Capture the Flag. Domination. Team… those things. These words have made up a
familiar vocabulary for multiplayer games over the past 15 years or so, and they’ve
been standard in nearly every game that’s allowed one player to shoot at
another. These days, however, “standard” is seldom enough, and this year it
seems like every other big fall release wants to reinvent, deepen or otherwise
put its own unique spin on competitive and co-op play.
Some of those
spins are more interesting than others, and they’re resulting in a fall lineup
that – in spite of being composed largely of sequels – is doing enough big, unusual
things with multiplayer to make even the most steadfast solo gamers take
interest. And now that another annual 24-hour marathon is safely behind us, it
seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the unique stuff that lies
7. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Due out: Nov. 1 (Nov.
Uncharted 3’s multiplayer isn’t all that different from Uncharted 2. The
leaping, climbing and cover-based shooting are all there, along with fun new
additions like stationary minigun emplacements. However, Drake’s latest
adventure has a few things that set it apart from its treasure
hunters-vs-mercenaries predecessor, starting with customization options that
let players tailor Drake, Sully and the rest of the cast to their liking with
unlockable gear and a potentially deep system of boosts and special-ability
“kickbacks.” More interesting, however, are some of the changes Uncharted 3
brings to the gameplay, like a buddy system that makes players tougher when
they work closely with a pre-designated teammate, and a lopsided three-team
true, however, that while all that stuff is new to Uncharted, we’ve seen other
games do similar things. So what really gets
our juices pumping for Uncharted 3’s multiplayer is that it gives its stages a
rudimentary “storyline,” in that some maps have multiple parts. For example,
the Airstrip map we first glimpsed in April begins with a high-speed chase
between a fleet of flatbed trucks and a taxiing cargo plane, as each team tries
to claim the plane for themselves (without getting crushed under the truck wheels)
before it takes off. Victory here then gives the winning team an edge in the
next stage of the map, a sprawling airfield filled with sniping points.
that with a three-player co-op mode that follows a (simplified) story separate
from the single-player adventure, and there’s an excellent chance that
Uncharted 3’s multiplayer features might actually outclass its campaign.
6. Dark Souls
Due out: Oct. 4 (Oct. 7 EU)
For: PS3, 360
Souls’ approach to multiplayer doesn’t appear to be all that different from
2009’s Demon’s Souls, but there’s a good chance that a lot of you (particularly
the ones without PS3s) still haven’t played the grim, balls-tough fantasy
adventure yet, in which case it’ll all be new to you.
Souls is more or less a single-player game, the presence of other players can
be felt in the phantoms that occasionally wander through the world and leave
messages warning of danger ahead. It goes deeper than that, though; with
certain artifacts, it’s possible to temporarily yank other players out of their
own games and into yours, where they’ll be forced to assist you and/or become
targets for attacks you might rather avoid. And if you’re feeling especially
mean, you’ll be able to jump into other players’ games as a glowing red phantom
and just grief them directly, killing them and stealing all their accumulated
“humanity” (key to not becoming a shriveled undead husk) for yourself.
less-than-friendly approach that fits in nicely with Dark Souls’ already thorny,
“you’re gonna die” ethos, and if it’s anything like Demon’s Souls, it’s going
to grind us down, demoralize us and make us love every second.
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