Uncharted 4 recently had an open weekend for its multiplayer mode, so everyone could play it before the game comes out in May, regardless of whether they’ve pre-ordered it or have PlayStation+.
I must admit, right here at the start, that I am not really a big online multiplayer guy. There are only two games I’ve ever got really into the multiplayer of and that’s Resistance 2 and The Last Of Us. I did play the multiplayer in both Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3, but I just found it didn’t grab my interest enough and I stopped after a few hours. The Last Of Us however wouldn’t let me go, I played that multiplayer for months.
So, no surprise then, I was pretty excited to see what the multiplayer in Uncharted 4 was like! What had Naughty Dog carried over from The Last Of Us and what have they added? The short answers, you’ll be glad to read, are all the good bits!
Uncharted 4‘s multiplayer is brilliant fun. The controls are easily picked up by anyone who has played the games before. It has a much faster pace than the story modes of Uncharted, which is to be expected really given the human opponents. Story characters are here in force though, marking a change from the bland avatars of The Last Of Us. In the open weekend you could pick five characters to play as, depending on your team.
If you were in the Heroes team your choice was Nathan ‘Nate’ Drake (main character), Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan (best friend/mentor), Elena Fisher (Nates wife), Sam (Nates estranged brother) and Charlie Cutter (sidekick in Uncharted 3). There are some pretty big characters missing from this, like Chloe from the second and third games, but I imagine there will be more in the full game. That being said even if there are more hero characters when the full game launches, I suspect seeing 3 Nathan Drakes on a team will not be a usual sight.
If you are on the Villains team your choices are Zoran Lazarevic (Uncharted 2 villain), Knot (Uncharted 4 villain), Orca (Uncharted 4 villain), Harry Flynn (Uncharted 2 backstabber/villain) and Katherine Marlowe (Uncharted 3 villain). Again some characters that I remember aren’t here (Atoq Navarro from Uncharted 1 anyone?), which for the this team surprises me as it has two Uncharted 4 reps who we obviously don’t know yet.
One thing that has been carried over from The Last Of Us is the shop mechanic. In The Last Of Us you got money for doing certain things, killing an enemy or saving a teammate for example. You could then use this money in the middle of the game to purchase a bomb or a trap or even buying some armour or a heavy weapon. This returns in Uncharted 4 though it’s been changed up a bit, in The Last Of Us it was a slow process where you went through a shop menu. Uncharted 4 makes it a lot faster, for more spur of the moment purchasing. Simply press the touchpad and then each of the four directional buttons purchases something.
There’s a lot of things up for sale in the shop, though you are limited to only four options that change depending on what class you pick. All of the abilities that I saw over the weekend are very cool, both in effect and in visuals. One of these abilities is the Wrath of El Dorado, which is a throwable weapon that causes the El Dorado statue from Uncharted 1 to appear and start sending out homing smoke balls towards enemies which inflict damage. It can be very useful when enemies crowd around.
The other big thing is sidekicks. You can purchase a variety of sidekicks in the game that are AI controlled bonus team members. Once they die they’re gone for good, but they can be very useful. There is a saviour who heals downed teammates at any cost, a sniper who will stay where you place him and take any shots he can, a hunter who runs towards enemies and grabs them giving you an easy shot, and, finally, a brute sidekick that is a heavily armoured mini-gun carrying soldier who is very useful at leading a charge or covering a retreat.
These items are a fantastic twist to the multiplayer because it keeps you on your toes as you never know how quickly a situation might turn. Sure, you might have an enemy cornered in a building, but what if he can buy the Wrath of El Dorado? Overconfidence can kill very easily in Uncharted 4. The only game mode open for the weekend was Team Deathmatch where the first team to get 35 kills wins. However, if the full game includes a mode like The Last Of Us’ where there is no respawning I can see the abilities and sidekicks being even more important to victory.
The game does feel built around playing as a team – those who run off on their own will face some serious difficulties. Much like The Last Of Us the safest way to travel around the map is by sticking close to your teammates, always making sure someone has you covered. There is less risk in this strategy now as well, as Uncharted 4 doesn’t have traps like The Last Of Us which could take down a team of four with no enemies in sight,
The other big gameplay addition is the grappling hook, which allows you to swing over large gaps quickly, Indiana Jones-style. It’s a lovely addition to the game as it solves a problem I had with the multiplayer in Uncharted before. Crossing a gap usually meant climbing down, around, and then back up the other side of the gap which was very slow. Being able to swing around now makes you feel much more involved in the game more often. They can also be used offensively as I learned when I saw someone swing back and forth while shooting for a good 30 seconds before a well-placed sniper bullet brought him down to earth.
Back when Naughty Dog first did online multiplayer with Uncharted 2, there was a lot of people who were saying it would be a tacked on mode only there to fill space on the back of the box. While this wasn’t entirely true, the multiplayer here makes it look like it was. The effort that has gone in is impressive, with not only characters but maps from past games returning as well. The open weekend has three maps, one from each of the previous Uncharted games (ignoring the Vita spinoff Golden Abyss).
Naughty Dog do a great job of making the multiplayer feel like an extension of the main game, between the themed power-ups and the maps based on old locations. The weapons feel weighty and pack a punch when you fire them, the sound for melee is solid and the overall musical tone is great. There are nice little touches like your characters saying things when you do something, like Zoran saying “I will unleash myself upon you” when he respawns. It gives the multiplayer slightly more character than the simple cycle of spawn-shoot-die over and over again.
I had brilliant fun with this open weekend. It’s fun and it’s fast and the main thing I find myself wanting is some kind of progression. In The Last Of Us the multiplayer had a story to give it a form of narrative progression. You were the leader of a group of survivors and you need to get enough resources to keep them all healthy, which you did by playing well. It was a fantastic system that I really got into. I really hope Uncharted has either a system like this or a good leveling system that feels rewarding beyond getting a few different hats as you go along.
Provided the game does offer more variety in terms of characters and hopefully has an interesting progression mechanic, I could easily see this being the third multiplayer game I really get into when the game releases on May 10.