Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta Impressions – Week 3

Well, the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta has come and gone, and in the final week, Naughty Dog rolled out a big update with lots of new modes to check out. In all, this update brought us closest to what we’ll see in the final version, with new co-op modes, access to old modes, and a couple of new maps to explore.


Uncharted 3 (PS3 [Reviewed])
Developer: Naughty Dog Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 29, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Naughty Dog has been rotating multiplayer modes in and out during the course of the beta, both cooperative and competitive, but it wasn’t until the third week that most options were turned on the entire time. The developer has been working up to this stage by slowly moving different modes in and out, and despite some early issues in the first week, everything seemed to run pretty smoothly by week three, despite the additional game modes and maps. It seems the beta test has gone pretty well.

Chief among the new updates was the Adventure mode, a returning game type from Uncharted 2 that allowed up to three players to take on a chunk of the single-player campaign cooperatively. Adventure mode opened up a new map to players, Syria, and worked in some new actions that players haven’t really faced up to now in the other competitive modes. Syria sees a lot of climbing, a lot of shooting NPCs, and a few situations in which players need to quickly juggle moving and placing golden idols while still doing battle with swarms of enemies.

The Adventure mode map isn’t bad, although it’s not too long and it seems to cut off just as things get interesting and Drake, Sully and Elena have to face down a helicopter attack. Playing it more than once or twice seems like a stretch, though — its most interesting moments have the heroes scaling a wall while enemies shoot down at them from the top of a tower, and while it’s a cool twist on the standard Uncharted formula, it’s also a little bit frustrating.

Adventure mode does push for teamwork in the same quality ways that Uncharted’s other co-op modes do. Players can resurrect one another if they are injured and aren’t killed outright, and all players share a community pool of lives that’s depleted as they die, so helping each other to make it through the mode is critical. Not that there’s all that much challenge in this Adventure mode if you’ve got a decent team of players behind you, but seeing as it’s a beta, that’s not that big of a deal.

Back on the competitive side of the beta, the third week saw the inclusion of a new multiplayer map to complement Airstrip and Chateau, called Yemen — and while it offers different, fresh challenges as compared to the other two, it’s also the archetype map for the beta’s biggest failing, which is getting utterly destroyed from behind by players you have no hope of avoiding. Yemen is all vertical, and basically designed for sniping, with lots of rooftops, portholes, towers and ladders. Running around on the ground is a terrible proposition, as you’re generally signing up to get shot by someone above you you never see lying in wait.

Yemen can be fun, but for the most part, it’s just trying. It’s designed for campers, which seems at odds with the speed and flexibility that characters can move around with in Uncharted. You’re rewarded for sitting tight, taking potshots, and ambushing people climbing up the tower to try to take you out. Moving and trying to oust people from their entrenched positions is always a losing proposition. Maps that reward players who hide and refuse to engage are frustrating, and Yemen can definitely be that.

On the plus side, though, with all the modes available in the Uncharted 3 beta, the whole thing feels really great and full. Naughty Dog devs have said they want Uncharted 3 to be the benchmark for PS3 multiplayer, and there are enough features on offer that you’re never without something to do, and overall it seems all the customization is going to be great. The Kickback and Booster systems potentially could be great, especially as they get fleshed out more, and when Naughty Dog’s tweaks like the Power Play system work, they work exceedingly well. It’s easy for Uncharted to be a fun and competitive game, while at the same time remaining easy going and casual in equal measures. That’s no small feat — it’s a game that can be inviting to hardcore and not-so-hardcore players.

But it also can be very frustrating, and the beta had balancing issues that persisted all the way through it. Naughty Dog will hopefully address many of these, but if maps like Yemen are going to make it all the way to the final game, there’s not much that can be done with them; many players will like them, many will hate them, but it doesn’t feel like the level design on that map in particular is well-matched to a variety of play styles, and that limits its potential. Naughty Dog will need to step it up with future maps to make sure they’re not dominated by a single type of player, and Yemen demonstrates that pitfall pretty thoroughly. If the game is filled with one-note experiences like that one, it won’t be much fun.

I’m very optimistic now that the beta is concluded, though, despite some initial misgivings. With some balancing work and some serious attention paid to level design, Naughty Dog might really be creating the pinnacle of PS3 online experiences here. It definitely has laid some great groundwork with its competitive and cooperative modes and the various new gameplay features and customization options on hand. If all the elements work in harmony most of the time, Uncharted 3 will shape up to be great fun.

Pros:

  • Great variety in play types
  • Lots of cool innovations, like power plays
  • Solid customization and good use of economy system
  • Fast-paced, vertical gameplay works great on Uncharted 3′s maps
  • Great co-op modes

Cons:

  • Some balance issues between weapons and melee
  • Newest map, Yemen, is mostly camper-friendly
  • Lots of getting killed by enemies you can’t see or avoid

Final Score: 80/100

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1 Comment on Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta Impressions – Week 3

anonymous

On July 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

I have to disagree with you about Yemen. There are plenty of ways to avoid the camping snipers out in the open. One of the funnest things about this map is that you can cleverly run underground and come out on the surface behind one of the towers or camping positions. I got rewarded with quite a few easy kills doing that. In this way, the map is really well designed. Sure, it is obvious that the map emphasizes slower, more long range gunfights, but there are plenty of alleyways and obscure routes to travel to get the jump on unsuspecting enemies. It can get frustrating at times, but it is the most creative map design in the beta, and it ended up being my favorite map as well.