I have never indulged in the online component of the Uncharted series; instead I have solely played Uncharted for its excellent single player campaigns. Due to my lack of experience with Uncharted multiplayer, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta. But in the end, what I did experience was an online component that offers a fun alternative to the single player campaign. It may not be the reason a majority of players purchase Uncharted 4 next year, but online offers a unique brand of multiplayer fun.
Impressively Uncharted 4 multiplayer gameplay feel almost identical to the single player campaign. Although this may seem like a no brainer, I was genuinely impressed by how Naughty Dog has been able to make the act of traversal become just as important as the art of shooting. Learning how to utilise the grappling hook to swing out of enemy gun fire, or simply hanging off a ledge to take down an enemy unaware is great fun.
The Uncharted series has never been the pinnacle of smooth shooting gameplay, with many players feeling like the shooting aspects are some of the weakest parts of the series. During the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta I felt like this was easily the best gun-play offering the series has ever delivered. The overall gun-play felt smooth and refined, with the combination of rolls and traversal creating a brilliant gameplay package; one that made each death feel like user error, rather than due to poor controls.
Uncharted 4 multiplayer also surprisingly has a strong emphasis on teamwork, with players able to revive one another. Throughout my extensive time online, it was always the team that banded together to keep one another alive that would come out victorious. Players that ignore reviving a teammate will be handing one point to the opposition, and during close encounters that can be the difference between victory and defeat.
The Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta only offered 5 v 5 Team Deathmatch across two different maps, which is certainly a slim slice of what the overall multiplayer package will contain upon release. Both maps looked visually gorgeous, and due to the small amount of players each map is condensed. Though these maps are small in comparison to most online multiplayer offerings, the size meant finding an opponent never took long; with action packed battles around every corner.
Two teams of five (one a team of heroes, the other villains) battle to reach 35 kills, the first team to reach that goal is victorious. Players can choose almost any character from the Uncharted series, including fan favourites Nathan Drake, Elena and Sullivan; to the villainous Lazaravic, Marlowe and Harry Flynn.
Uncharted 4’s multiplayer does not take itself too seriously; instead it embraces the series and offers some over the top laughs. This is mostly due to the unlockable vanity items, which include different skins, hats and taunts. Watching Nathan Drake in a tuxedo and a pair of aviators pulling hilarious taunts never gets old, neither does seeing a pre-match image of five Nathan Drakes posing like a boy band. Uncharted 4 multiplayer is at its best when it embraces this over the top nature.
Due to the fact every character is statistically identical; creating your perfect loadout becomes critically important. Uncharted 4 multiplayer offers a structure similar to the Call of Duty Pick 10 system, giving players a specific number of points to assign items and weapons; with the most powerful choices taking up more of your points.
Aside from simple weapons players also have access to Sidekicks, Mystical items and Power-ups. Sidekicks are AI controlled buddies that specialise in a certain field. For instance the Savior is able to hand out ammo and revive teammates; while the Brute will slowly walk the battlefield with a powerful weapon at his disposal. Mystical items on the other hand, allow players to summon iconic supernatural elements from the Uncharted series into battle; such as the Cintamani Stone.
Players can summon items by using cash earned in their current match at any time, with the price of items increasing after an initial purchase; meaning players won’t be able to utilise the same items continuously. It’s an interesting system that rewards players on their performance in-game. Learning which Sidekick and Mystical item to summon in each situation becomes a critical choice in battle, one that can easily turn the tide in your favour. Even though these items and power-ups are helpful, they can be easily avoided by smart players who know how to utilise cover, rolling abilities and grappling hook techniques. Unlike Call of Duty where some killstreak rewards can decimate an entire team regardless of skill, Uncharted 4’s purchasable items feel manageable rather than all powerful.
The Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta definitely left a positive impression, but I still struggle to see the online component being a key selling point upon release. The online multiplayer is definitely a fun distraction from the single player campaign, but I don’t know how long it will keep players interested. One of the main reasons I see players struggling to stay online is the lack of progression. Though vanity items can be unlocked by completing set challenges, there wasn’t much more incentive to keep playing.
Hopefully when the full Uncharted 4 multiplayer component is released Naughty Dog is able to deliver an enticing incentive to keep playing, which certainly could be delivered if Uncharted 4 offers some uniquely fun multiplayer modes. Embracing the Uncharted universe to create some truly unique situations could certainly turn what is already a fun distraction, into a strong online community.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is scheduled to release March 18, 2016 exclusively on PlayStation 4.