Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta Preview Impressions

It’s always a nice bonus when everyone is included in a “private” beta – with most PSN users in firm hold of a PlayStation Plus account after the PSN outage, it’s nearly impossible to miss out on Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta.

Game Rant got a chance to see what the online version of Drake’s adventure was shaping up to be during an E3 hands-on demo – but this time, with thousands of players taking part online, we get to see a more robust idea of what to expect come November.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves delivered an impressive online addition, capturing the third-person platform campaign action and superimposing it over a constant barrage of taunts and gunfire. With the core mechanics in place, it was just a matter of refining details for Uncharted 3 – and Naughty Dog seems to have done the trick quite nicely.

Currently the beta offers two maps to test your skills — Chateau and Airstrip — the fun is found in the wide array of game variants available: Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Hardcore, Three Team, Deathmatch, and Co-op Arena. More modes and maps are to be added by the end of the week, which will give players time to test their mettle and learn any intricate advancements.

If you’re looking for something a little more “tried and true,” Team Deathmatch and Free-For-All will be as common for anyone that has picked up a stick and played an online match. Letting players enjoy more of the simple mechanics of the game (a quick-leap from a high platform to a lower deck while firing off a few rounds), this is where the players go to warm up and get their feet wet. Hardcore is the same principle, only it removes the Boosters and Perks, allowing the core gameplay to shine through.

However, the new game variants work especially well in Uncharted 3 multiplayer. Three-Team Deathmatch can initially come-off as abrasive and cluttered: a lot is going on – and occasionally it can be hard to distinguish friend from foe. Yet after playing a few rounds, the adrenaline-fueled thrill kicks in. Two teams in a firefight make a perfect ambush opportunity for the third, and a great way to sneak into the lead. It’s ultimately satisfying to use guerilla tactics against each other  – and discerning the best time to strike.

Uncharted 3 Beta Three Team

Co-Op Arena is a different set of rules however. Offering three types of variants — Co-Op Hunter and Co-Op Adventure will appear as the Beta advances — Arena is something like Halo: Reach’s Firefight with additional mini-objectives. For example, two players may have to retrieve an artifact during a round and secure it and then bunker down and wait for the counter to click down for the next instance. The Arena play adds an interesting layer to the general ‘Wave” styled game variants, yet the Beta only offers a few objectives, which makes it pretty repetitive (for now).

Surprisingly, there are a lot of perks and boosters available in the Beta. Taking some cues from games like Call of Duty, boosters such as extended ammo, reload faster, and radar stealth make an appearance. There is also a separate Co-Op boosters pack, which will allow players to heal faster and reduce respawn, which is a nice variation on the regular multiplayer. A new addition (which is new to most shooters) is the Kickback system. Allowing players to get a one-time boost during a match by picking up medals or artifacts found around the map (or on fallen enemies) – which adds a new layer of strategy.

Yet, before anyone can play, they have to customize their character – and the Beta is just the tip of the iceberg: clothing, race, emblems, poses and taunts, as well as weapon skins and loadouts, are up for grabs. While the beta only offers limited customization at this time – the depth and amount of options available bodes well for the full game.

Uncharted # Beta Airport

Plus, the levels Chateau and Airstrip are gorgeous and exciting to play on. Giving players ample opportunity to jump, climb, dive, and duck their way to victory, the levels themselves are painstakingly crafted and designed to bring the action from the campaign to the online world. Occasionally, there’s even a short little cutscene showcasing the factions (giving a little insight into how they operate) – grounding the levels in a situation, not just a static sandbox.

Since this is a beta, there are still glitches to work out but the only real concern that we encountered was the Co-op A.I. – which appears to be be stuck in ‘simple’ mode – and acts like a pack of penguins on holiday.

While these are marginal complaints and will no doubt be sorted out before the release, the Uncharted 3 beta is an exciting sneak peek at one of the biggest titles of 2011. It’s a clear and sharp step-up from the multiplayer in Uncharted 2, and brings all kinds of new merriment.

If you’re a fan of the series, make sure to get-in on the action before the end of the beta on July 14th.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will release November 1, 2011, exclusively on the PlayStation 3.

Follow Will on his Facebook and [email protected] Ayreesfoxx.