Uncharted 3: Multiplayer Beta Hands-on
The new King of the Hill.
Let me begin with an explanation with my love for the Uncharted series. Well, better to say for the developer, Naughty Dog. Crash Bandicoot was one of the very first games I played on the Playstation one. Then loved the Jak and Daxter series on the PS2. When I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, it felt nostalgic. The game wasn’t anything new, but the way it was presented and the way the core mechanics worked out, it was love at first sight. Suffice to say, it was the best single player experience I had in a long time, until Uncharted 2 came along. This may sound funny, and it does, now that I say it. I played and completed the sequel at GAMES’ 09, standing in the Sony booth, playing the game for 4-5 hours in the course of three days. Call me crazy, but, it was really fun. I didn’t dive in the multiplayer till I got my own copy. (No Wi-fi at the convention). Now that I have explained myself, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Uncharted 3.
With the release of Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog entered the realm of online gaming. The multiplayer in the sequel was quite balanced, with variety of maps and the norm multiplayer modes. Naughty Dog wants to improve on that and make it much better and compete with giants like Call of Duty and Gear of War. The release still being six months away, Naughty dog has more than enough time to debug and enhance the experience, with the data collected in the Multiplayer Beta.
For those who have had experience with the multiplayer in Uncharted 2, this may feel similar with a few exceptions. If you are new to the series, it is pretty easy to figure out and Naughty Dog is smart enough to drop hints to ease the understanding. The beta is pretty small, only giving access to two maps (which will be explained further) and five multiplayer modes.
To start things off, the player needs to select a preloaded character, or can create one with the wealth of options available. This includes a wardrobe, specific load outs and perks players can select. Obviously, to select items you need to earn cash by playing and leveling up to receive rank-only advantages. Till now I have played with characters that have reached level 40 and I am guessing have every available perk, weapon and booster the beta provides.
The meat of the experience lies in the multiplayer modes itself. The modes that are included are pretty standard fare, but still have the Uncharted feeling to it. It includes Free for all, team deathmatch, three team deathmatch, hardcore and Co-op. No one seems to be playing three team deathmatch because it never found any players in matchmaking. Hardcore and Team deathmatch are alike, the only difference being that hardcore does not have access to boosters and medal kickbacks. Nothing needs to be explained for free for all. It basically is you against everyone else. Co-op and Hardcore is where I spent most of my time.
Co-op has a mixed bag of modes that are all played during the twenty minutes time limit. These are survival, gold rush and siege. Co-op pits you and two other players against computer AI and you have to complete each mode within the time limit or in the case of siege, capture the point to win. If you are looking for a quick rank up, co-op is the mode to play. The perks and kickbacks provided in co-op are different from the ones provided in deathmatch.
What makes the beta great, other than the gameplay obviously, is the way it is presented. The menus are streamlined and easy to understand. On the bottom right coner is something called the Uncharted TV. It shows gameplay and developer dairies and is a great way to cool off between matches. The cinema records the previous 9 games and shows how you have played. You have the option to delete, protect/unprotect and upload the video. It’s a useful feature to have if something funny happened during the game.
There are only two maps available in the beta. One is the ‘Chateau’, a vast crumbling estate in the jungle, and to jog your memory the fire demo. The other, and my favorite, is the Airstrip. This is a two tier map. The first half takes place on the airstrip, where one team spawns in a cargo plane and the other on trucks chasing the plane. The trucks are going at top speed and jumping at the right moment is the key. It’s a dynamic map, and with everything happening, there was no slowdown. The second part takes place in a hanger/complex. Both maps feature multiple levels and is sound for 10 players. Power weapons are spread across the maps to give players the edge over others. One thing that was a little ‘not-so-perfect’ was the climbing sections. It didn’t cause much of a problem at the start, but when trying to escape gun fire, it did become a little nuisance. Hopefully, this will be fixed in the retail copy.
I noticed no lag whatsoever and the experience was very smooth. No crashes or glitches that I found. The game does a good job at balancing the teams and no one team is stronger than the other in terms of player ranks. There were a few occasions where it took a little time between matches. I guess it would be because the older players left or it automates a new match altogether.
For a beta, Naughty Dog did an excellent job. They have more than enough time to highlight and fix any mistakes. The beta is online till July 14th and the game is scheduled to release on November 1st. Mark you calendars and start saving. Come this fall, you have a lot of spending to do!