Uncharted 2's multiplayer was dissapointing. Honestly, I expected multiplayer on par with the quality of the singleplayer. While some modes stood out, such as the co-op missions, others were merely ok. The maps weren't anything special, the gun selection was boring (why does everyone always have to start every single match with a boring AK-47?), and it felt unpolished overall.
Developer Naughty Dog recently wrapped up the multiplayer beta for the next entry in the series, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. I played the beta avidly, and am pleased to report that the they've gotten it right this time. It is much better game than its predecessor from a multiplayer standpoint. At the same time, there are still some problems that will hopefully be fixed before the final product is released. Here are some of the things I liked about Uncharted 3's multiplayer beta, and also some of the things I didn't like.
I liked the maps. They are much better this time around, with interesting locales and layouts. The standout is definitely the Yemen map, a maze of corridors and houses overlooked by two large towers that make excellent, but obvious sniping spots. Another great map is Chateau, a burning french chateau with several events such as ceilings caving in heightening the action. The map Airfield is the least interesting map to me, but has some great events that take place during the course of a match. A game on Airfield starts with teams spawning on either a cargo plane speeding down a runway or one of several trucks chasing after it. When the plane eventually takes off, players are brought to the map itself. Overall, the maps in this new installment are much better than those in Uncharted 2.
I didn't like melee combat. While there are now many more ways to take down your opponents, it does not seem completely polished yet. Countless times I thought I was in range of someone, hit the melee button, and whiffed. They would subsequently kill me, somehow in range. As one can imagine, this was incredibly frustrating.
I liked the ability to choose loadouts. Instead of having to start with the AK-47, from level 1 players can choose the AK, a longer range weapon, or the sniper. You can also switch loadouts mid-game, at the cost of losing progress towards your kickback (another great feature that I will not go into detail about here). This is probably my favorite new feature, as it frees me to snipe whenever I want to, not just when I can find the specific gun.
I didn't like some of the guns. There were some guns that I loved, such as the Dragon Sniper or the classic Para 9 pistol. I'm not sure how I feel about the new semi-long range burst weapon, the G-mal. I don't like how they nerfed one of my favorite weapons in the series, the machine pistol. Now all it's just a less accurate pistol that fires faster, and I found myself going back to the Para 9 most of the time. If it takes us a good 10 levels to unlock the machine pistol, it should be at least slightly better than the Para 9.
I really liked the Power Plays. Power Plays are small, minute-long challenges that are spontaneously triggered in game that can help even scores in lopsided games, or just keep them interesting. For example, if your team is losing badly, they may get double damage or be able to see the opposing team. Other examples of Power Plays include Marked Man modes where you get extra points for killing a certain player of the other team, or you must protect the Marked Man on your team. Power Plays make for a great way to change up the pace of the game, and help keep things interesting.
Overall, I came away from the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta very impresed, and I only noticed a few small issues that will probably be fixed before release. I'm certainly ready to give the online world of Uncharted a second chance.