Few things in life derive more pleasure than the following: sex, chocolate, matching with other players in the Uncharted 4: A Thief's End multiplayer beta on the PlayStation 4. Despite being a rather cynical promotional ploy, Naughty Dog's server stress test is living up to its namesake, as you'll spend more time staring at spinning circles than taking control of protagonist Nathan Drake.
But the beta does work occasionally – we've got the battle scars and the bad KDR to prove it – so is it any good? The TLDR answer is yes, but we wouldn't be earning our embarrassingly small pay cheque if we stopped there. This is an arcade shooter: the action is frantic, the power-ups are ridiculous, and it all feels like a far cry from the more hardcore affairs on the PS4.
It's refreshing in the same way as The Last of Us, then, because there's nothing else quite like it available on the console. Maps are, as you'd expect, designed around verticality, and in the two stages that we got to try – an outdoor cavern and a colourful market plaza – there are literally dozens of different routes and shortcuts that you can take to get to the chokepoints in the centre.
The controls are incredibly fluid, and they bode well for the single player campaign. Everything feels slick: vaulting over cover will send you into a little slide, rolls give you a great getaway, and the all-new rope mechanic allows you to swing over chasms like a true Jungle Jane. All of these commands are mapped to the controller nicely, so you always feel like you can react to any circumstance.
But the best thing about it all is the animation. As mentioned, the gameplay feels incredibly responsive, and yet all of the characters move in ridiculously realistic ways. Alright, you'd need to be an Olympic athlete to get about like the cast of the Uncharted games, but it's pretty amazing how Naughty Dog has managed to sew its complex animations to such tight controls.
As a complement to Uncharted 4's main single player course, this should prove a pleasant pudding
Speaking of complexity, there's a lot going on here. Collecting gems around the map and contributing to your team's objectives will accrue cash, which is both used to level up and also purchase in-game upgrades. The items available to you will depend upon your loadout, with sidekicks supporting you in battle and Mysticals giving you a supernatural edge.
These items certainly pack a visual punch, with one scattering spirits across the screen while another transforms you into the Human Torch. It's perhaps too early to talk about balance just yet, but it's worth pointing out that each time that you use a Mystical – or any other goodie that's purchased with in-game cash – it becomes more expensive to buy it again, so these items can't be easily spammed.
Mechanics have been brought forward from The Last of Us as well. Enemies now need to be finished off, otherwise they'll go into a "downed" state which will allow their team mates to get them off the ground. You'll need to KO a foe in order to score your team a point in Team Deathmatch, which is the only mode currently available in the beta. One Mystical allows you to quickly revive your teammates within a given radius.
As you play, you'll snatch Relics off the corpses of your antagonists, which can then be used to open chests. These unlock random items, including clothing customisations and taunts. Alternatively, it looks like you'll be able to "buy" these using coins, which we assume will comprise the main microtransactions in the game. To be honest, we can cope with cosmetics, so it's all cool.
Uncharted's known for its presentation, so that's probably where we should close things out, right? The beta looks vibrant, though it's a little fuzzy due to its 900p resolution. Fortunately the frame rate more than makes up for that fact, and it seems to stick pretty darn rigidly to its 60 frames-per-second target, which bodes well for the final, optimised product.
So, it's good, then. Only time will tell as to whether there's any real mileage in the mode, but as a complement to Uncharted 4: A Thief's End's main single player course, this should prove a pleasant enough pudding. Hopefully there's a side-order of co-op still yet to be discussed, because this silky smooth combat is begging for some kind of horde option.
Do you think that Uncharted 4's multiplayer is buried treasure, or is it merely dug up junk? Pick your position in our poll and then polish off your opinion in the comments section below.
What do you think of the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta? (19 votes)
It's brilliant like Nate's buttocks
It could be a Cutter above, but I'm not entirely sure yet
It's bad and will Sully the brand
I Marlowe you won't believe it, but I haven't played it yet
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