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Uncharted: Legacy Of Thieves Collection: Accessibility Review

Disclaimer

This review copy was provided by PlayStation UK at no cost to the reviewer.

Introduction

Over the years since its inception, Naughty Dog's Uncharted series has been praised and acclaimed for the technical wizardry it achieved on the various platforms it released on, as well as its narrative, style and set pieces. It also, as of Uncharted 4, started making progress in the accessibility space, allowing more gamers to play than ever before, mostly through inclusion of motor-related options and elements like auto aim.

With The Last Of Us Part II being such a massive step in the right direction for accessibility compared to what was released before it and the power of the PlayStation 5 hardware firmly on everyone's minds, I was definitely surprised to see an announcement of the Legacy Of Thieves Collection during a PlayStation showcase event in 2021 and interested to see just what new innovations, if any, might appear in this upgraded re-release of two great games.

With so many remasters coming out and not being playable as a gamer without sight, however, just how well does the Legacy Of Thieves collection, which contains both Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy in a revamped PS5-centric package, hold up in terms of letting someone with no sight whatsoever grapple, jump and shoot their way through what is essentially a Hollywood blockbuster?

First boot

Note

I received sighted assistance for this review, as I am aware that most of the time, remasters or upgrades like this rarely improve over their original versions in terms of accessibility.

Booting up the game for the first time and trying out Optical Character Recognition (OCR), I discovered that there was, first of all, no menu/UI narration. Though this wasn't exactly a surprise, it was frustrating to say the least. Continuing to use OCR to get through the language and brightness screens, I knew that accessibility configuration options were present, but couldn't figure out how to reliably enter the menus and adjust them with OCR. I continued on to the main menu as a result and got assistance to launch the most recent game of the two.

Lost Legacy

Lost legacy was a very interesting game for me as, though I did play it after Uncharted 4 and didn't expect much in the way of accessibility at the time, there was a (likely unintended) accessibility feature as a part of a convoluted and challenging side mission. If you collected all of the Hoysala tokens in the 4th chapter of the game, including successfully completing this complex and extremely difficult traversal segment, shown here in raw footage you could gain access to an item called the "Queen's Ruby" which we nicknamed the "treasure finder bracelet". This interesting accessory, it turned out, actually emitted a signal when in the vicinity of collectables and it made the game much more enjoyable for me, as I could point out when we were near an artefact that we might want to try and get as we progressed.

Given the amount of effort we'd taken to unlock those rewards in the first place, I was curious to see whether save importing would allow us to regain all the trophies that had been so gruelling to earn on PS4.

Loading up a new save brought me to the only accessible part of the game without sighted assistance, in that the import process uses the PS5's native interface for save management. This meant that I could press X on a save of my choosing, though I did opt to start a new game without saving which I needed assistance for.

Doing this played the ending cutscene for the game and, after a short wait, the familiar "pling" of trophies popping began, one after the other. I was curious to know whether I had to stay on that screen while the trophies were appearing, but did not quit just in case.

Unfortunately, browsing the options menu for accessibility in this title revealed no additional accessibility elements which, though it's arguably the standard for re-releases like this most of the time, is still frustrating (since games like God Of War added extra options to their port, regardless of them not assisting gamers without sight directly).

Uncharted 4.

Uncharted 4 was actually the first game in the franchise I'd ever played, when I went to Guerrilla Games all the way back in 2018, trying the title out along with God Of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn. I played through the whole thing on a PS4 Pro after getting hooked initially and had a save to prove it. Knowing that there was save importing available but thinking that I'd already uploaded my save to PlayStation Plus, I hit import save and was greeted with the message "No save found".

In an effort to see what the experience for a new player might be like, I loaded up a brand new game from scratch.

The sound design of this game has always been of very high quality, but playing it on my current surround sound setup that is properly configured, I began to appreciate just how much like a real movie this game could sound. Music thundering out of all sides, dialogue clear and crisp from the centre channel, each crack of gunfire placed just so.

The haptics of the DualSense haven't ever struck me as totally remarkable, but they are certainly immersive and, with this title in particular, they felt just as good, if not better than I'd remembered. Combined with the adaptive triggers, even in the opening scene, it did feel like an improvement over the original

However, a key point it's worth reiterating, it was still left to my CoPilot to do most of the work, calling out when we had to jump, climb, or duck into cover.

Even going through the accessibility menus in Uncharted 4, there were no accessibility extras, unless you count being able to load back in more quickly after death as an accessibility feature. Even the 3d audio here wouldn't assist you in navigating via trial and error.

After the Lost Legacy save provided me with all my trophies, I was curious to see if I could import my save from this title as well to achieve the same result.

Strangely, in-game, there didn't appear to be any instructions as to how to import your save, which meant that we just had to try uploading the save file from my PS4 and seeing if that worked.

It turned out that was exactly what I needed to do and, when I loaded into the checkpoint the game gave me (right at the end of said experience, much like Lost Legacy), I received all the trophies I'd earned from the PS4 version. For the record, I tried quitting the game while the trophies were still coming in and there were no issues.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Conclusions

Uncharted is a series that I've thoroughly enjoyed over the years I've been able to play it, though I've needed sighted assistance for the entirety of that experience. That's the key here, sighted assistance. There are so many people who don't have the luxury or fortune to have local sighted assistance and thus, so many games, including those in this collection are off-limits to them.

Though I could arguably berate this new package for not improving accessibility given how far the industry has come since Uncharted The Lost Legacy back in 2017, I am also keenly aware that videogames take years to develop and accessibility should be looked at from the ground up, particularly from the perspective of a gamer without sight where elements like audio cues, navigational assists and refined auto-aim have to be integrated as a core pillar of development throughout the entire process. Retrofitting these elements costs significantly more than implementing them at the start and integrating them well is key to making them mesh with the established gameplay loop.

Consequently, if you have no local sighted assistance, this remaster of iconic PS4 titles won't unfortunately be accessible at all, which is a real shame as they are brilliantly put together games both in their own right and as a pair.

As much as I cannot recommend this remaster for anyone without sighted assistance, I also have a hard time recommending it to anyone who has, particularly given you have to share a single DualSense controller to get the full experience.

When I played both of these games on PlayStation 4, I could use a Titan 2 to have simultaneous control, which includes haptic feedback for both controllers. However, when using this on PS5, for games requiring DualSense controllers like this collection, that feedback, as well as adaptive triggers, are removed from the equation entirely. This means that you don't get full immersion in sequences, nor can you necessarily tell when you're getting hit, when you're on the right spot for a lockpick etc, all of which add to the experiences of their respective titles and, at times, allow for at least elements of agency.

As the PlayStation 5, as of the time of writing, lacks anything that achieves the same goal as CoPilot (i.e. simultaneous control with two individual controllers) and with the Titan 2 not supporting the full DualSense feature set, it's unfortunately a hard sell, at least currently.

I'll leave this review on an optimistic note though. With the trend of remasters showing no sign of slowing down, I still harbour some hope that one day, we'll start seeing remasters of games that actually include enough accessibility to make them fully playable without the need for any assistance whatsoever. When that day comes, rest assured I'll be ready to sing the praises of whoever achieves that, as well as whoever keeps the positive momentum going. The question as to whether it'll be in the hands of Naughty Dog, or if Uncharted will make a triumphant return to embrace the mantle of accessibility again is still up for debate though.

I feel it's worth remembering Drake's motto from the Uncharted games, considering it in relation to accessibility: "Sic parvis magna", or as Nathan Drake puts it, "greatness from small beginnings". It could be said that is how accessibility has worked, at least for a while. Small features start a kind of snowball effect, with games like The Last of Us Part II being an example of the massive impact that implementing enough to allow so many more to play can have. I and so many others hope we see more large impact games in the nearer future, but as to when that'll be, it's hard to know.

As much as Uncharted: Legacy Of Thieves Collection does nothing to encourage gamers without sight to play it over the original PlayStation 4 titles it reproduces, the fact that they are being re-released at all shows that there is still a passion for this franchise somewhere. That alone gives me hope that we might see an Uncharted game or one in that style that I can play start to finish on the hardest difficulty without any guidance, exploring as so many have before.

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