Later this month, Uncharted will live up to its name for arguably the first time. The series will untether itself from hero, Nathan Drake, and drift into new territory, by featuring a female lead and a new storyline, writes Ronan Jennings.

It’s a big leap into the unknown for Naughty Dog and their flagship franchise. Nathan Drake has been the face of PlayStation since the early days of the PS3.

Naughty Dog have called on a familiar name to lead Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. They have made Chloe Frazer, one of Drake’s team and a supposed fan favourite, the star.

The Lost Legacy owes much to the spirit of exploration. The game was originally designed as downloadable content, a shorter, bite-sized Uncharted that people could play in a few hours.

As Naughty Dog began to explore the story of Chloe Frazer and her reluctant companion, Nadine Ross, they realized The Lost Legacy was quickly breaking free of its shackles.

“It just blew up,” says game director, Kurt Margenau, in a developer diary. “Before we knew it, a full game.”

In The Lost Legacy, Chloe returns to her roots in India to hunt for the Tusk of Ganesh, accompanied by a bankrupt Nadine. The developers claim the friction between Chloe’s spontaneity and Nadine’s pragmatism is part of what makes the story interesting. Chloe is there for herself, but Nadine is there for the money.

In terms of gameplay, little has changed. Chloe will be swinging from grappling hooks, shooting enemies, and driving jeeps across open plains, just like Drake did in Uncharted 4.

There are a few new additions, like the locked containers hidden across maps, but, by and large, this looks very much like a case of same system, new faces.

How will fans react? Will they buy the game, regardless of Drake’s absence, or will they see Chloe as Jeremy Renner in the Bourne series, a second-rate version of the real thing?

“We felt we wrapped up Drake’s story in Uncharted 4,” creative director, Shaun Escayg, said. “We wanted to find a new cast of characters that could actually carry on the Uncharted legacy.”

We’re about to find out if they struck gold, or struck out.

 

SPELUNKY STUFF

We all struck gold with Spelunky, back in 2009, both literally and figuratively. Spelunky is rightfully considered one of the greatest indie games of all time, an amazing feat when you realise it was first released as a free game.

Spelunky is a Mario-like platform game, in which an Indiana Jones-inspired character dives deeper and deeper into subterranean ruins, looking for a lost city of gold. Every time you die (and in Spelunky you will die a lot), you start from the beginning again, but all the levels change in design, from the enemy type to map layout to power-ups and secrets.

The key to progressing was learning from each death, so that every new dive into the ruins brought with it knowledge from the previous trip, and with it the skill to progress.

Spelunky is considered a classic, especially for game developers, who admire its nigh- perfect ‘roguelite’ design.

It’s no surprise, then, that everyone got very excited when Derek Yu, Spelunky’s creator, announced his next project this week. Called UFO50, it is a collection of 50 full games created in the style and restrictions of ‘80s 8-bit gaming.

The collection includes shooters, platformers, puzzle games, dungeon crawlers, and sports games and will feature both single-player and multi-player games. Yu claims UFC50 could take 100 hours to complete. Either way, it sounds out of this world.

FINAL FRONTIER

Speaking of alien expeditions, Tacoma is the latest game from the creators of Gone Home. While Gone Home was a touching coming-of-age story told through awkward video game mechanics, Tacoma takes players to a space station in the year 2088.

In a future where corporations rule the world, player-character, Amy, visits the abandoned space station, Tacoma, to retrieve AI data, piecing together what happened through an in-game, augmented reality system.

Tacoma isn’t exactly uncharted territory, but it’s a compelling visit to the final frontier nonetheless.

It’s definitely one for dedicated sci-fi fans to pick up.


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