With the dust settled, guns holstered and enough buildings destroyed to make even a Michael Bay movie look amateur, it can only mean that the UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception beta has come to an end. Well, what did we think?
Stuck at home for the summer, with nothing to do, I really couldn’t have received much better news than UNCHARTED 3’s multiplayer beta soon to go live. I can’t say I was too happy at the prospect of waiting an extra week to access it but joining PlayStation Plus or purchasing Infamous 2 for earlier access seemed a step too far, even for a hardcore Uncharted fan like myself. Then came the hack and the resulting PSN downtime, a nuisance to many, expensive for Sony and a godsend to fans who didn’t want to have to wait that extra week to see the beautiful, and now customisable, Nathan Drake back on their screens.
With my diary cleared for the week, I uncharacteristically got up at 9am on the morning of the 28th and went straight to my PlayStation. It wasn’t there. Not the PlayStation, that would’ve been a tragedy, the beta. Of course it wasn’t there, I live in the UK.
Over twelve hours later and it finally went live in Britain, after all this waiting it would have to be something really special. And it was. After four hours of installation that is.
It took nothing more than the first note of Greg Edmonson’s brilliant and familiar soundtrack and I was straight back in the world of Uncharted, the world that Naughty Dog so kindly created.
After customising the colour of Drake’s shirt and pants, something I later discovered could be done whilst waiting for a game, the first thing I noticed was how much quicker and easier it was to get a game going. Naughty Dog’s first stray into multiplayer with Drake, 2009’s Among Thieves, constantly tested by loyalty by keeping me waiting twenty minutes just to start a match. In the short amount of time it took for me to be thrown into my first match I did, however, manage to miss the ‘all matchtypes’ search option from Among Thieves.
One of the first things you notice in UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception, if you’re like me that is, is that you can change the way that your character looks. You are encouraged to create a team emblem which, if you are the highest scoring player in the game, will be featured across the buildings on the maps. The beta only allows you to play as a handful of characters, something I’m sure will change once the actual game arrives, but you can customise what they are wearing and the colours of their clothes.
For example, I had Drake’s half tucked shirt blue with his pants black. The beta didn’t provide all of the colours available but it was nice to be able to have your Drake looking slightly different from the other four Drake’s on your team. Different items of clothing could be unlocked throughout the game by either levelling up of finding complete treasure sets.
Not only does Drake’s Deception allow you to customise the look of your character but the weapon which they will use. The M4 was by far my favourite gun in the game but it required levelling up pretty high or killing someone else and stealing it off of them. Until I was able to get hold of the gun I wanted though I was happy to just add extra features to my available weapons such as bigger clips and scopes.
The first week of the beta provided us with two maps, the aforementioned, airstrip and the chateau; both which we’re sure will feature heavily in the single player campaign. Each map boasted many-a-place for Drake, or your chosen character, to hide and even some gun turrets to play with.
The chateau, which seemed to be the most popular with the beta players, had the rustic, grungy Uncharted feel to it. Overgrown grass surrounded crumbling ruins in which the player could hide behind providing some pretty decent vantage points throughout the map. The chateau building itself, previously seen in a single player gameplay trailer, was just as unkempt with the building falling down it was the perfect place for Drake and co to take on some renegade villains.
Starting a team match on the chateau map generally meant you would each start at opposite ends of the map with the main building standing between you. After a while, as players became more familiar with the scene, you knew that if you went around a certain corner you were bound to find the rest of your team locked in a gun battle with the other team. This is true for most maps on most multiplayer games though and isn’t necessarily something I can criticise UNCHARTED 3’s multiplayer mode for.
It was the zip line that I liked the most about the chateau though. In a panic to escape the bullets of four opponents I would sprint, they’ve added a sprint feature, to the hole in the side of the building and grab a hold of the zip line that would either lead me to safety or my death. Either way it was fun to watch and interact with.
The other map that Naughty Dog introduced in the first week of the beta was the airstrip. The airstrip was an interesting map to say the least. In certain gameplay modes, such as Team Deathmatch, the game would begin on an actual airstrip with the heroes (Nate and pals) defending an, about to take off, airplane from the villains who were chasing it eagerly in 4x4s. Reminiscent of UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves’ Convoy level as a villain it is your job to jump between the vehicles and take out the heroes in order to make your way onto the plane before it takes off.
After take off both teams, regardless of who was on the plane before take off, arrive at the main map. In the centre of the airstrip map is a bunker kind of building which boasts one of the beta’s most impressive, little things; a button which your character can interact to open and close the shutter doors, always useful if you’re being attacked from all sides.
What with Drake’s inspiring climbing abilities it is of course no problem for you to make your way onto the top of the bunker where you can either hide, in a collapsible shelter, or get a good look at the map from above. Like the chateau the airstrip provides two gun turrets to play with and adds more realism when two planes fly over head shooting at the scene below and destroying certain aspects of the map.
Yemen was added as an available map to the beta towards the end and was much smaller than the previous two but with plenty more hiding places and vantage points. Where the chateau and the airstrip were played with teams attacking from opposite ends of buildings Yemen was centred more around the three different levels of the building.
The beta began with just a selection of game modes; Team Deathmatch, Three Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Team Objective and Co-Op Adventure. As expected they were all your standard third person shooter multiplayer modes with a bit of an Uncharted spin put on things. Free for All, a new addition to the Uncharted franchise, somehow ended up being my favourite; perhaps it had something to do with me not having to depend on anyone and being able to shoot at everything that moved. Three Team Deathmatch was an interesting addition as well with three teams of two facing off against each other.
For week two of the beta Naughty Dog added in Plunder, High Stakes and Co-Op Hunter modes. Plunder, the Uncharted franchises capture the flag, was welcomed eagerly but it was the two new additions that were the most interesting.
High Stakes gave the player the chance to gamble the money and experience that they had so far gained from gameplay by betting on the outcome of the match. If you were pretty confident that you were going to win then it definitely provided a great way to up your experience level and get your hands on new weapons, mods and boosters.
Hunter mode, on the other hand, offered a much different Co-Op experience to previous modes offered in Uncharted. Co-op Hunter entails a team of two heroes going up against a team of two villains. The heroes’ objective in Hunter mode is to collect and return as many different treasures as they can whilst the villains have to stop them. Sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. Naughty Dog have gone all out this time around when trying to incorporate as much of the single player aspect into the multiplayer as they can without straying too far from multiplayer norms. The team of villains in the Hunter mode are assisted by a group of AI villains, much like the ones Drake faces in single player mode.
Power Plays and Buddy System
Aside from the maps and modes the Drake’s Deception beta also gave fans the first look at power plays and the buddy system. Power Plays are a new addition that aim to give losing teams a bit of a chance which is always nice when you’re being pummelled 40 – 0 but not so nice if you’ve been hammering the other team only to have them come back thanks to a power play.
Power Plays can come in different forms and are only available for a select amount of time so as not to give the losers a total advantage, just a bit of a nudge. The ones we saw in the beta ranged from VIP, where a certain member of the winning team is selected as a marked man and extra points are given to the losing team if they kill him whilst the winning team need to try and protect him. Another Power Play used in the beta is one that makes the losing teams ammo more effective, killing the winning team in fewer hits.
The Buddy System that has been incorporated into UNCHARTED 3 pairs you up, in every team match, with another player; your ‘buddy’. The only thing I really noticed the buddy system did was allow you to spawn next to your buddy after dying, allowing you to get back into the action except if your buddy was being attacked you couldn’t spawn near them.
UNCHARTED 3 is beautiful, even without taking into account the fact that I was playing as Nate. Once again Naughty Dog have outdone themselves with the attention to detail but its no surprise really.
The multiplayer will never live up to the single player mode but it a pretty decent feature that definitely adds to the replay value. It would seem that after 2009’s Among Thieves which caved the way for an Uncharted multiplayer Naughty Dog have really taken note of what the fans like, dislike and want to see.
Will I be playing the multiplayer in November when the game hits shelves? No, not until I’m done with the single player but I’ll definitely make my way across to it eventually and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. In an age where gamers insist on their favourite games having a multiplayer option Uncharted has done more than what was required to keep its fans happy and no doubt will continue to do so.
After 3 weeks it was sad to see the beta go but its done its job and now I’m even more excited for what November will bring.
What’d you think of the beta? Let us know in the comments!