On Tuesday, June 28th, Naughty Dog launched Uncharted 3’s Multiplayer Beta, and it’s turning out to have a lot of potential. Most of us, if not all PlayStation 3 gamers, own – or have at some point played – the award-winning Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It’s one of the PlayStation 3’s exclusive titles that really blows your mind, from outstanding gameplay to cinematic quality storytelling. It is a complete gaming experience.
Naughty Dog’s success from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has catapulted the studio to new heights within the gaming industry. They are ahead of the pack and have set the bar very high. The pressure must be bigger than ever at Naughty Dog, and from what we have seen at this years E3 and what we know so far, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is turning out to be even bigger than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. One thing is for sure – I really hope that with each IP that Naughty Dog releases for that bar to just keep getting higher and higher. They are an outstanding studio.
When you ask someone, “What is it about the Uncharted Series, that you really can’t get enough of?”, most people will say, “It’s all about the single-player experience.” With the release of Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog also introduced their first multiplayer mode, inside the Uncharted universe. Being their first attempt to bring that multiplayer experience to Uncharted fans, the overall experience was good, but it wasn’t great. It really didn’t grab a hold of me like other 3rd person shooters such as Socom 4 or Metal Gear Online, but that’s because it just didn’t have the qualities that make a mulitplayer experience really shine. It was a very casual multiplayer experience in which you go in, play for a few rounds and thats it. There wasn’t really a sense of depth in the overall experience. Uncharted did manage to get some multiplayer aspects just right. One of the best qualities of the Uncharted 2 multiplayer is the verticality of the gameplay – Uncharted 2 managed to get that right because combat isn’t just about being on the same eye level throughout the whole map. The options you have of climbing and getting to higher locations really entertained me. It made the combat more unpredictable, which made the game fun. Other great qualities are the overall map locations and some of the modes like Plunder.
I think that some of the most important aspects to a multiplayer game have to be a sense of variety and customization towards ones character and its weapon progression. Multiplayer games are not easy to develop, and it’s very challenging to create an addicting one at that. I guess, for me, not all games should have a multiplayer mode; it’s something that has become a silent rule when it comes to next-gen gaming. If developers want to incorporate a multiplayer mode with all of their new IPs, they need to know what makes a multiplayer mode addicting.
Let’s ask ourselves…”What are the things that really grab you on a multiplayer game?”
- #1 Customization: The sense of developing your character though XP or an In-Game Store is one of the best features that any online multiplayer game should have as default. The best game to have had such customizations? Metal Gear Online. Metal Gear Online offered players a chance to really customize their characters by earning reward points to spend at their online store. Points were earned by logging in daily, Matchmaking, and In-Game Tournaments which were held weekly at specific times. Such systems make the player log in, participate, and compete in order to earn those items. Earning items though XP is good and all, but once you hit that LV Cap, that’s it, there is no motivation to keep on playing because there are no more rewards. At some point we all end up with the same gear.
- #2 Weapon Progression and Variety: Some shooter games don’t need to have hundreds of guns in order to create a diverse gaming experience. Most of the time people end up with the same type of guns because it ends up being the most effect gun in multiplayer. The choices are left towards how well the In-Game hit detection mechanics work. Hit detection is and should be one of the top priorities in getting a shooter done right. The right balance should be enforced with all the types of weapons in the game. If it becomes a problem the developers need to cut back on variety and deliver performance with such limitations.
- #3 Maps: This is something that keeps the game fresh. Having a variety of maps within a certain time period should be something the developes need to understand. Most multiplayer games, by default, come with 6-8 different multiplayer maps, which is great at the beginning. However, as time progresses, the experience becomes stale. I personally think that developers should give players the tools to create user-generated maps. It has been done before. I know that not everyone has the talent to create a really good multiplayer map, but at least its something that keeps players developing new ideas and also expands the game’s life cycle on it own, alleviating the company’s pressure in creating new maps. I will point out that even though companies have a tendency to make cash out of their Map DLC, it would never generate as much as selling the game just by having a successful Map forge mode.
Uncharted 3 is going to come with a multiplayer mode, but this time around it’s turning to have the qualities of a successful one. Although it’s still in its beta, we can see some of the stong qualities that make multiplayer games fun and addicting. I can’t speak for the developing team at Naughty Dog on what the final outcome will be, but some are shaping out right. The character customization is way better that in Uncharted 2 in which we couldn’t even change any part of the look that characters had. That right there makes it more interesting. I’m hoping there will be a lot of variety in the items we have so we can have a sense of being unique. The weapons in the game are no different from any other uncharted game, but the addition of customizing your weapon is an improvement from Uncharted 2. The two maps that are currently available on the beta are the best part of this multiplayer. The addition of cinematic cut scenes that are integrated into the multiplayer experience makes it that much better. There are a lot of really good qualities that make Uncharted 3’s multiplayer fun. For example, the addition of Kill Streaks, Perks, and Boosters improves the game play. Teamwork is being implemented with a new Buddy System in which you get benefits from working with others. This makes it seem like it might just turn out to be a fun and successful multiplayer experience.
Only time will tell how much content will be added to the multiplayer experience that will either make it or break it. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception comes out November 1, 2011, so there is still plenty of time to work and add any components to improve the game.
If you still haven’t played Uncharted 3’s Multiplayer Beta, it is now available to all PS+ members and Voucher Code holders through PSN. An open beta will be available sometime this month.
- Impressions from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception’s open beta (arstechnica.com)