As a standalone story, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will leave behind Nathan Drake in favor for a team-up between Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross. It’s a first for the series, but not for developer Naughty Dog, who has experimented with this one-off style with experiences like The Last of Us: Left Behind — an experiment that gave the studio the confidence to experiment with smaller experiences, says game director Kurt Margenau.
When Naughty Dog released Left Behind, they told a story about Ellie that includes moments that both pre-date and take place during the full game. “I think [Left Behind] proved that it was worth it, and for [The Lost Legacy] it was bigger,” Margenau tells The Verge. “The new challenge is now can we make this huge thing, and there’s new characters with brand-new story, so it gave us confidence.” These smaller stories allowed Naughty Dog to turn a project around quickly, while also playing with new characters.
But while Left Behind was meant to supplement the main story (Margenau describes it as filling in gaps for one of the main characters), The Lost Legacy has an altogether new tale to tell. “We have to make a new story,” Margenau says, “which is like, okay, to do that we really need the space and time for these relationships to grow. It eventually grew into a full game.” The team decided early on against more Nathan; they pondered stories centered instead on Sully, Sam, or even Cassie.
Eventually they landed on Chloe — a “wheeler-dealer, a schemer,” and a studio favorite — with Nadine to act as a logical companion. Much of the game’s story will focus on their relationship and how it changes over time. “They have a rocky relationship, the way they think about things is a little different,” Margenau says. “Chloe’s more improvisational. Nadine more wants to stick with the plan. Nadine is kind of the brawn. She’s not used to take orders.”
Both women are quick-witted and bounce off each other well, even when they don’t agree. The E3 demo was short but action-packed, as Chloe and Nadine clambered through a lush jungle, stumbled into treacherous ruins, and found themselves in an all-out fire fight with some very unfriendly fellows. “It has this buddy, Die Hard-y kind of vibe,” Margenau says. “The whole game takes place in a short period of time in one location.”
Margenau declined to say if Naughty Dog would pursue more standalone stories for its games, adding that the studio is still focused on the project at hand. But Uncharted in particular has always been about more than one character, he says. “If the franchise is good, you can fill it with multiple stories. Uncharted has always been about the ensemble.”