I’m no landlubber when it comes to Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. I stormed its poop decks as recently as January. I loved the cut of its PS5 jib. So much so, this sea dog wasn’t salty when they asked him to (pi)rate it all over again.
Why was there no sinking feeling at the prospect of returning? Because who wouldn’t want to focus their spyglass on a Naughty Dog title running at full sail on a PC for the very first time?
There are other novelties to treasure along the way, too. Using a mouse to nail headshots and challenge 15-year’s worth of Uncharted muscle memory is one. Likewise, those weird emotional moments when the QTE prompts don’t bear the expected PlayStation buttons. It feels so wrong and yet so right.
Lastly on a more personal note: this was the perfect time for me to clock Uncharted 4 again. My eldest now has the first three games under his belt and was keen to set sail on a father/son voyage. Viewing his joy and surprise let me effectively relive a newcomer’s experience all over again. For the record: he was particularly delighted by the nods to previous games found in Nate’s attic. Plus the “goofy gun battle” and game tournament that occurs soon after.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection PC Review
Beyond the topics of graphics and performance, a ton of what I’ve already said in my PS5 review still holds true. So let me quickly give you newcomers a recap, plus a few updated thoughts. Then, we’ll move into what this version is more about: visuals and technical execution on a new platform.
Firstly, you ought to know that this is a double-shot compilation – mildly updated versions of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016) and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (2017). The former is more critically acclaimed and twice the runtime of the latter, which is basically a 7-hour spin-off. In terms of gameplay mechanics, they’re more or less identical. Let’s get ‘past-me’ to quantify this…
“The basic DNA of any Uncharted adventure: slip into the boots of an acquirer of rare antiquities – Nathan Drake in the first instance, Chloe Frazer in the second – then you’re paired with a pal they have an imperfect history with, and now it’s grave defilin’ time.
[…expect] a mix of puzzling against improbably intricate ancient mechanisms, bunghole puckering platforming and mass murder that somehow doesn’t give our affable heroes PTSD. Combat-wise, you’ll make orphans of henchmens’ children via cover-hopping gunfights, amateur chiropractics from stealth or two-button brawling.”
In the late 2010s, these games pushed the boundaries in a few ways. On the narrative side, they gave their action-hero cast extra dimensions by grounding them in everyday domestication. Gameplay-wise, ND introduced thrilling grapple hook hijinks and sections where the playspace blinkers came right off.
All of these new ideas meshed brilliantly with the established franchise formula…
“After a deliberate low throttle start in Uncharted 4, the pacing basically becomes perfect and some areas open up to be as sandbox as you please. Furthermore, the ineffable charm of the heroes and heroines—coupled with some chuckle-worthy interplay with their fellow crooks—has aged like a fine wine.”
Mind you, I did spy a small collection of legacy issues with…er, Legacy Collection. Rough edges that jutted out to spite of the “new lick of paint” remaster mandate. Stuff that effectively reappears in the PC version…
“[Though introducing Indy-style grapple swinging was] once an impressive feat in 2016, it occasionally looks stilted and exhibits slightly Looney Tunes cartoon logic every once in a while. Using preset anchor points in platforming sections looks relatively seamless. But there’s a bit of jank to behold if you have Nate disengage from aiming a gun, make a leap and hoik out his hook to do a daring position shift. The slight moment of re-calculation the game needs isn’t a huge eyesore, but it seems more noticeable when you’re in higher frame rate mode.
[…]Also, some of the old bugs haven’t been squashed. I spotted the odd awkward platforming moment and B-movie death throe animation. More common were a few instances where the animation system would grab NPCs by the scruff of the neck and slide-teleport them several metres to where it needed them to be.”
Speaking of minor peccadilloes, expect a few other imperfections that may irk action junkies or anybody after ‘the absolute best versions’ of these games.
“I should probably warn newcomers to expect the odd bit of whiplash with the puzzle sections. Personally, I think they’re well constructed and a nice change of pace. […] Lastly, if you’ve come here to ask the burning question that is: has Naughty Dog revived and included Uncharted 4’s criminally underloved online multi? The answer is no, with not much explanation as to why.”
I found that those minor mud splatters don’t really sully what is essentially an interactive action movie masterpiece.
“Beyond the odd, uh, ropey physics moment and a key boss fight that’s as underwhelming as I remember it, there’s not much else you can fault A Thief’s End and Lost Legacy for. There are still standout moments of beauty that will put your jaw on the floor. Likewise, the constant scenery shifts, plot twists and the lure of those MacGuffins will suck you in and hold you fast, like some sort of fiendishly designed death trap.”
Now that you’re caught up with the essentials, let’s talk about PC-centrics. Visually, you can obviously expect the baseline offered by the PS5 version. In late September, the console crew got a VRR patch that provided 4K unlocked up to 50fps, with an average of 100fps in 1440p. Pretty impressive stuff for a TV box. Mind you, that looks decidedly half-mast compared to the delights of Uncharted on a fully decked-out PC. For starters, porting custodians Iron Galaxy have bolted in a host of enhanced graphical adjustment features such as adjustable texture and model quality, and anisotropic filtering. That’s bolstered with improved shadows, reflections and ambient occlusion.
My rig comfortably inched beyond those expected results to achieve a rock solid 60fps @ 4K on an i9-9900k, with a 3080 and 16GB of RAM. Impressively, a trusted contemporary of mine who’s rocking a 4090 insists he was getting 170+fps @ 4K on his ultra-wide setup.
Clearly, this dude has me beat in batcomputers, but I still feel blessed with my consolation prize; getting to behold these sumptuous worlds through a super-ultra-wide (32:9) monitor. And what an absolute eyeball holiday it was – everything from idyllic tropical island hopping, to steamy Madagascan jungles and frosty peaks. Plus, more spine-tingling catacombs than you can poke a Staff of Ra at.
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some choppy seas, however. The frame rate, by and large, was stable but offered the odd hitch when caching from a cutscene to a “vista” moment. Perceptible enough to cause a nose wrinkle, nothing more. Furthermore, I counted four times when the textures of an NPC face, a wall or part of a distant cliff went…well, multicoloured. Almost like a 1970s disco dance floor texture, but busier.
Were those moments immersion destroying? Yes. Light-seizure inducing? Borderline. But were they isolated, difficult to replicate and likely to be patched before you read this?
In the grand scheme, these two swashbuckling adventures go off with barely any hitches at all and are highly impressive in terms of fidelity and performance. It’s worth noting that it’s a joy to fire up a DualSense and receive haptics benefits – though I’d pay hundreds for some sort of best-of-both-worlds, PS MouseSense.
It also has to be said that this Collection hit like a breath of fresh air, given I went straight to it from the bleak, high-stakes/low-ammo antics of The Last of Us Part 1. I found a new appreciation for these rip-roaring, summer blockbuster shenanigans – Naughty Dog’s near-perfect balance of tightly-corralled cinematic storytelling, player agency and vehicular set-piece battles.
I’ve had months to ponder this, but I still can’t think of an action-adventure TPS that eclipses what’s achieved here.
Do you like fun? Do you like guns? Do you like “arrr” rated action? Well, you’d be nuts not to thieve these jewels from PlayStation’s’ crown and bury ’em in your Steam pile.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection was reviewed on PC using a digital code provided by PlayStation Australia.
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