in 2017, it shifts the focus to Chloe Frazer, as she searches the mountain ranges of India. An early centerpiece of the game in which Chloe and Nadine traverse a valley with different shrines occupied by nearly identical soldiers and thinly designed puzzles frustrates me, but there are undeniably visual flourishes here that look richer on the PS5. Even just the opening scene in a crowded bazaar feels newer than most five-year-old games.
The upgrades aren’t purely visual. There’s new support for the adaptive triggers on the PS5 DualSense and enhanced 3D audio that’s impressive. For some, this just means rumbling along more on the adventures of Nathan Drake, but it does add to the intensity. And the audio mix is notably impressive, pinging sounds of the action to different parts of the room in which you’re playing it.
If you have the PS4 versions of “Uncharted 4” and “Lost Legacy,” you can upgrade to the “Legacy of Thieves” version for only $10, or drop the full $70 if you’ve somehow missed the latest chapters (and possibly the final ones give the end of 4) in one of the best game series of all time.
A review copy of this collection was provided by Sony.