Earlier this week, Naughty Dog opened up the Multiplayer Beta for their highly anticipated Uncharted 3 to PS+ Subscribers and inFAMOUS 2 owners. I got online to see how it faired.
After an initial problem involving connection errors, Naughty Dog issued a patch that seemed to get everyone in the game. Straight away, you can notice the different approach they seem to be taking with Uncharted 3. Instead of just having skins to choose from, Naughty Dog has added the ability to customise the way your character looks. There are the usual suspects here, like Drake and Sully, but there are also a bunch of other skins that you can then mess about with. From changing the clothes they wear, to adding things like sunglasses; there are many ways to give your character more style. Not all of the custom gear is available in the beta (and most of the stuff there is locked until you reach certain levels), so it does feel limited at the moment, but should be great in the final version.
You can also customise loadouts for both your hero and villain character, something that was missing from Uncharted 2. By doing this, you can change your equipment based on the map you are playing. I feel that this was sorely missed from the last game and will prove useful.
One other thing that they give you to customise is your emblem. Much like the feature in Black Ops, you can create an emblem to suit you, from a wide variety of icons. These can be manipulated in many ways to create your idea banner. This then goes into the game with you, and if you are the top player in a match, your emblem starts appearing throughout the map.
The beta only has 2 maps to play with at the moment, Airstrip and Chateau, but Naughty Dog intends to add another before the 2 week beta is over. Out of the 2 maps, Airstrip is the more intriguing. This is because it takes advantage of the new dynamic multiplayer function of Uncharted 3. Instead of just your standard running around a map, Airstrip takes place over 2 maps, kind of. The map starts with a moving cargo plane trying to take off, with a load of trucks chasing it down the runway. The heroes are already in the plane and the villains are in hot pursuit. It is the villain’s job to try and overtake the plane by jumping from truck to truck and shooting the good guys. It really does feel like something never before tried. It adds another layer to the game and varies things up.
Treasure is also something that has been added to the game. Every time you kill an enemy, there is a chance that they will drop some loot. Collect it, and you may find in-game cash (to spend on customisation) or maybe even a collectable. These treasures will also appear randomly at various points in the match.
As you perform kills and stunts throughout the game, you will earn medals (as you did in Uncharted 2), these add up and, once you have collected enough, you will be able to perform a Kickback. A Kickback is something that will help you turn the tables. For example, the first Kickback available to you is an RPG. Collect 14 medals and then press up on your D-Pad and you will equip an RPG, handy for the guys manning the turrets. There are other Kickbacks, but I have yet to unlock them. These overpowered features don’t break the balance of the game, as it takes so many medals to activate them, you will probably only get one Kickback per match.
The final, big change they have made to the matches is the introduction of Power Plays. At random points during a match, a woman’s voice will signal the start of a Power Play. A Power Play can involve Killing or Protecting a VIP target, giving one of the teams double damage or marking all enemy players. Again, this mixes things up a bit and can also help turn the tide of battle.
They have also added a ’Buddy’ system to Uncharted 3. When a match starts, you will be automatically assigned a ’buddy’ for the duration of the match. If you die, you will have the option to respawn next to your buddy, but just make sure they are not in combat when you do. If you and your buddy team up to take some one down, you will then be able to perform high fives or fist pumps. It will earn you a medal or two, but doesn’t do much else, other than look cool.
The game itself does look better than Uncharted 2 (didn’t actually think that was possible), but is full of bugs at the moment, as you would expect from a Beta. Players move slightly slower than in 2, but this may be because they have added a sprint function to the controls. Most of the core mechanics seem to work fine and will probably only need a bit of work prior to the full release. Unfortunately, matchmaking issues that were ever-present in Uncharted 2 still continue to rear their ugly heads. It can sometimes take up to 5 minutes to find a match, and the wait between matches is still far too long. The levelling up system remains the same, using cash as XP, and the menu is easy enough to navigate (Note: There is an option to link to Facebook, although this doesn’t work at the moment).
The 5 modes of play available are:
Free For All
Three Team Deathmatch
Co-op Arena (Horde mode)
New modes will be introduced, along with a new map, over the course of the Beta. Uncharted 3 Multiplayer seems like it is destined for greatness. Sure, there will be those that absolutely hate the changes that have been made, but that is to be expected. I feel that Naughty Dog seem to have done a great job in evolving the multiplayer and, as long as they can do something about the matchmaking, this may well be my MP of choice come 2012!