Like many of you who have played the Uncharted series, I suspect word of a third entry (which was officially debuted at E3 this year) made you just as excited as it did me. Despite my own issues with some of the mechanics of the game, the story and characters within it are some of the best you’ll find in any game.
Also announced at E3 this year was some interesting information about the multiplayer aspect. First, they announced a beta testing period (which began yesterday) and they also announced that the completed multiplayer will be available an entire month before the release of the actual game. We’re here to discuss the former.
Upon first opening the beta, you’re greeted with a very colorful and active menu. On the left you’ve got your customization and matchmaking options, in the center, your character and the visual cues he/she might take based on your changes (he runs off the screen to get a new weapon whenever you change your loadout) and on the right is a nifty little video screen, depicting scenes from the single-player campaign and the multiplayer maps, as well as any news tidbits that may be coming from NaughtyDog. Though some might think this to be crowded, it actually vibes well. No one feature overpowers the next and the interactivity showed nary a hiccup.
Matchmaking itself seemed a bit slow at first, but I suspect this was due to the limited number of people who were online at the time. Regardless of that fact, once the lobby was full and the voting commenced on the maps (a little wonky, but likely to get better), the match began without delay.
Initial gameplay was hindered by massive amounts of lag and two freezes of my system, so I had to wait a day until NaughtyDog released a patch, but once that was downloaded, everything played like a dream. The character movement flowed very nicely compared to some shooters I have played and had a bit of a Socom feel to it. Controlling the character in the multiplayer is just like controlling it in the single-player campaign, which is great. The platforming aspects of the multiplayer definitely make it a diverse experience compared to games that require you to ascend/descend to different levels of the map by using stairs/inclines.
The two modes I played – Team Deathmatch (TDM) and Free For All (FFA) – both had a nice feel to them as well. The only thing that was a little odd were the changing components of the TDM such as the periods of 60 seconds during which the enemy could see your location on the map at all times. This changes periodically through the match and – while a cool feature – leaves me wanting a mode of just TDM with no gimmicks (which I’m sure will be in the final release).
If you’re not impressed by this aspect of the Uncharted 3 (UC3) multiplayer, you won’t be impressed by anything. Aesthetically, the maps are very well made and feature vibrant colors that leave you wanting to explore them. The way they are set up leave something to be desired, such as buildings that you would suspect to have more than one passage to the other side leaving you searching before realizing such a passage does not exist. This is a very minor nit-pick, however.
Interactivity of the maps is best exemplified in the Air Strip map (my personal favorite), which begins with a moving cargo plane being tailed by a revolving group of flat-bed trucks that you can jump between and use to get onto the plane. You can either use the trucks to your advantage by using them to flank the enemies who are using the open doors on the side of the plane or you can use the cargo in the back of the plane to keep the people in the the trucks at bay. Eventually, this scene transitions to the plane taking off and landing at a nearby air strip (hence the title) where there are multiple vantage points and cover areas for the teams (heroes or villains) to fight it out.
I’m looking forward to seeing what else the maps have to offer when the full multiplayer comes out in October.
This is an area I feel to be lacking when compared to the rest of the multiplayer experience so far. While reloading is just as efficient as it is in the single-player mode (at least based on my experience with Uncharted 2), the weapons seem to be incredibly underpowered (unless you’re one of those people running around with an RPG). Using the G-Mal assault rifle, it takes an average of about 4 pulls of the trigger to get a kill and that’s if you’re at close to medium range with minimal movement. If you break that down into the 3-round bursts coming from the gun, that’s 12 bullets to kill someone! I’m not saying everyone should die within three shots, but come on – 12 rounds? Really?
The aiming reticle when zooming in works pretty well, but could use a little more tweeking (as I’m sure it will get) for hit detection, which is something that most multiplayer games haven’t gotten right yet. Hipfire isn’t terrible, and you should use it if you’re at close range without time to aim, but I wouldn’t depend on it for the entire match unless you’re trying to get better at it.
Overall, for being a beta, the UC3 multiplayer is shaping up to be very impressive. Its mechanics work well, the maps look great and the menus are user-friendly. Though the weapons need a bit of tweaking and the maps could use a good once-over, I see no reason why UC3′s multiplayer will be unsuccessful in its own right. It’s not Call of Duty or Socom or Battlefield. And I think that’s something working in its favor.
Played the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta? Let us know what you think!