Uncharted 3 Beta Synopsis

The Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta is out, and it runs from July 2nd(or June 28th for lucky early-access people) to July 14th. While it’s not the final product, it’s shaping up to be a pretty good online experience. Like the first two, it blends third-person cover-based shooting with heavy platforming elements. And like the first two, it makes moving around maps and getting the jump on enemies just a complete joy. The game also breaks free from the monotony of cover-based shooting, since you’re moving around a lot more thanks to the level design. 

Featured in the beta are two maps and five game-modes. The maps, Chateau and Airstrip, are well built, visually distinct, and fun to play on. Chateau is centered around a destroyed mansion in the middle of the Jungle, and provides plenty of opportunities to get around enemies. Airstrip is the more interesting map of the two. It starts with one team(hero’s) on a plane, and the other(villains) in trucks trying to board said plane. It keeps the action moving and interesting, and it’s one hell of a fun time. Sadly it’s just a short part of the overall map, and after about 3 minutes or so the plane takes off and you head into a normal, static multiplayer map.

The gameplay is still solid though, and the maps are big and complex enough that it’s doubtful that you’ll be staying in one place for long. And though some interesting map-related things do happen, like the middle of the mansion in Chateau caving in and the occasional fighter-plane dive-bomb on Airstrip, they’re just not as fun as truck-hopping to a plane. The five game-modes are your standard multiplayer fare. Team Deathmatch, Team Objective, Plunder, which is essentially capture the flag, hardcore, which is Team Deathmatch but without gameplay modifiers, and co-op where three humans have to fight off waves of enemies while completing objectives. Throughout these game modes, or most of them at least, when a team is losing pretty badly a power play will kick in. Power plays give a slight advantage to the losing team. So far I’ve only seen 3, attack the target, which basically marks a player as a special target that gives more points when killed. Exposed, which exposes the winning team. And double damage, which… is pretty self explanatory. It all does a decent job of giving the losing team a chance at catching up, and keeps the winning team on their toes. Along with all this, we can see that character customization has been expanded upon.

Go around!

Well, kind of. In the beta the offerings are pretty limited, but if you use your Imagination!, you can imagine more stuff to unlock. I’m sure the full game will have more things. Hopefully. Anyway, you have 4 characters to choose from, 3 on heroes and 1 on villains. For heroes you can choose between the main characters of the story, Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, or some guy named Treasure Hunter, kind of odd name for a person but whatever. The offerings to change Drake and Sully are very limited, but Treasure Hunter gets a bit more clothes to choose from. On the villains side you have Pirate, which is again an odd name for an adult, but I digress. Pirate gets a lot more stuff to choose from than any of the heroes, which is kind of neat, though almost all you have to unlock, so that’s lame. You unlock clothes by collecting random treasures that randomly pop up when you randomly kill people. Yeah, it’s as annoying as you think. Unless you like all that randomness, in which case you’ll love it, I guess. Hopefully in the final game unlocking stuff will require more specific specifications, but as it stands now, it’s annoying. Apart from playing dress-up without much clothing options (or dresses for that matter… Naughty Dog, get on that!), you can also choose an emblem for yourself. Nothing too special here, but one neat thing is that if your doing well in a match, your emblem starts appearing all over the map your on. Yeah it’s a small feature, but I love stuff like this. It’s a nice ego boost to see your emblem appear all over the place.

Uncharted 3 also introduces loadouts. Nothing you haven’t seen here. You pick what weapons and boosters(think perks) to spawn with. Nothing too special, and the perks don’t really do much to drastically change the gameplay. Which is good thing. You can also choose a kickback, which is essentially a killstreak. Get a certain amount of medals, and press up on the D-pad to activate it. These can be as simple as spawning a rocket launcher or causing you grenades to split into more grenades, or more fantastical like kicking up a smoke-screen and teleporting away, or turning into a swarm of spiders. Or that’s what it says, at least. It isn’t available to players in the beta, instead it sits there. Mocking us, mocking me.

Ah... if only...

Anyway, another feature in the beta is a cinema mode. This little tool lets you watch past games. With it, you can record clips and take screenshots. Or you could, if it wasn’t broken. You can still view games and stuff, but don’t expect to record video or take screenshots. From what I see, screenshots aren’t supported in the beta, unless I missed something, in which case sorry for being stupid, and when you record a video clip and try to edit it, the game turns all of the visual effects to their lowest points which results in a pitch black screen. So yeah, that’s cinema mode at the moment.

All in all, the beta is more or less a slightly improved version of Uncharted 2’s multi-player. The cover-based combat with strong platforming elements are still there, which is nice and helps to keep the game from falling too far into boring territory. The gameplay modifiers, boosters, kickbacks, and power-plays help keep games interesting. The maps are well designed and fun to play on and look at. Overall, and despite my sarcastic remarks, it’s shaping up to be a good experience. Though despite great platforming, it still tends to devolve into your standard TPS cover-based gameplay every now and then. You know, sit in cover, shoot other person’s head, repeat. Hopefully more maps are like the first part of Airstrip, since that would definitely make things a lot more interesting than they already are and show what the game can really do.

Still, the beta lasts until July 14th, so if you have a PS3 and want to check it out, go for it. I’d say it’s definitally worth the time.

Hell, if anything do it just do it for this moment. It's totally worth it.