If you own a PS4 then May 17th is a day you should be looking forward to. That is the day the twice delay Uncharted 4 from Naughty Dog is set to be released. Since the release of the original Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune in 2007, the series has been Sony’s flagship franchise and on May 17th the final entry (for the foreseeable future) in the series will be released. For those who have not played an Uncharted game before the games are a masterclass in single player storytelling, spectacle, and character development. They are extremely cinematic and depict some of the most beautiful and exotic locations you’ll find in video games. Playing through anyone of the three main entries feels like playing through an Indiana Jones movie and the tone of the game perfectly matches the humor, suspend, and action of the the Indiana Jones movies. The games’ protagonist, Nathan Drake, is equal parts Archaeologist and Treasure Hunter and he and his cast of friends are extremely well acted and likable. If there is one issue I take with the series it is with its combat. Compared to many third person action games Uncharted has always felt a bit too floaty and controlling Drake never feels as tight and good as it should. The cover based combat is nothing to write home about and the shooting a bit too loose and inaccurate in my opinion.
I am not alone in this opinion, even ravenous fans of Uncharted will admit that as a third person shooter it is nothing special, despite this fact, Naughty Dog has found it appropriate to include competitive multiplayer consisting of only combat in the Uncharted franchise since the second game in the series. Uncharted 2 and 3’s multiplayer was serviceable at best, it got the job done but there were always plenty of competitive online shooters that did it better; needless to say I walked into the Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta a little skeptical. Yet after a few games I found myself thoroughly enjoying it.
My first match felt exactly like I remember Uncharted multiplayer feeling and for better or worse the experience has not dramatically changed; the controls and shooting are still not as tight as I would like them to be. Despite these issues I eventually grew accustomed to the controls and performed much better as a result.
Team Deathmatch was the only available game mode but I found Naughty Dog’s spin on it to be refreshing. In most games your score in Team Deathmatch is predicated on the number of kills you earned, Uncharted 4’s scoring system is entirely dependent on the in game cash you earned in any given match and killing someone is only one way to earn cash. Players are given monetary rewards for doing nearly anything in the game including downing an enemy (they can still be revived by a teammate at this point), KOing an enemy, getting an assist, and best of all by finding treasures throughout the map. I personally love the inclusion of the treasures (each one is worth $200 while downing an opponent is $100) as it means even people who don’t have the fastest reflexes can still earn money. Earning money is important not just for your final ranking but for the in game rewards you can buy with it. Depending on your class loadout you have access to unique gear, sidekicks, and even mystical powers that aid you in combat. Having trouble getting kills with your standard issue AK-47? Just run around the map grabbing a few treasures and you’ll quickly earn enough money to purchase an RPG, grenade launcher, or mystical totem that send enemy seeking spectral ghosts towards your opponents. This ensures that everyone on your team can effectively contribute regardless of their fast-twitch abilities.
The beta was relatively limited in terms of maps and customization options but what I played was promising. The maps all feel distinctly “Uncharted” and had a good mix of long range, close quarters, and verticality that ensured that no one class, loadout or weapon felt too overpowered. When it comes to the in game purchases I believe there needs to be a bit of balancing done before launch. Buying an RPG with only one shot costs $800 while the aforementioned totem only cost $650, in my experience the RPG was not very effective while a well placed totem frequently netted me multiple kills and hundred of dollars. Naughty Dog does have the right idea in that they make every subsequent use of a certain power/weapon more expensive but for now the initial prices need to be adjusted for lethality and effectiveness in combat.
There appeared to be plenty of skins, accessories, and emotes available to earn with in game currency as well as daily in game challenges that, once met, reward the player with more in game currency. I would personally love to see more of a reward/ranking system at play here that would provide incentive to play more and rank up. Part of what makes a game like Call of Duty so addictive is the constant unlocking of new items and objects that let you display your prowess. The final game may in fact include a mechanic like this but as far as the beta is concerned it was unavailable.
Each team is made up of five players with one team assuming the role of the heroes of the franchise and one taking up the mantle of the series’ villains. Each side has five characters to choose from, the decision is entirely aesthetic as any character can be assigned any premade or custom loadout/class. Because the chose is purely aesthetic I would have liked to see Naughty Dog restrict the use of each character to one per team. That is to say, if I am playing on the villainous team I would prefer to see only one Nathan Drake on the other team rather than three or four. The games I played in which there was a variation of enemy characters were far more engaging and exciting as I would I could remember the skill level of a particular player playing with a particular skin and make in game decisions about how to engage them based on how well they were playing.
Like I said at the beginning, Uncharted as always been first and foremost a single player game that has had multiplayer tacked onto it. While the appeal of the game is still far and away its single player campaign and the end of Nathan Drake’s story I am happy to say that based on what little of the multiplayer was made available that it does not feel tacked on but rather well thought-out and quite fun. Will I play it for more than a few hours? That depends on what other game modes are made available and whether or not Naughty Dog balances the powers and provides a satisfying and addiction gameplay loop.