Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection on PS5
If there’s a studio that really spearheads PlayStation’s exclusive library, it’s Naughty Dog. The developer has been pushing the limits of what we thought was possible in video games, from stellar writing and character development, through to minute visual details that help bring their worlds to life. One of its most iconic franchises has been the Uncharted series, telling the tale of Nathan Drake as he travels around the world in search of long-lost treasures only talked about in myths and legends. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection combines both of the PS4 titles — Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and its standalone spin-off, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy — and gives them a fresh coat of PS5 paint, all to tempt us with another playthrough of these iconic adventures.
Editor’s Note: As Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection consists of two games we’ve already reviewed — Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy — this review will primarily be focusing on the improvements Naughty Dog and Iron Galaxy have brought to the collection thanks to the additional horsepower of the PS5. We will be covering how the gameplay in both titles holds up years after release, but if you’re looking for full reviews, we’ve linked them for your convenience below.
If the actual gameplay remains the same in the Legacy of Thieves Collection compared to their originals, then the main attraction here are the visual improvements. Making use of that extra horsepower inside the PS5, the collection offers up three new ‘Rendering’ options: Fidelity, Performance, and Performance+.
Fidelity displays both titles in a native 4K resolution, with a target framerate of 30fps. It’s the best-looking version of the game, but retains that last-gen feeling framerate. Performance, on the other hand, balances resolution and framerate. It sacrifices the native 4K resolution for a base 1440p resolution upscaled to 4K, but the mode targets a smoother framerate of 60fps. Performance+ drops the resolution down to 1080p, but targets a lofty 120fps framerate, though you will need a compatible 120hz display to see the benefit from this option.
I started my time with Legacy of Thieves Collection in Fidelity mode, and the visual improvements over the PS4 version of the game are staggering. The thunder and lightning of the opening boat sequence looked fantastic with HDR enabled, with realistic lighting effects adding a layer of atmosphere and realism to the scene that are lacking in the original version.
The muzzle flare from my pistol and enemy boat’s LMGs aggressively illuminating my nearby surroundings, while the lightning gave snatching glimpses of the island in the distance, and the jagged rocks stretching out of the turbulent waters below, itself significantly more impressive in this PS5 remaster than the original. Massive waves buffeting the boat to and fro. The DualSense crashing around in my hands thanks to the use of the haptics inside the controller, while every shot fired from my pistol sends a ripple of feedback through my finger resting on the trigger.
It’s all oddly realistic, and while this is only the opening 10 minutes of Uncharted 4, it provides a suitable snapshot of the remastered experience on offer here.
Pushing further through Nathan and Sam Drake’s adventure to idyllic, tropical islands and exotic shores in search of Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure, it’s clear that these visual enhancements have greatly benefited every environment, every leaf, every blade of grass and coarse hair making up the stubble on Nate’s jaw. For all the stunning details you notice in that super-crisp native 4K resolution, though, Fidelity does still feel oddly last-gen due to its 30fps framerate. It feels more like the classic 24fps of movies now, a limitation of the industry years ago and now something of a stylish relic.
For those wanting the very best experience, you’ll want to spend a majority of your time in Performance mode. Balancing resolution and framerate, Performance mode still retains plenty of the visual fidelity of Fidelity mode, while pairing it with a 60fps framerate. It’s the best way to experience both games out of the three modes with the added bump up to 60fps transforming the experience. The clunky climbing of Nate and co. was exacerbated by the original 30fps framerate, but doubling it makes climbing and traversal in general feel that little bit more natural and fluid.
It was most noticeable whenever Nate was using his grappling hook to cross a giant chasm by propelling himself through the air, the whole sequence now a butter smooth sight to behold. Smaller details like seagulls flying off into the distance, or the foliage blowing in the breeze just looks that little more realistic thanks to the bumped up framerate, and doesn’t look dramatically worse in order to compensate for it. Even lighting, shadows and reflections, for the most part appear to be of a similar quality to those found in Fidelity mode.
The mode managed to stick around the 60fps mark for almost the entirety of both games, too. If there were drops, they weren’t noticeable to me and my naked eyes sitting in front of my TV.
Rounding out the ‘Rendering’ options in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is Performance+ mode, dropping the resolution right down to 1080p in order to target as 120fps framerate. This is the mode I spent the least time in, largely due to the significant hit to the resolution in order to reach the lofty target framerate. It still looks good enough, but the difference between 60 and 120fps just wasn’t noticeable enough for me to sacrifice those 4K visuals. Still, if you favor framerate over everything, then know that you’ve got this option in here. The framerate does bounce around more in Performance+ but it never seems to drop down to sub-60fps, from my experience and naked eye observations.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection isn’t just about the different ‘Rendering’ options, though, as it also brings DualSense and 3D Audio compatibility. The DualSense features bring that same level of added immersion as we’ve seen them bring to other games such as Returnal and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The adaptive triggers give a little resistance when driving the 4×4 around the overworld in Lost Legacy, and the right trigger kicks back realistically when firing a weapon in both titles. Meanwhile, the haptics provide more accurate feedback, rumbling into life during particularly explosive cutscenes or action set-pieces. It’s never intrusive to the experience, but they’re noticeable. A subtle inclusion that really does just enhance the moment-to-moment gameplay in each adventure.
3D Audio, on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic. It’s a feature I’ve been a big fan of since Sony announced it for the PS5, and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is yet another example of how to do it. The grandiose soundtrack, the booming explosions, the crash of gunfire and the shouts and screams of your enemies surround you, and you can pinpoint their direction with surprising accuracy when using a compatible headset. All in all, then, the Legacy of Thieves Collection brings a whole host of modern enhancements that make this the definitive way to experience these PS4 masterpieces.
And masterpieces they still are in their own right. Even around five and six years since their original releases, both Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy are still some of the best, most cinematic and immersive experiences you can play. The stunning landscapes that leave you gawking as Nathan nonchalantly clings to the side of a cliff with a few hundred feet drop below him like some iron-armed superhero. The fantastic writing, befitting of a Hollywood blockbuster on the silver screen, brings the cast of characters to life, creating realistic villains who feel grounded both within the slightly supernatural world of Uncharted and our own real world and adding brotherly banter to Nate and Sam’s adventure, and dry humored remarks from both Nadine and Chloe in The Lost Legacy.
The clever use of color to guide players across rooftops, through winding streets, into halls lined with enemies unleashing fire on you as soon as you step inside. The way the reticle has a smaller reticle inside it which shows how your weapon recoils with each shot. Naughty Dogs has meticulously crafted these fantastic, cinematic adventures, and while Uncharted 4 does hint at the end of Nathan’s story, I sincerely hope the developer finds a way to bring us more Uncharted gameplay in the future.
To get a sense of just how much of an improvement there was, I downloaded the PS4 version of Uncharted 4 and played it on my PS5. There’s no 60fps support here, even with the PS5 boost feature enabled on my system. It’s not just a sharper and smoother image, but the lighting and shadow effects as well as the turbulent water in the game’s opening scene. The difference is night and day, but it’s the existence of the PS5’s Boost Mode that leaves me to question whether we really needed the Legacy of Thieves Collection.
This truly is the definitive way to experience both Uncharted 4, and its standalone spin-off in The Lost Legacy, but whether or not these remasters are worth the $50 price tag (or $10 if you’ve already purchased either game, or the Digital Bundle), I’m not so sure. So many PS4 titles have already been given a free visual and performance facelift thanks to the PS5’s Boost Mode, and while Legacy of Thieves Collection does go above and beyond the improvements we’ve seen via these free PS5 patches thus far, whether or not you’ll get your money’s worth comes down to how eager you are to replay these two adventures.
Sadly, the PS4 versions of Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy both never received any significant ‘Boost Mode’ improvements when playing on PS5, which kind of just makes this whole premium remaster collection a more bitter pill to swallow.
Given the likes of God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn’s PS4 versions got free PS5 patches unlocking the framerate — though retained the original resolutions — it feels as though Uncharted 4 & The Lost Legacy could have received a similar free update. As highlighted in this Digital Foundry breakdown of Horizon Zero Dawn’s PS5 upgrade, though, “unlocking 60fps is not as easy as flicking a switch,” but it has been done before, chiefly in the two game’s mentioned here, as well as Day’s Gone.
The Last of Us Part II also received a framerate toggle option as part of its 1.08 performance patch in May last year, allowing for 60fps, all without charging fans extra. I don’t have the technical knowledge to say whether this could easily be done the same for the Legacy of Thieves Collection, but I can’t help shake the slightly iffy feeling that this could have been released as a free update, instead of making players shell out for games they may already have in their library.
It’s especially true in the landscape outside of the PlayStation ecosystem, too, where its biggest competitor is offering Series X|S enhancements — including 4K, 60FPS and Auto-HDR — for Xbox One titles free of charge.
This issue is less a problem with Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, though, and more one with Sony’s inconsistency regarding PS4 game’s receiving PS5 performance updates and patches. Some are given free patches, others upgrade paths, and some get the full retail release, such as Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding’s Director’s Cuts. But they also had additional content packed in, where Legacy of Thieves doesn’t.
How much do you want to replay Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy? That’s the question you’ve got to ask yourself right now. If your gaming docket is looking pretty rammed, then this is one you can probably pass on for the time being. However, if you just can’t get enough of Nate, Sam, Chloe, Nadine and Sully, then this one just about warrants a purchase. It’s the definitive way to experience these PS4 masterpieces, and has me dreaming about the possibilities of a true PS5 Uncharted title.