Is The Lost Legacy A New Game, New DLC, Or Simply A PR Nightmare?
Wikipedia defines DLC as being “additional content created for a released video game”.
I think that’s a fairly simple definition. It essentially boils down to an expansion (for which, it’s useful to note, the definition is almost exactly the same) for a game that we can already buy from a storefront, whether that storefront be digital or physical. Take The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s infamous “Horse Armour” DLC for example. In that case, Bethesda decided to add horse armour to the already released game, probably with the intention of making a richer experience for all involved…and a little bit of money. No doubt the long-lasting meme it has since become was unintended at the time.
Taking this into account brings up a pertinent question, then: what exactly is Uncharted: The Lost Legacy beyond being a new story in the Uncharted universe?
At first glance, it is DLC: this is “additional content” for an already released video game, as such, by definition, it’s the DLC we discussed earlier. But, things aren’t that simple; The Lost Legacy is also standalone and thus effectively cut away from last year’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, meaning it isn’t technically additional content for a base video game, and thus isn’t technically DLC. In the fact it doesn’t rely on Uncharted 4 to be played, surely it’s severing all ties with the original game?
Naughty Dog’s marketing, usually - and I say this without a shred of irony -some of the best in the industry, is equally muddy on the issue. In posts on the PlayStation Blog, The Lost Legacy’s been called “a true Uncharted game”, with “all the hallmarks of an Uncharted adventure”. This perhaps points to The Lost Legacy being a new ‘game’ entirely. It also perhaps gives credence to the idea that Naughty Dog couldn’t stop themselves from creating an entirely new game, something Head Of Communications, Arne Meyer, pointed to in an interview with IB Times last week. He said “we couldn’t keep it short” and that they knew, if they tried to create DLC for Uncharted, “we’d create a full game”.
Of course, this isn’t without precedent for Naughty Dog. 2013’s hugely successful The Last Of Us, was followed a year later by the equally popular standalone DLC: Left Behind. But, that was a two hour experience, not the potential ten hours of The Lost Legacy. Here, we’re very much in (pardon the pun) uncharted waters.
The release date can perhaps lend a little insight into how Naughty Dog see the game. As mentioned above, Left Behind was released almost exactly one year after the base Last Of Us game had come out. Uncharted 4 released on May 10th 2016. The Lost Legacy will be released on August 22nd 2017, that’s a fifteen month gap between titles.
The potentially interesting thing here is the extra three months. It’s most likely for extra development time, should Naughty Dog need it (and, if it really is ten hours long — I’m sure they need all the time they can get), but it could equally be a way to separate it in people’s minds from the DLC precedent of Left Behind; in other words, trying to show that Left Behind and The Lost Legacy are in difference veins.
Let’s for a second assume that The Lost Legacy is going to be delayed — I think it probably will be, given the scope being discussed — so let’s think of it as coming out in December rather than August, for arguments sake. By initially announcing the release date to be later than it was for their only other DLC, Left Behind, Naughty Dog are doing just what I mentioned previously: distancing the two from each other. The conversation thus shifts. It isn’t about how the time between game and DLC are the same as with The Last Of Us, but instead about how they’re different, and what exactly that means.
But, taking that into account, why then “if you picked up the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Digital Deluxe Edition, Explorers Pack or the Triple Pack” do you get The Lost Legacy at launch, as Naughty Dog said in their release date announcement? This points to a connection between the game and this new piece of content, and perhaps also to the crux of the issue: that The Lost Legacy is going to be much bigger than was perhaps originally intended, but that the original commitment still has to be fulfilled. Take a glance a at the comments section on the linked article above: it’s filled with people confused about whether The Lost Legacy is actually that single-player DLC originally promised, or something new entirely. And, at $39.99, I think that’s a worry that needs to be settled, and a statement that needs to be clarified.
At the end of the day, the average person buying The Lost Legacy is never going to read this; they’re not going to have listened to podcasts or had it explained to them that it’s something totally removed from Uncharted 4. Instead, they’re going to remember the $60 they dropped on the latter last year, and assume the former is just a cash-grab. I think Naughty Dog and PlayStation really need to clean up their marketing here.
But perhaps it’s simply evidence of a much wider issue: that the video game industry lacks solid definitions for things; hell, I had to go to Wikipedia to formally define DLC. Perhaps beyond a marketing tighten up, we need solid ground rules to tell everyone what x actually means. Maybe that’s the first step to the industry taking itself more seriously, and then the wider world following suit.