Uncharted 4's Multiplayer Has Plenty Going On, But It Doesn't Have An Identity

Over the years I've spent in this industry I've learnt that the best two emotions to have, when dealing with video games, are anger or unreserved love. It's where much of the best writing comes from, where a lot of great analysis starts and either end of the spectrum is a deep and powerful source of creative energy. You don't have to stay on that side of the spectrum with every piece you write -- and articles can flip from one to the other, always be an interesting journey for readers and writers -- but it's an excellent starting point.

Conversely, the worst emotion to have when previewing a product is none at all: total apathy.

What purpose does multiplayer Uncharted serve?

It seems like a heartless, almost cruel, question to pose. Naughty Dog, after all, are considered masters of their craft and deservedly so. The accolades given out to The Last of Us are a mark of that, but perhaps a better indication of its excellence can be found in the surprised tones with which people discuss the game's multiplayer.

All of the supplied assets are at 900p, the same resolution that Uncharted 4's multiplayer runs in

There was a lot that caught the sceptical gaming public unawares: the slow, almost old school-esque pace; the clever 12 week-long factions system that borrowed from the spirit of its own narrative and games like State of Decay; Supply Raid, which functioned like a more honest version of Call of Duty's Kill Confirmed; and the competence with which crafting was interweaved throughout.

Factions -- the term for TLOU's multiplayer -- was far, far better than it had any right to be.

And there's no reason to truly suspect that Uncharted 4 won't adopt some, if not all, of its measures. Team Deathmatch, for instance, adopts many of the systems found in TLOU's Supply Raid. The scoreboard is laid out almost identically, except it's extended to include cash and assists (with KO's replacing executions).

Kills don't count unless someone is actually KO'd; players can revive their downed friends by holding down the triangle button. Cash is earned over the course of the round that can be used to purchase upgrades and perks over the course of a match, which functions as Uncharted's replacement for TLOU's crafting system.

All in all, it's pretty straightforward.

In a way, it's what you would expect Team Deathmatch to look like in 2015. In many ways, when you take the loadout system, the inclusion of Mystical items that can have impacts across the entire battlefield -- or at least the nearby territory that you can immediately influence -- it's Call of Duty crossed with Uncharted.

It takes three hits to melee a character from full health to a downed state

The 5v5 mode even reminds me of my time in competitive Modern Warfare 2. Naughty Dog has certainly taken cues from the mega military shooter franchise by giving players lots of toys to flesh their loadouts with. Primary and secondary weapons are customisable -- although many will be locked initially -- along with two other categories, Purchasable items and Boosters.

Purchasables are broken into four sections. Mysticals, special power-ups activated by pressing the L1 + R1 buttons that offer a variety of offensive or defensive traits ranging from improved movement speed to a mass revival of all your teammates. Gear is fairly simple, offering the usual fare of frag grenades, proximity mines and so on, while Heavy Weapons provides a variety of high-powered explosives and rifles.

Sidekicks are the other trick in this hand of cards, with players able to summon an NPC for 60 seconds that will follow them around the battlefield. The sidekicks' AI is fairly unspectacular and they will always favour being in close proximity to their owner rather than the needs of the situation around them, meaning that they're happy to run backwards through enemy fire if it means crouching behind cover to the player who summoned them.

You won't get access to most of this from the off, though: it's only accessible by earning money in-game. Rewatching available online footage confirms you can access the store while you're alive, although if you can't work it out initially (like yours truly) the store will pop up in between deaths and you can buy items that way.

The higher frame rate of the multiplayer makes an appreciable difference, unsurprisingly

And despite my initial and lasting apathy for what remains a fairly straight take on Team Deathmatch, it's not as if there isn't fun to be had. There's a special satisfaction in Elena taking a boot to Drake's throat, although the animation remained the same each time.

And as nice as the animations are, it doesn't get past the classic problem Uncharted multiplayer has: the constant rolling. The circle key is like Uncharted's equivalent of crouchbobbing, a way to move in and any all situations just to screw with people's capacity to aim. It's completely fine, of course, and I have no complaints against it as a regular traversal mechanic.

But by God, does it look dumb. You've effectively got a multiplayer mode where 12 people are engaged in rolling, crawling or kicking people who are either rolling or crawling at any given moment. Visually, it's patently absurd.

And let's not mention the Mystical item that gives you an orange-coloured burst of speed that looks like it was ripped straight from inFAMOUS Second Son.

Players will recognise some of the Mysticals and power-ups from previous Uncharted games

But these elements aren't objectionable in principle. They're silly in isolation, but perfectly functional.

And that's perhaps the best description of my experience with Uncharted 4's Team Deathmatch, and the foundation for my apathy. Rewatching footage recorded from the preview session, all I see is what appears to be a functional, flowing, but not fascinating experience. It's much faster than what I remember from TLOU, and not wholly different from what people enjoyed in Uncharted 3.

It works, for lack of a better word. It's just not special; it just doesn't feel like Naughty Dog. And that makes me wonder once more: what precisely do they want to accomplish with the multiplayer?

Hopefully we'll find out when the other modes are announced. But for now, enjoy the beta. Everyone undoubtedly will. It just won't be what keeps you around. That's what the story's for.


Comments

    I loathe killstreaks, they are rarely anything more than incentive to be a douche/camp

    Its how I felt with Uncharted 2's MP: yes it works, but it's not doing anything for me. I only did it for the achievements and then never again. Really got this sense of "why does this exist?"

    I hope you can still play as a helghast trooper in the multiplayer, that was the coolest skin in Uncharted 2!

    While I've never had a particular attachment to Uncharteds Multiplayer (Or most multiplayers TBH) there is a group of people who do find the Uncharted multiplayer (And other 'less compelling' multiplayer's like Gears or The Last of Us) to be refreshing/ compelling, to the point where those games, while myself and others don't 'get' it, still have more servers than some of the more washed up FPS's that didn't hit that niche.

    Guess it exists for them, which is fine. I'll give the Beta a go, maybe with the relics and artifacts it'll win me over this time :P

    Over the years I’ve spent in this industry I’ve learnt that the best two emotions to have, when dealing with video games, are anger or unreserved love. It’s where much of the best writing comes from, where a lot of great analysis starts and either end of the spectrum is a deep and powerful source of creative energy. You don’t have to stay on that side of the spectrum with every piece you write — and articles can flip from one to the other, always be an interesting journey for readers and writers — but it’s an excellent starting point.

    Conversely, the worst emotion to have when previewing a product is none at all: total apathy.

    Sounds kind of narcissistic, arbitrary and unrelatable. It's weird to me at times that people place so much trust in their emotional state, as if the stronger the emotion - the more legitimate the perspective. I can understand empathising with that perspective (we're all subject to our emotions, duh) but I can't understand how anyone would think impressing the legitimacy of their own emotions over reason, perspective and logic is best for readers. How does one person playing something a reader has never played or seen and talking about the emotions THEY feel whilst playing help the reader? I mean, it's nice that I know about someone else's emotions but I still know nothing about how the game could potentially make ME or OTHERS feel.

    I find it strange that we're considering (not judging) the moving parts and components of games and art less and less and simply focusing on our initial emotional reaction, not really acknowledging the important role a player actually has in the facilitation of gameplay or story. It's always the game's fault.... Doesn't this kind of undermine the complexity and craft of games? might even hurt the ability to engage in discourse. I mean, i'd just love it if someone could at all empathise or identify with the fact that I know just as much RELEVANT information about gameplay and perspective important to me after reading the article than I did before it. I know what Alex likes, he seems pretty cool, but I really did come here to get a feel for what the mode would be like to actually play and don't feel like that was prioritised over the exploration of emotions and listing of features. Maybe there's no other way to accurately describe gameplay and have it actually be relatable instead of feeling like it was pandering to specific audience with specific values.

    Are there actually any alternatives around that use less subjectively definitive or prejudicial language and perspective? You know, less stuff like "it just doesn't feel like..." without any consideration and more of an acknowledgement of the craft? I generally go into games looking to be told a story or to adhere to what it needs me to do as a player to get it's point across, it sounds cliche and ignorant but it's hard not to really feel (especially with the language used) that the writers are generally letting some kind of expectation we haven't been told get in the way of providing a holistic perspective. Is it just me or is it unhelpful to read a preview that puts such an emphasis on one person's specific feelings when not everyone may have those feelings and the causes of those feelings are so dubious and subjective in a general sense? Feels like I'm having a perspective modelled for me at times rather than being informed.

    I like Alex's writing, but I felt weird reading this one and after going through a few older previews I've had lying around have noticed a noticable difference in writing style and priorities.

    It's so stupid how you say the multiplayer "doesn't feel like Naughty Dog" when the uc4 mp is a combo of the Uc2, uc3, & Tlou Mps. If you think making a multiplayer game is so easy then make 1 ya damn self. Stop looking at games as what YOU would want them to be and start seeing the VISION that naughty dog has for the uc4 mp. I've been up since 4am playing the beta & i've been hooked right from the start of it. We buy call of duty year after year & its the same over & over but when Naughty Dog has the balls to actually try & combine what they did in those 3 games everyone cries about it. Adapt or parish! The uc4 mp does have an identity.....its Naughty Dog's identity.

    I would pay the same price for Uncharted, without the multiplayer. makes no difference to me. I was paying it to get a feeling for the single player game, which was cool.

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