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LONG BLOG

Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta Impressions

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I'm an Uncharted 2 multiplayer vet, let's get that out of the way first. I know a lot of people come to this series for the really impressive single player campaign, and all the goodness contained therein. And I don't blame those people, but starting with UC2 the series began to include a pretty good multiplayer mode. The co-op stuff was alright, but I got into the competitive death match modes like nobody's business. I still have muscle memory built up around that game, so when Uncharted 3 rolled around I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to the minor differences introduced into the new physics and gameplay mechanics.

The result was that, generally, Uncharted 3 played a lot slower. It wasn't Gears of War, but it lost a lot of the snappy movement and reliance on jumping around to be an illusive target. It also did away with the arena-style weapon distribution by introducing a much more contemporary loadout system that let you pick your weapons before a match. Previously, everyone spawned in with the same weaponry and then had to hunt down alternatives at fixed locations on the map, much like Halo and other games that get their pedigree from older arena shooters. This did a lot to focus attention around areas of the map that spawned power weapons, like RPGs or grenade launchers. But starting with UC3, terrain advantage was king and spawn waves dictated the flow of conflict more than points of interest. Is this better or worse? I don't really know, it might not be to my personal liking. But I do know that Uncharted 4 has unsurprisingly continued the trend in its multiplayer mode.

Movement is still a lot slower than UC2 as the cover system tries to be a lot more dynamic in how it animates your character as he or she sticks to a wall or crouches behind cover. It's less obvious how and where your character will react when going for cover, but it's fair to say it works as expected most of the time. I've noticed a few instances where it seemed the terrain should be climbable, but only sort of was (?) with my character fumbling around the fancy level design for a handhold and not quite finding one. Needless to say, this leaves you pretty open in a 5-on-5 small deathmatch map.

The map design is serviceable, again stepping away from the older roots of a mirrored layout that gives the two teams identical spawning zones. Instead, the layout is more natural and asymmetric, usually with one highlight, be it a highground area or a choke point ripe for cross fire between the two teams. I couldn't spend enough time to get fully familiar with any of the maps, but I was able to read movements well enough that I could execute basic flanking maneuvers when I needed to. And while we're talking about gettin' around, a new addition that's supposed to aid in that is the grapple hook. At certain points, you can grapple hook across large gaps in the map. You can swing around as much as you like or immediately jump off to the other side, but either way you're left pretty vulnerable. The result is most people tend to avoid the grapple chasms, opting to shoot across them or find alternate paths. I think it breaks up the maps in clever ways, actually.

That grapple hook has a second function, by the way. And it's easily my favorite addition to the multiplayer. You can hold L1 to (somehow) charge your grapple hook to be thrown. But if you press Square when you've charged it, you'll do a one-hit-KO melee attack instead. It's really satisfying, honestly, and makes close encounters a lot more rewarding than they were in UC3. Since UC2, close range melee fights were nerfed a good deal. It used to be that two blind-fire pistol shots and a melee attack would down your opponent, making it a viable option to rush your opponent unawares or just put them in a panic even if they saw you coming. The charged melee attack is sort of a replacement for that tactic. You need to do a little twirl with your grapple hook, and it makes a distinct noise when done, but you can move at full speed and even vault over cover while charged.

Like in UC3, downed opponents aren't killed outright. They can crawl around and hope to be revived, get executed by an opponent, or hold Triangle to forfeit and respawn in about 5 seconds or less (depending on the spawn wave). Downed opponents also drop treasures and potentially other goodies that help you earn in-match money, which is then used to buy Purchasables like a power weapon, an AI controlled ally, or various other offensive and defensive tools. Grenades (and all other throwable equipment items) replenish on their own, noted by a initially jarring sound that comes from your controller. They normally take about 20 seconds for a single item to replenish, but through loadout Perks and in-match Purchasables, you can gain them more quickly. It's all pretty slick and I think it goes a good way toward making the multiplayer more contemporary without sacrificing what made it unique in the original UC2 version.

The loadout system is more robust, which is nice. It was pretty bare-bones in UC3. You now have a pool of 25 Loadout Points (LP) that you can spend to customize what you enter the fight with. It's not fully free-form, of course, since you can only bring in one sidearm and one long gun and you can't, to my knowledge, double up on either of those. Then you have slots for your in-match Purchasables and your passive Perks. These last two don't have restrictions that I could see. So you can spend the remainder of your points on Purchasables (like power weapons, AI allies, or weird magical attacking totem poles) and Perks (like having more health when downed, better defensive bonus when in cover, etc.), although you will still need to meet the level requirement to access more items in these categories. Each item is weighted with a certain LP value and a level lock-out, so for the most part you'll be constructing pretty normal loudouts when you begin playing, or else relying on the pre-sets to just jump in.

I can't go too deep into the weapon selection, unfortunately, as I haven't spent enough time to unlock most of it. What's easily earned, however, is pretty good but also very standard. You've got some wacky magical spells at your disposal, but I didn't toy around with those a whole bunch. There's some new throwables, like remote mines and proximity mines, healing grenades (videogames!), and utility items that can give minimap awareness. Players are characteristically bullet spongy, as they have been in past UC multiplayer modes but that never really bothered me and I'm glad this has remained a sort of constant throughout the series.

Other than that, I'm not sure how worth it is to dive too much deeper into this beta. I'm sure a lot of it is liable to change, get rebalanced and the like. So far, I'm taking to it better than I did UC3's multiplayer, which I felt made it feel a lot more generic. But hey, if I want UC2's multiplayer, I can still go back to that for now, people still play that! 

I know, right?

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About Dr Melone of us since 10:58 PM on 01.31.2012

Hello, curious browser. I've been a reader of Dtoid for several years now and continue to enjoy the unique sense of community around these parts. I think I'll stick around, if ya don't mind.