As it prepares to say goodbye to the series, Naughty Dog launches Uncharted 4’s multiplayer beta. First impressions are very good, says Johnny Cullen.
How do you follow up The Last of Us, one of the greatest games of all time? Better yet, how do you follow up the criminally underrated multiplayer within The Last of Us? It’s simple: go guns blazing. And bring in a little magic.
“It’s just about over-the-top silly action and shooting people in the face. No fuss, no muss.”
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s multiplayer beta kicked off in earnest last night, exclusively for owners of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. After spending a few hours with the beta it’s already clear that if this simple taste – featuring Team Deathmatch as the only mode – is anything like the full version come March, I may be spending a lot more time with this. Moreso than any Uncharted multiplayer I have previously played in the series since it first introduced multiplayer in 2009.
Whereas The Last of Us’ multiplayer was about tying in a side-story of survival between the Fireflies and Hunters over a 12-week period, Uncharted has no such pretensions. It’s just about over-the-top silly action and shooting people in the face. No fuss, no muss. UC4 does, however, up the ante.
As you boot up the beta for the first time, you’re taken into a tutorial to introduce some of the newer mechanics for the game, including the grappling rope mechanic – shown off for the first time in the game’s first demo last year – before teaching you the new boosts system introduced recently at Paris Games Week.
During matches, you’ll have a choice of four core boosts: powerful weapons (grenade launchers, light machine guns, RPGs), gear (revival packs, mines, grenades), mysticals (Wrath of El Dorado is a throwable item that can take down a group of nearby enemies by, for the lack of a better term, mythic spectres, while the Cintamani Stone revives your downed allies) and even an AI-controlled buddy that specialises in various classes: heavy, sniper, hunter or a medic. They only stay with one specialty until they die, however, rather than an assortment of the above.
In order to use those boosts, you need to collect money throughout your matches. Little bits trickle in as the match progresses, but you earn more by doing the obvious; killing enemies, KO’ing them once they’re down, reviving allies, making assists – you get the picture. One surefire way I found to collect more money that no-one else I saw was by picking up diamonds scattered around the two maps.
Those diamonds are worth up to $200 and the more money you get during the match, the better your chances of using the more expensive boosts. Depending on the loadout you choose, you will get a variety of boosts given to you. Using those AI buddies will also help you bring in more money to use on more boosts, which is worth bearing in mind.
The mystical boosts don’t feel out of place at all, and won’t give the player too much in the way of super powers. The lore around them from past games is present but toned down: the Cintamani Stone helps revive allies, similar to how in Uncharted 2’s story the relic is the key to giving immortal life for whoever posses it.
Uncharted 4’s multiplayer runs at 60FPS and it makes a lot of difference in that from a gameplay perspective than just graphically (and holy crap, does UC4 look good). It feels a lot more responsive to play than it was back in the 30FPS days of Uncharted 2 and 3.
Traversing and climbing has been tightened up, with the grappling rope mechanic helping getting around maps a lot easier. Gunplay also feels more responsive than the past three games. If there’s one complaint I have about the game’s combat, it’s that hand-to-hand close quarter brawls feel a little too stiff right now.
But from playing a few hours of the beta, Uncharted 4’s multiplayer is clearly a hell of a lot of fun. I can honestly see myself staying with it post-launch a lot more than I have previously with past Uncharted games.
Naughty Dog has said this will be its last Uncharted game that it develops. And while the developer will want to give Nathan Drake and company the story they deserve after nearly a decade, it looks like it’s aiming to go out all-guns blazing with the multiplayer too.
Right now, as far as tasters go, this gives a really, really good first impression.