There I was, sweaty and tired, having just scrambled my way up a dangerously steep rock face. As soon as I reached the top of the cliff I forgot about the trouble it took to get there: because, my god, that view. Lush green forest that seems to extend forever, dotted by crystal clear waterfalls and wondrous ancient ruins. Of course I took out my phone and snapped a picture.
One of the new additions in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which launches next week on PS4, is that its treasure hunting lead character Chloe carries a smartphone everywhere she goes. On the surface, it’s not an especially huge feature. The phone doesn’t do much; Chloe receives texts every so often, but mostly she uses it to capture images of the exotic sights she comes across on her adventure. As you explore, you’ll come across specific locations — ones that are especially beautiful, or hold an important place in the game’s story — and Chloe can take a quick break to snap a photo.
The Lost Legacy’s phone is far from the first to appear in a video game. Series like Watch Dogs and Grand Theft Auto have turned in-game smartphones into de facto menus, controlling everything from maps to music. They do a lot of the same things your phone does in the real life, and so are an integral part of the experience. In contrast, Uncharted’s smartphone is limited — it only does one thing, but it does it really well.
The Uncharted series is one defined by key moments. Death-defying escapes, encounters with local wildlife, and yes, those wonderful views after an arduous climb. And Chloe’s phone lets you capture and relive those moments in a way that feels integrated into the game itself. Sure, you can always take screenshots or video of those scenes, but there’s something about the way Chloe can pull out her phone at any time, and spend a few moments swiping through some of the more iconic moments from the game. It just feels natural. If I went on the adventures she did, I’d be snapping photos like crazy, too.
One of the most powerful aspects of Uncharted 4 was how it used nostalgia in smart, emotional ways. One of those was the way Nathan Drake would pick up old photos or relics in his hand, and turn them over analyzing them from every angle. It added a sense of depth to the world, and the fact that is was a mostly optional feature made it all the more memorable for those who partook. Chloe doesn’t have that same kind of history — this is her first starring role, after all. So instead she’s creating new memories. And there’s no better way to remember those than with your phone.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is coming to PlayStation 4 on August 22nd.