Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s multiplayer picks right where Uncharted 2: Among Thieves’ and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception’s left off—by offering a fast-paced third-person shooter experience replete with swift platforming mechanics.
Naughty Dog released a beta for its upcoming PlayStation 4 title that only lasted until the 13th of December. The beta features only two maps which take place in a jungle area and a sunny city, both of which we’ve seen in Uncharted 4’s two public demos so far. The first thing I noticed was the heavy reliance on platforming and using your new rope to swing from place to place. The level design invites verticality and I found myself doing a lot of jumping and hanging from walls while shooting people. It’s the biggest gameplay aspect that separates Uncharted’s online gameplay from every other multiplayer shooter. You’d be hard-pressed to play an online match in which you can knock somebody by jumping and using your rope, Tarzan-style.
Though I do still think there are a few improvements to be made in terms of how quickly you can climb structures and walls, and some of the rope animations feel a bit sluggish. I’ve accidentally committed suicide a few times while playing only because I’ve missed a few jumps using my rope. The two maps are relatively small, which is a great thing as this design choice invites a lot of chaotic and intimate shootouts. You won’t go 20 seconds before engaging in a firefight with people. Plus, the small maps complement the 5 v 5 matchups. No, this isn’t Battlefront nor Black Ops III, as these games house dozens of players in a single match. Uncharted 4’s much smaller scale is a huge reason why I love its multiplayer so much. It feels like a different and fresh experience.
The new additions here come in the varied customization options you have. This time around you can summon mysticals that reference the original Uncharted trilogy. For example, the Wrath of El Dorado mystical is a totem you can summon which launches spectres that seek out, damage, and kill enemies. The Cintamani Stone revives downed allies, and the Spirit of the Djinn renders you invisible at times and allows you to move at a quick speed. There are only five mysticals in the beta, but I’m sure we’ll be getting more when the final game releases this coming March.
Alongside the mysticals you can also call companions, and they each impact the battlefield in different ways. The Brute sidekick is a hulking giant that sprays enemies with a light machine gun while the Savior sidekick acts as a medic, supplying your team with ammo and reviving them when they’re downed. At first I felt that both the sidekicks and mysticals might be adding a bit too much in these small matches, but the more I played, the more I realized just how balanced they actually are. You always have a chance to summon a sidekick or mystical in a match, even if you’re doing poorly.
Alongside these two major additions, you can equip different gear like grenades or mines, boosters that can decrease your damage wobble or help you revive fallen teammates faster, and powerful, heavy weapons like rocket launchers. The way you can gain these weapons and summoning mysticals or sidekicks is by spending cash. Cash is earned from collecting treasures littered throughout the map and killing your opponents. The whole process feels smooth and quick as you can buy your summons and gear through a simple menu you access by pressing the DualShock 4’s gamepad.
There’s a healthy variety of weapons you can use and experiment with in this beta, but I'm expecting a lot more unlockables and an overall bigger wealth of customization options in the final game. The same goes for the characters you can play as—Drake, Sully, Elena, Lazarevic, Flynn, Marlowe, etc.—there’s plenty more for Naughty Dog to include, especially characters from the first game. The actual gunplay also feels fun, as you’d expect, and the whole thing plays similarly to the past three Uncharted games.
Overall, the beta is everything I expected from an Uncharted online experience, and more. This feels like a natural evolution of the series’ multiplayer offerings—a worthwhile next big step that will most likely be a great addition to Uncharted 4’s single-player campaign.