Well folks, it’s finally here. Ever since the multiplayer trailer debut for Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception it’s been one long wait that’s been on minds of every self respecting PlayStation 3 owner. Now that it’s here, how does it play?
One thing that needs to always be stated on any of these kinds of previews is that it’s still very much a Beta and it should be treated as such. Some people may throw games under the bus immediately but if I know anything about Naughty Dog it’s that they’re all about quality. Uncharted 2 was a testament of that considering how many updates were made to that title since it launched.
Okay, let’s move on to the beta at hand. Initially when you enter multiplayer the first thing you’ll probably notice is at the bottom right corner of your screen and it’s called Uncharted TV. During the beta what Naughty Dog has playing are a couple of looping trailers, and even the “making of” video that appeared after the Video Game Awards earlier this year. There’s also a mulitplayer developer diary of sorts that breaks down a lot of the new play mechanics that are being introduced in this beta. My guess is when the game goes live in November you’ll be able to catch feeds of live games going on in the world, kind of like what the On Live service currently offers.
This time around not only will you be able to join up with your friends on PSN but the game also tracks your friends on Facebook. Not sure if this is one of the first games to incorporate the functionality but it’s definitely a very welcomed feature. considering that as soon as I added it I was able to play with a buddy of mine who I’m friends with on Facebook but not on PSN. Kind of makes that “PSN friend limit” null and void (at least in this game).
So far in the beta there are two maps available. The first is Airstrip, which most will probably recognize from the multiplayer trailer. The map opens up in a sequence straight out of Hollywood where you have the heroes start out in the aircraft speeding down a runway, while the villains team is in flatbed trucks giving chase. The sequence goes on for the 1st two minutes of the map, but eventually the plane does take off. The action then picks up at a nearby plane hangar.
The key to this map from my initial playtime is whoever holds down the main building in the center, and more importantly it’s roof tops, pretty much has control of what’s going on. There is a turret tucked away into one of the corners, but with all the power weapons outside of it’s field of view, it’s only effective for so long.
The second map that is available is Chateau. This map is all about verticality. Players spawn on ground level areas and are separated by, well, a giant chateau (see what they did there). Again, the center building can act as a choke point for either team, but just like the airstrip there are more entrances to watch for than you have people. It makes some tense moments, as you’re trying to keep everyone out.
So what happens when you’re in the wrong end of an ass whooping? The team at Naughty Dog not only has you covered, and, at the same time, they may have changed online shooters forever with something they call “Power Play.”
As Hockey fans already know, a power play is when one team is penalized because a player on the team is at fault and temporarily taken out of the game, and the other team is put at an advantage with extra players. While Uncharted 3 isn’t going to put you in the corner for a time-out, what it does do is give the losing team the opportunity to play catch up.
For a period of 60 seconds, the losing team will receive bonuses for their kills. Things like the self-explanatory double damage or marked man (which picks one man on the opposing team who’s worth 3 kills), and it varies depending on gameplay and strategy. While I’ve heard some people cry foul about this new feature, I have to say that as an above average Uncharted player, if you’re an already seasoned player you’ll learn to use these power plays to your advantage even while you’re in the lead. Things like using the marked man as bait is one tactic that I used quite often with my buddies and it worked quite effectively.
It’s a completely new take on gameplay balance and, again, I know I will have tons of people against it, but it’s a necessary evil when you’re trying to create a game that has online longevity. I have plenty of friends that love Uncharted 2 but they’re not too good at it, which makes them not want to play it online anymore considering that the community that is still on there are all the elites. Things like Power Play will make it easier for the weekend warriors who may not have as much time to game to still enjoy the game when they take it online.
Uncharted 2 started the whole in game economy thing (on consoles at least), and other games since then have taken the idea and ran with it. Looks like with Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog wants to own the throne again as they take their already great existing foundation and add to it here. Boosters are back, which can be purchased and switched on the fly. A new addition here is the one time booster which let’s you do totally cheesy things like purchase a radar before a match. The catch? It’s incredibly expensive and works for only one game. So, if you plan on being an online nuisance, you better stack those chips son!
Along with all of the competitive stuff, we also get brand new co-op games types with a “horde” mode available in the beta. At E3, I had a chance to play some of the narrative driven co-op, which I’m sure will be a huge hit. And of course, what would be the point of the whole Facebook integration if you couldn’t share all your highlights with the world. There’s a cinema mode that will let you create and upload all of your murderous montages.
Things did get off to a rocky start when the beta first went live, and it’s understandable considering how many people were probably downloading it and playing it across the globe. A couple hours later things settled down and that’s when I got a chance to really enjoy it. After a little over two hours of play, I was able to get to a level 10 and begin unlocking some of the better boosters. From what I’ve played so far, I have a feeling that Naughty Dog is going to be able to beat the game’s predecessor across the board — something that I previously thought was impossible.