Thanks to a strange deal between Sony and Subway, I got a chance this week to try out the multiplayer for Uncharted 3 before its eventual release in November. What greeted me was largely the same fun I had had in the beta. So if you’d like a general rundown on the multiplayer you should look up my previous write up on the beta. For this preview I’d like to focus on the differences I saw between the beta and this multiplayer demo/trial.
The trial comes with both more and less than the beta. Whereas the beta had both competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, this latest incarnation only has the former. Luckily, what is there is more fleshed than it was in the beta. First and foremost a handful of new maps have been added to the mix.
The underground map is one such new map, and has a similar feel to The Sanctuary from Uncharted 2, with clear sides where each team would start, and a large area in the middle with multiple levels to play around in. Since it’s actually a subway, there are also trains which could do with being signalled earlier; I swear I only heard the horn about a second before my life was snuffed out by a blur of metal.
Next up there is Syria, which was a map used for co-op in the beta but which has a competitive multiplayer variant in the Subway demo. Not a lot can be said about this map except that it takes place at night, which helps give it a unique feel nestled amongst the other Middle Eastern-based maps.
The last new map I noticed was The Dessert Village (speak of the devil), which feels pretty average until a sandstorm kicks up and brings your visibility down, such that you can only see about 3 metres in front of you.
Other obvious changes include new characters to play as, such as the villains you may have spotted in trailers for the game. Ever wanted to play as a 50 year old woman and teach all those 13 year old kids on PSN some manners? Well, now is your chance my friend. My personal favorite character is a henchman in a tuxedo. Speaking of clothing, the demo doesn’t allow you to change the clothing on any of the established characters, but you could in the beta, so presumably this is just locked until the game’s release. I also noticed that there were fewer treasure sets available than there were in the beta, so there's a good amount of multiplayer content being held back behind the curtains.
There are some Subway-specific prizes you can obtain, including some shirts with your personal logo on them and a hilarious '5 dollar foot long' taunt, both of which are unlikely to make appearances in the full game. The shirts can be obtained by collecting treasure during matches, just as you could in the beta, but the five dollar foot long taunt requires that you buy yourself another 30 oz. drink from Subway. It’s unfortunate in a way that these won’t remain in the full game because I actually like the weird dichotomy of picking up a Incan Devil Mask (I made that up) right before a Subway Shirt Badge (didn’t make up that one).
Lastly, I noticed some minor gameplay alterations which are probably the most important thing for the Uncharted Multiplayer Faithful (or UMF) out there. First off, the turrets now have a substantial kick to them, so you can’t mow people down quite as easily as you could before. This is a godsend because The Chateau in particular was always a race to see who could get to a turret first and mow down the other team in the beta. Hardcore mode seems to have had a health increase, which I don’t recall being in the beta - enemies take quite a lot more lead before going down, such that running and shooting from the hip until you get up to melee range becomes a much more viable option, which I’m sure will irritate some. Hopefully the full game allows you the choice of hardcore mode with or without this health increase. Team Objective has a couple more objectives that it switches between, including King of the Hill and Multimarked Man (which gives both teams a key target team member to both kill and protect).
The audio has been significantly improved and guns have a much more realistic sound to them. This is especially true of the AK47 and the Bolt Action Sniper Rifle, the latter of which gives off a thunderous boom whenever you fire it.
On the whole I’m really looking forward to seeing what else the team at Naughty Dog has waiting for us in the multiplayer segment of Uncharted 3, particularly when it comes to the cooperative modes. Hopefully there is much more to come.