UNCHARTED 3 - Multiplayer Beta Impressions

The beta shows off everything you have come to expect from Uncharted's new multiplayer experience and the improvement is most evident in the selection of game modes on offer!

2009 saw the release of Infamous, a Playstation 3 exclusive title, and with it came early access to Uncharted 2€™s newly conceived multiplayer experience €“ and what an experience it was. Fast forward to June 2011 and the release of Infamous 2 and early access to Uncharted 3's latest multiplayer experience. Uncharted 2€™s first foray into the multiplayer sphere gave us a strong emphasis on competitive and co-operative action. What it had over the competition was the skilful combination of lateral and vertical movement and action. This added an extra layer of skill, strategy and tactics to proceedings. The action wasn€™t confined to what you saw in front of you or that came from behind you, but what was all around you. With the release of this latest beta Naughty Dog plans to up the ante, the action and more importantly the fun. Previously access was confined to early infamous 2 owners and Playstation plus members last Tuesday saw the full release of the beta. The beta shows off everything you have come to expect from multiplayer games and this is most evident in the selection of game modes on offer. There€™s the standard team death match mode. Plunder is the Uncharted universes Capture the flag. The competitive modes are rounded out with Free for all, Team objective (objectives have to be completed in a best of three contest to win), High stakes (XP and money are bet) and Hardcore (No frills, mods or power plays just straight up action). On the co-operative side there is Co-op Arena (you and a buddy have to survive ten rounds of enemies), Co-op Hunter (you, a friend and the AI against two heroes) and finally a story driven co-op adventure. However what you quickly come to realise is that no matter what game mode you are on the action and the fun is defined by a few different things.

The levels

While there only two levels available at present you get a sense of scale and variety that the developers are trying to implement. They are both fun, detailed and allow numerous ways to get from point A to B. More importantly they add something different to multiplayer. The Airstrip has quickly become a favourite among the community and this is largely because of its opening. The level opens with a action set piece straight from the movies. One team starts on a cargo plane as it hurtles along a runway with the rear door open. The other team chases in following trucks. Chaos ensues as players jump from truck to truck or truck to plane and vice versa, all the battling. After a period of time the battle then commences on foot on an open map. Set in the hanger section of an airstrip there is a variety of spots to fight from. Sitting in the middle of the map is the main hanger which utilises transport boxes and a catwalk for the outlying roofs. Spread round the outside is various different obstacles that can be tackled by going over, around or sometimes through. Weapons are scattered throughout meaning a scramble for power weapons is a must. The level also has mounted gun stations at opposite ends that over look a small section of map. The level is well balanced with no areas more fortified than the other allowing skill tactics and luck to prevail. What€™s also of benefit on the airstrip is that one section becomes a choke point if you are able to reach it. The chateau plays slightly more open with teams battling from one end or another. The chateau has two floors and over looks two sections. The advantage here lies on the high section, however defending it is about skill. The emphasis in this level is about movement whether it€™s vertical or horizontal. This is aided by a zip-line that gets you out of the thick of action in an instance. Again weapons are evenly scattered on the map so knowing where a specific weapon is will be an advantage. If the variety and fun in these two levels is anything to go by I am looking forward to the rest. UPDATE: Added over night was a new multiplayer map. The Yemen map is radically different to the other two maps. While they were open and relatively large, the Yemen map is small and compact with loads of vantage points. Getting high is the order of business. The map has three levels to fight from the ground is dense in terms of structures and obstacles, the second level up adds more cover and more places to fight from and the top level has the best vantage points but are limited in terms of movement and they are harder to defend .The map moves the action on at a fast pace and finding places to fight from is a must. The map also makes use of zip-lines that helps changes the field of play.

Power plays and The Buddy System

Two new additions to the multiplayer are Power Plays and the buddy system. Power plays are automatic events that trigger during game play. They become available during team deathmatch when the game is completely one-sided. Now power plays are not there to re-address the balance of play. They are there to give you a hand and keep you motivated. There is nothing worse than being completely outclassed. Power Plays allow the better team to earn extra coins while the worse team gets to reduce the deficit. This makes the experience more tolerable if you are on the losing team. The second new addition is the buddy system. The buddy system works by partnering you up with another play. This has a few crucial benefits. It allows you to spawn on that player when they are not in direct combat. This allows you to get right back into the thick of the action. You will also see your buddy no matter where you are on the map. Also it allows your buddy to pick up treasure that enemies may have dropped when they have been killed. Furthermore you are able to perform high five over €˜kills€™ that earns you medal and cash.

Boosters

The boosters are back and have brought upgrades and friends. Boosters work in the same way as they did last time. Depending on what booster was picked players would see an improvement in a specific area €“ for example the returning booster Monkey Man allowed faster climbing. The few booster that are available offer a variety of tweaks and in more areas. While last games boosters mainly affected the direct action of the game previously, new boosters affect more aspects. For instance the Back in the Saddle booster decreases respawn time or the Lucky Me booster increase the chance of getting goods from chests. As well as adding a variety of boosters, they are also upgradable. Completing certain tasks with an equip booster upgrades the affect of that booster. Only two boosters are equip-able. Joining Boosters are Medal Kickbacks. The Kickbacks work as a reward for amassing medals in a game. Each kickback requires a specific amount of medals to be earned. Medals are awarded for certain events such as defeating five enemies without dying earns you the streak medal or killing an enemy that is actively shooting a teammate earns the Defender medal. Once you have enough medals you are able to active your kickback. The available kickbacks have a variety of uses and help you out when you are in a tough spot. Militia Man and Smoke Bomb are two such kickbacks. The former an offensive kickback allows no reloading for 30 seconds while the latter a defensive kickback allows you to vanish in a puff of smoke. For an extra edge there is also Paid Boosters. These pricey items give you an advantage like an extra grenade or you do more damage but they are expensive and only last one round.

Customisation

Naughty Dog has added customisation to Uncharted series. Appearance, weapons and logos are available to customise. The appearance customisation allows players to change the look of their selected character. This allows a level of uniqueness to differentiate characters on the same team that many have the same selected characters. Appearance items range from hats, glasses, tops and trousers. Weapon mods have been added to the game also. Mods are earn through levelling up and improve different attributes on different weapons. For instance some weapons get larger clips or reload speed increase while others may get an accuracy upgrade or max ammo. As of now there is only a limited amount of mods, however of what€™s available, you can see the improvements in game. You are also given different loadouts. The loads out let you choose between different set ups during the game and allow different weapon set ups as well as different medal kickbacks and boosters. There are also different taunts to select. When you score a kill you can stand over the body and perform a taunt. There are a variety of taunts to pick from. Lastly there are emblems. Emblems are logos you have created that show up in the map. As you score kills, the best players in the game will find there Emblem hanging up around the map. This adds a competitive edge to the game as well as bragging rights. Being a beta this is far from being the full list of customisable options available. The uncharted multiplayer experience is an enjoyable experience. There is something for every type of player whether they prefer competitive or cooperative play. If they are into customisation. There are also social networking capabilities that allow YouTube and Facebook connectivity. There are clear standouts in terms of game modes, weapon selections and kick backs and there is depth in all aspects of play. Obviously being a beta there are bugs that need to be squashed out however during my play time I haven€™t come across any game-breaking ones. Tweaks need to be made in some sections of the game. For instance the melee while decent always feels like a gamble to use as it never quite feels fluid. If you run up to the enemy and are not in striking distance when you press the melee button you stop dead in your tracks and leave yourself open to attack. The weapons feel and handle differently and allows for tactical game play. Game modes are varied and different. Playing 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 is a real blast when playing with friends. Every often it means playing smart and in your team rather than going it alone. With the added level elements and game play features the levels are always fun and it never feels like you are doing the same thing over and over again. And before I forget sprinting has also been added, so whether you need to make up some ground or a hastily retreat you are covered. The Uncharted multiplayer is shaping up to be a worthy successor that builds on all the elements that the first multiplayer introduced. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy39fYPYyQI
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Nathan Merchant hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.