First thoughts on Uncharted 4 (opens in new tab) multiplayer? It plays much like you’d expect from the series: all the cast running around taking pot shots at each other between quips. It’s a decent online shooter with all the character of the main game transferred smoothly into the deathmatch mode available to play at the Paris Games Show. Much like before it might not be a huge selling point for the game on its own, but it’s a nice addition to the package.
That said there are some pretty hefty changes in the form of the new Mystic and Sidekick abilities, and the inclusion of the main game’s rope swinging mechanic. These not only add new tactics but also significantly lift the game out of the realms of ‘reality’ as you summon ghost creating statues or transform into a flaming, teleporting Djinn.
There are five Mystics in total, although only three have been shown off so far. Uncharted 1’s El Dorado statue can be called in to create enemy attacking ghosts, Uncharted 2’s Sintamani Stone acts like a reviving buff, and the Djinn ability lets you teleport around the map in wreaths of flame. They act much like plenty of familiar online abilities, just via a slightly odd disbelief-suspending logic - El Dorado is basically a grenade you throw to summon the nine-foot gold statue from the ground.
The Sidekicks function in a similar way - familiar multiplayer tools packaged up in a different way. They’re NPCs you can drop in for support: the Sniper is basically a turret, standing where dropped and shooting at the enemy. The Brute stomps forward like a mini-gun wielding tank. A medic-like support revives fallen players, and a Hunter seeks out enemies to immobilise in a grapple.
Don’t worry too much about how any of it works and you’ll be fine. The effects are what matters. A well placed sniper or El Dorado, for example, can shut down sections of the map. While a Brute or Medic can make foolhardy attacks far more survivable.
These abilities are unlocked using in-game currency earned as you play. No microtransactions, just cash earned from kills and treasures unearthed mid-game. It adds an extra tempo to the action with powerful abilities costing more and so usually being deployed later. The Brute is super expensive and often only comes into play towards the end of a round. According to Naughty Dog however it can completely flip a match on its head if used well.
One mechanic that’s jumped over from the single player is Nate’s rope. In the multiplayer it can be deployed with a tap of L1 over crevices or drops for a very loose swinging system. The prompts don’t feel overly clear right now, leaving you relying more on trust that it’ll work as you hurl yourself forwards. Have a little faith however and it’s quite a nice feeling to swing into the air. Especially if you can land a powerful special melee attack as you land. (The fisticuffs actually feel quite crunchy and powerful here, leading to bullet-free back and forths as you trade rifle butts with the opposition.) There’s also a hint to how the rope mechanic works in the main game with rope-bound parts of the environment acting as anchor points for climbing.
Mechanically it’s an enjoyable bit of fluff on the main game. It wouldn't stand alone but it's definitely an honourable plus on the back of the box. Part of the fun comes from the legacy cast wisecracking through the action. Lead designer Robert Cogburn admits that this is “most likely” Naughty Dog’s last Uncharted game and for that reason the whole gang’s here. Everyone from Lazarević to Katherine Marlowe, all with new dialogue specially written for the game. They’re constantly calling out and reacting in character adding a layer of life to it all.
Essential? Not really. Loads of fun? Absolutely. The only thing I’m not sure about is the multiplayer-only move to 900p to keep the five on five action at 60fps. It adds a very slight pixelated fuzziness to the action that’s not a deal breaker but noticeable. Still, it’s on par with the previous game’s online offering in terms of providing a satisfying online shooter occupying that world, so I’m certainly not complaining.