Competitive shooters are scary. You can imagine my delight upon seeing the first trailer (posted below) for the wacky and magic-infused Uncharted 4 multiplayer mode.
It’s slow, but with the expected exhilaration of Nathan Drake’s confounding stunts. When playing this week, I immediately knew what to do. The controls are just like they are in the single-player campaign:
I throw my new, funny, hook thing.
And when I see an enemy, I shoot like a cowboy at high noon.
It’s great! And hey, there’s even a lobby for new, abysmal players like me to play in! I was having a blast. Quickly realizing you need to roll, as the kids say, squad deep, and always have friends by your side was rewarding. My team and I would help each other because in this multiplayer arena, players get “downed,” and teammates have an opportunity to help them get back into the fight before needing to respawn.
The maps are keenly-designed with vertical integration in mind. I climbed many a building, pulled enemies out through windows and even landed a couple of one-punch knockouts after releasing my grappling hook midair.
Sure, I was rarely the best player on my team, but I was having fun. Until, my time in the beginners’ lobby was over. It was gone. Vanished. The game had decided I must be competent enough to play Team Deathmatch with the big boys.
Now, I have no quarrel with this. I understand an inherent problem in letting players stick around in the newbie lobby forever. My issue is how, well, intense, Uncharted 4’s multiplayer mode is.
Menus are cluttered with loadout and customization options. After each completed match, I was upgrading something and earning a couple of different kinds of currency for… something.
This multiplayer stadium was sold to me as a romp, similar to what is found in the single-player campaign. And, if that was the case, then what is all this stuff? Upon this realization, every match would fuel my online shooter anxiety.
“Do they have better stuff than me?”
“Am I using the right guns?”
“Why is that character wearing pink bunny ears?”
“Should I be wearing pink bunny ears?”
General confusion ensued, I was spiraling. How could Nathan Drake betray me?
There are gameplay elements that seem to betray Uncharted to its core. In a multiplayer match, a player can scavenge for treasure, eventually using that currency to pay for some kind of competitive advantage. An extra grenade, a special weapon, maybe even an AI controlled buddy are all options. Integrating treasure is a good idea, but this execution is lacking. When have Uncharted players ever desired to STOP MOVING and visit a menu to make something magically appear?
It goes against everything Uncharted gameplay has taught us, everything we love. Instead of defaulting to what basically ends up functioning as a perk, I think Uncharted could be a little more original.
Why not borrow a page from the MOBA book? Have some AI soldiers for each team run around with the players. They could hold special weapons and if you manage to kill one AND reach where they went down, you’re rewarded with a shiny new rocket launcher!
To me, this sounds more fun, encourages the team-based interactions that the multiplayer is already trying to push, and makes the mode far more accessible.
That’s just one example, but it’s my opinion overall that Uncharted 4 could gain a lot from streamlining the customization options. The gameplay is so accessible, so, why isn’t everything around it?
The newly released Overwatch is thriving, while lacking an excess of loadout options. Rather than rewards and upgrades, players are jumping into battle for fun. Uncharted is fun, it doesn’t need all this other stuff. Should Naughty Dog learn from Blizzard’s hit? Sound off in the comments with how you would improve Uncharted 4’s multiplayer.