At first, I was a little distraught by the Uncharted 3 beta. For some reasons, the visuals just didn’t look quite as good as Uncharted 2 to me. Something about the character models just seemed…unpolished. At this point I’ve worked through it and accepted that this is, in fact, a beta. Also, judging by Naughty Dog and the Uncharted franchises’ history I’m sure there’s nothing to be worried about as far as visuals go.
That’s not to say the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta looks bad. It’s still colorful and detailed with high-quality textures. The animation is still top notch. The largest visual issue is probably just the texture pop-in on character models, which could be part of what initially irked me. Regardless, I don’t want to spend this whole thing talking about graphics, so let’s move on.
The beta comes with several modes, including Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, 3 –Team (2v2v2) Deathmatch, Hardcore and others, complimented by some cooperative stuff. 3-Team Deathmatch can be pretty fun, especially if you’re taking advantage of the multiple PSN-login split-screen mode. In fact, the whole “buddy system” that the game employs is a great addition.
The buddy system matches you up with a random teammate (always your on-couch partner if you’re playing split-screen, I believe) and allows you to spawn on that person after you die. Also, if the two of you contribute to the same kill, you can go stand on the corpse of your defeated enemy and high-five for extra cash. This can be pretty amusing if you’re both playing as the same character.
The perk system from Uncharted 2 remains intact and functions the same way: you unlock perks (called “boosters”) as you level and purchase the ones you want with cash. The problem I ran into is that when you get matched up with higher-level players the game can become pretty one-sided. Some of the perks are kind of ridiculous, for example there’s one that reduces your spawn timer after dying. Thankfully, Naughty Dog created Hardcore mode.
Hardcore mode is the same basic team deathmatch only without the perks and other abilities. You still get to keep your weapons and whatever mods you have on them, but no one will have the advantage of crazy perks or the ability to spawn their own RPG or anything like that. It’s easily my favorite mode and I wish we had gotten it back in Uncharted 2 (remember that perk where people could see through walls? Yikes).
You may have noticed that I mentioned weapon mods. Rather than everyone starting with the AK this time, you can create your own preset loadouts from the basic Uncharted weapons. The AK this time around seems to have a much slower rate of fire which is kind of annoying. Uncharted 2’s burst-fire FAL has been replaced by the GMAL, which is essentially the exact same thing. The Dragon sniper rifle also returns, along with various pistols/machine pistols. My problem with the weapons is that they don’t seem very good right out of the gate, probably because they’re meant to be upgraded. Like I mentioned, the AK rate of fire seems too low and also the GMAL seems to run out of ammo faster than the FAL did. By now I’ve adapted to the new weapons so it’s kind of a non-issue, but it can be a bit jarring at first. It’s definitely nice that your mods actually show up on the weapon model.
In addition to weapon mods and perks and modes, there’s also now character customization. For now, what you can put on your dudes seems pretty limited (as are the color choices) but I’m sure it will be vastly expanded when the game comes out. You unlock new clothing options by finding treasures in multiplayer which will sometimes fall from other players you’ve just killed. It seems kind of random, so I wonder how hard it will be to unlock, say, some specific accessory that you want to tack onto Sully or Drake or whoever.
That about sums it up. The game feels the same as Uncharted 2 and the maps are solid. The Chateau is an excellent map and the Airfield is decent enough. Like Uncharted 2, I could see this being a multiplayer worth sinking several afternoons into, especially after the game gets that final layer of polish.