While I only managed to play the Uncharted 3 beta for a few hours when it was on the PSN a few months back, it left enough of an impression on me to run to a nearby Subway and grab a code for the month-long multiplayer beta running into the game’s release. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was falling in love with a fresh system coupled with new maps that are as dynamic as they are ever-changing. Here are a few reasons why you should be playing this beta:

1)      Slower = Better

     If there’s one thing that’s always kept me from racking up my kill ratio or enjoying the higher level killstreaks in other games, it’s the speed. Perhaps it’s a product of being older, or simply more practice is required, but I have always felt that I am just too slow for multiplayer. If you don’t have a hair trigger response time, chances are Modern Warfare players have kept you from ever getting more than 3 or 4 kills in a row before losing out to a faster knife response.

     Thankfully, U3 is slower—markedly slower. That’s not to say that FFA or Deathmatch games are without the intensity you find in modern multiplayers, it’s that the elements feel a little more grounded by bringing the speed down just a notch. Sprints are still limited which helps prevent players from resorting to cheap kills by jumping in circles around you. Even if your enemy gets the jump on you, you actually feel like you have a chance to turn the tables, and you can.

2)      Power Play Potential

     Something I found to be really beneficial for both teams are the slightly-random “power plays” that give one team a small boost for sixty seconds. Sometimes you’ll be able to see enemy positions, you receive double damage, or an enemy player becomes a V.I.P. kill worth several points. I’ve seen teams almost a dozen kills behind come back to win the match with the help of Power Plays, and that’s the point—it keeps the match from becoming a one-sided massacre. Yes, sometimes the matchmaking just completely misses and puts every max-level player on one team, but in the vast majority games that are roughly even power plays help keep the match a nail-biter for both sides.

3)      Medals of Honor

     One of the most frustrating aspects of modern multiplayers is the reward system based on killstreaks. As much as I wanted to drop a nuke during the MW2 maps, I knew I’d never get 25 kills in a row, and I doubt anyone but the most hardcore players ever got to experience that thrill. So why have such rewards if you know that only 1% percent of the people playing will ever get to use it? It looks like the U3 devs took note of that flaw too and just got rid of it. In its place is a medal system that appeals to all players, whether you’re averaging one, two or eight kills a life.

     Each map has a hefty list of medals to give players during the match. Receive enough medals and you can activate your “kickback”, or a personal boost that can be anything from a new weapon or throwing 3 grenades at once, or unlimited ammo for a short time. Now, people like me who average 1 or 2 kills a life can save up the medals to access the more powerful kickbacks toward the end of the match. And since most medals are rewarded based on kills, the hardcore players will obviously receive more medals and use more kickbacks, but that’s only fair.

4)      On a Plane, On a Train…

     Perhaps my most favorite aspect of their multiplayer system is the inclusion of maps with different stages. Two maps (airstrip and London underground) have a beginning stage that serves as a precursor to the actual map. In the airstrip example, players jump from car-to-car as they try to board the plane before it takes off. This part only lasts for a few minutes before players are moved to an air base where the rest of the map takes place. These small pre-stages are both entertaining and fresh additions to already varied gameplay, provided and additional mobility challenge while already trying to rack up kills.