The Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta is currently underway until June 28th 2009 and we were lucky enough to get invited to join in through our GAP membership as well as being a Qore subscriber. We spent a few hours over the weekend playing the game to bring you our thoughts.
The beta is limited to two competitive maps and two co-op missions. Only two competitive multiplayer modes are available to try in the beta: Deathmatch and Plunder. Deathmatch is the same as team Deathmatch you would find in most other shooters. The first team to reach 50 kills wins the match. Plunder is Naughty Dog’s take on “capture the flag.” Except the flag has been replaces with treasure in a neutral location on the map. The first team to bring it back to their capture chest scores a point – three points to win.
As for the cooperative playlist, Naughty Dog has put in a snippet of one of their co-op experiences. With three players in a co-op match, you play as Drake, Sully, or Chloe as they fight their way through a war-torn city to recover a treasure worth a fortune. Your character is chosen for you, which is a bit disappointing when you end up being Sully, but its better than having three Drakes.
The co-op mode requires a lot of teamwork from completing objectives to defeating enemies. Running off alone is a sure way to get killed. Thankfully, in most cases – except for, say, being blown up – you’re not out of the game. If you’ve been downed, you can be revived by one of the other players before your timer runs out. If everyone dies, you start at the last checkpoint you passed. If everyone dies three times the match is over and you have to start over again.
Weapons are scattered throughout the levels on both co-op and competitive modes, and you can also pickup ammo and weapons from downed enemies. Just like the previous title, there is no life meter – if you are hurt badly, you vision goes blurry and colourless. Taking cover using the circle button can help you recover.
The controls are also the same as the previous title. R1 is to shoot and R2 is to reload your weapon. L1 is used to aim and L2 to throw grenades. Triangle is used for picking up ammo and weapons, as well as for actions. The left analogue stick is used to move your character and the right is for aiming and camera movement. X is for jumping and circle for taking cover and diving.
You are ranked on the total amount of online cash you have earned. This includes both the co-op and competitive modes, so you can rank up either way. In competitive, you earn cash for defeating enemies, and earning medals. In co-op, you earn cash for your point score and by earning medals. For example, killing an enemy after dying (using a grenade or gunfire) will warn you’re the “Afterlife” medal. In our first co-op mission we were able to level up straight to level 4. Naturally, it gets harder to level up as you progress.
You can see your rank both next to your name in the lobby and scoreboard, as well as in the Profile screen. As well as you level, you also have a badge to match your current level. For the lower levels, you have a green badge but this is later upgraded to silver, gold and platinum badges as you progress. Earning a platinum badge will take you some time to get but we did see a few online already.
One of the major frustrations we found with the game was the matchmaking system. It’s supposed to be the easiest way to join a game but it can take quite a while for the server to find something. On occasion we were waiting up to 10 minutes. You can optionally create your own game but you then have to wait for others to join. The competitive mode supports 10 players while the co-op mode supports 3 players maximum. Even co-op matchmaking can take a while.
You can, however, party up with a few friends to help make the process of finding a match easier. You can easily send a game invite to anyone playing the game by pressing Triangle in the lobby. This is especially useful for co-op as your friends are more likely to complete the mission than a random player.
Another frustration we encountered was with the co-op mode. You need three players to play, so if a player leaves mid-game you lose all your points and any medals you might have earned. You only level up and keep your medals if you manage to complete the mission. In our opinion, you should at least get some points if another player leaves the game since you did invent some time – even half of the actual point you earned would do. Though, this could lead to some gamers abusing the system.
There are a few bugs present in the game and a patch should be available soon, but it is a beta after all. The graphics are amazing and the environments are highly detailed. The character models are impressive and reminiscent of Drake’s Fortune. All the same weapons are available too, and a few new ones have been added too. So far we’ve seen over 1,000 players online at any one time, so there are plenty of players around.
We are really amazed with how good the multiplayer modes are. The Plunder mode isn’t as popular as Deathmatch but at lease there is a variety. For a beta, we are surprised with how many people are playing the game religiously to rank up. It’s likely the ranks will get reset before the game hits the shelves. It’s only been a week since the beta was released and people are already on gold and platinum badges – the highest level we’ve seen so far is 40. We can’t wait till November, when the game finally hits the stores.