It’s been a while since we’ve seen seen the headstrong Chloe Frazer in action. The last time we saw her was in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, which launched over five years ago. Since then a lot has changed in Chloe’s life. She’s moved up in the treasure-hunting business, taking on bigger jobs with higher risks. In the standalone expansion, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, she tackles her biggest project yet, searching India for the highly valuable Tusk of Ganesh. Naughty Dog had to reimagine Chloe for The Lost Legacy just like they did with Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4, taking into account the passage of time and showing the maturity of the character. While we visited Naughty Dog for our recent cover story, the artists and animators spoke to us about what went into Chloe’s redesign.
For Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog’s graphics engine took the biggest overhaul, making everything look more realistic than before. The team was tasked with bringing Chloe’s design up to the standard of what was set with Uncharted 4. She was finally the lead, requiring more attention devoted to her than ever before. Since Chloe is a legacy character, who fans already have an attachment to, the design team felt extra pressure to get her just right. Chloe had to age, but she also needed to remain familiar to fans. As such, she has her iconic ponytail, but also minor signs of aging, such as crow’s feet.
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“This is a character that everyone fell in love with in Uncharted 2,” says concept artist Richard Lyons. “[We asked], ‘How do we keep all those elements familiar, but bring it into a space which is more suitable for where we want our games to be?’ And we were terrified that no one was going to recognize her at the PSX demo. We were looking at so many different things, such as facial features and getting the ponytail right…even where the part [in her hair] was.” Thankfully, the audience recognized Chloe and cheered when they saw her entire face. According to Lyons, fans came up to the team afterward, saying her smokey eye makeup was a dead giveaway.
Chloe still dresses similarly, wearing jeans and earth colors, but one thing she’s abandoned is her crop top. “We’re just trying to basically marry that relationship of Uncharted 2, which everyone goes back to, but it’s more in materials, colors, and thematic kind of traits rather than, ‘Does she have to have a crop top?’” Lyons says. The team all agreed in the eight years since Uncharted 2, Chloe’s fashion sense would have changed a bit. “You try to put yourself in her mind and think, ‘What would she be wearing now?,” Lyons says. The team made sure to keep certain standbys, right down to her pistol preference and the amount of jewelry she wears.
In addition to up-resing the character model, all the tech upgrades from Uncharted 4 needed to be applied to Chloe, including minute details such as how sweat and dirt look on her. Animations for Chloe also had to be considered; she wouldn’t move like Nathan Drake. Chloe is shorter than Drake, so she doesn’t have the reach he does, but she also has a more elegant climbing style. Similarly, her melee combat skills are more graceful than Drake, who spent most of his time throwing haymakers. Chloe is not trained in martial arts, but because of her slight frame, she uses her knees, legs, and momentum to take down foes.
Chloe’s appearance has certainly evolved, but so has her story in The Lost Legacy. This is Naughty Dog’s first chance to really dive into her backstory and explore why Chloe is a self-preservationist. The soul-searching journey should bring us into new territory with the character when it launches later this year on PlayStation 4.
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